Friday, May 13, 2011
Over at Faith Barista, Bonnie Gray is asking the question, “Is there something new that God is preparing you for?”
My first thought was, “At my age, I hope not.”
Actually, we’re always being prepared for something new.
Both of our children are grown and out of the nest, gainfully employed. Our oldest is married and the father of our one-year-old grandson (Cameron! Yes!). Our youngest graduated from college last year and is working in Kansas City. We’ve discovered that there’s something to be said for the empty nest.
Our expectations were that we would now have the freedom to do things we didn’t have before – perhaps some travel, short trips to places like Chicago, museums, and so forth. Things looked like they were going to be settling down. And some of what we expected is happening. But a lot is not.
Simple things upended the routine. That’s OK, of course, routines can be bad. But they all happened at the same time.
The local YMCA changed its Sunday hours, opening an hour earlier and closing two hours earlier. If you don’t go to church, it’s not a problem. If you do go to church, you have to rearrange your Sunday to accommodate the hours. A small thing, but done in the usual “clong people over the head with it” style that most organizations seem to employ when they’re going to make change that will likely upset and offend some people (“We’re the experts! Trust us!”).
Then our church, with no advance warning, cancelled adult Sunday School classes during the “third hour,” which is when we had ours. If you prefer a traditional worship service, you suddenly had no choices for an adult Sunday School class. We’ve now become part of the “show up for worship service and then leave” brigade. And then things related to work got a little unsettled. And some good friends are moving to Texas.
So we started looking back at the past several months and longer and realized that the familiar routine was unraveling. Some of the big things and some of the small things that anchored our lives were changing or disappearing.
What we don’t know yet is where this is leading. I’ll survive the change in hours at the Y; it’s not one of life’s major catastrophes. I worry about the church, though. It’s not intentional, but it seems like we’re being encouraged out the door.
I’ve been a Christian long enough to know that these are usually the signs of preparation. Preparation for what is the question. Nothing seems very clear. It’s not that things usually seem clear; it’s more that, right now, they seem particuarly muddled.
I wonder about St. Paul. The Bible is generally silent on what he did for the 12 years or so between his conversion and Barnabas showing up with a plan. Given his bias for action, he must have felt sorely tested to sit and wait. And sit and wait. And sit and wait some more. I suspect he studied the scriptures, prayed, and worked at making tents, suspecting that he was being prepared for something but not really knowing what.
So we wait. Pray. Continue our lives. Study. Play with the grandson. Write. Pray some more. Be patient.
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Photograph: Seagulls waiting for fog to lift by Andrew Schmidt via Public Domain Pictures. Used with permission.