january steps

We have dreams with shapes, and we have dreams we can’t yet picture. The arrival of this year is stirring our hearts to move forward with some plans we have for change, in the hope of deep longings becoming true. Our hearts feel hardly more than inadequacy and fear, because all is hidden in the shadow of tomorrow and all we know is our smallness. We search for right paths, for the wisest thing, but it is hard when we still feel like children without a clue.

 

The chances of it all fitting the way we’d like to seem too slim, and we are tempted to cast off all courage. Waiting may be the name of this season, too. But still, we search, work, and try, and deep down we know the sureness of what God has said and done – about himself and for us – and that the unraveling of our handcrafted plans for the building of new ones is part of our lifelong journey of learning to take our hopes to his cradling, capable hands.

 

And it is a deep, cleansing breath when we feel the scribbled, frantic piles of our plans born away by the bearer of our burdens. As a good poet reminded me in the lines that follow, making my life story beautiful and right was never my work from the start.

 

Most blessings sprout not from the plans

We make, but from the soil of their sad ruin.

Watch their slow, unstoppable unraveling,

 

Their disassembly, the final shudder, and

Their collapse, and the dustcloud that follows.

Pay attention then to the way your heart

Breathes a sigh of relief when the work

 

That was never yours anyway is lifted

From your tired hands. Pay attention,

When you clean up the mess, to the treasure

That the wreck unearthed, and give thanks

 

For your folly and God’s favor.

  {Andrew Peterson, from “Paying Attention”}

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