It’s like I’ve come to a fork in the road. There’s no going straight ahead, no going on just like always. Life is changing, whether I like it or not, and demands that I get my bearings!
Rachel turned 18 this week and took off on a camping trip to celebrate. How empty the house seemed. How full of minutes to spend doing something, anything! It’s not that there aren’t projects to do. I spent hours fabricating a custom Kindle cover . And there are books to read, and gardens to water and meals to fix but I’m not yet accustomed to the freedom to do anything whenever without interruption. I’ve got to get re-oriented here. Make some decisions. Formulate a plan of action. Set some goals. Figure out my purpose in life!
But it’s more than that, this fork in the road has everything to do with attitude. Will I embrace the next stage of life with joy and with gratitude or with mully-grubbing reluctance, dragging my feet as if it would help time go backwards-- back to the ‘good old days’ when we were young, and busy, and so surrounded by family that there was little question of our purpose in life!
Yes, there are perceived losses. My eyes strain easily. My body creaks more than it did at twenty. My ‘children’ are nowhere to be seen—they’ve morphed into independent adults. My days are uncharted. Yes, I feel a little lost some days, especially when I scan the horizon in an effort to imagine what’s up ahead. But I have a choice how I proceed. Whining or trusting. One way leads to life, of the eternal sort. The other just to crotchety old age.
I sat one morning reflecting on these things and I thought of Jim’s mom, now experiencing Glory. She was very skilled and talented with her hands. She sewed Jim’s wedding suit, complete with pin-tucked shirt. She created endlessly—knitting, crocheting, making memory albums, crafting with whatever resources were at hand. Their house was full of the raw materials of her arts—books, machines, yarn and fabric…And then she began developing macular degeneration. And she was diagnosed with a terminal illness that drained her energy and often caused her pain. One by one, all the things she loved best to do were taken from her. But as her eyesight dimmed and so many of her possessions became useless to her, her spirit grew strong. She consciously and conspicuously trusted her Creator with her incapacities and with her days. She trusted that God’s purposes for her were good.
She got an audio version of the Bible. She phoned and asked about the kids so she would know how to pray…and she found she had extra time to pray. She aged gracefully, gratefully, self-effacingly. She took the fork that leads to eternal life, this way that shines brighter as the physical grows feebler. I thought of her, a witness gone before and knew the fork in the road I want to be on.
It will necessitate embracing a new normal, stepping confidently into change without a constant looking back at perceived loss. (Is anything really loss in view of God’s eternal purposes? Phil.3:8) It is a walk by faith, willing to believe that God’s purposes override my self serving ones. He crafts all the days of my life to shape me into a reflection of Himself. This is His purpose for me. His glory is the end in view, not my sense of temporal comfort or significance.
And what a relief to know that Jesus will shepherd me through the changes. The Lord is my shepherd still. The antiquated words of that old hymn ring in my mind: “He leadeth me, O blessed thought, O words with heav’nly comfort fraught…”. [Do click here for a stirring acapella version of this good hymn] He leads me. I am not standing here at this junction on my own. I don’t have to chart my course, or figure out my purpose; He’s got it laid out. I need only to hang close to Him and He will guide me in the execution of this fork in the road, for His glory. This is such a relief.
After all, though my life may seem to be undergoing change at an alarming rate, His purpose hasn’t changed from the beginning of time. It still stands—to bring all things together in Christ,and to conform each of us to Jesus’ image! And His mercy and His grace have not grown thin. Nor has the modus operandi for me changed. It’s still by faith I must proceed. Still walking with Him into a future I cannot see. Hasn’t this always been the case?
He leadeth me, O blessèd thought!
O words with heav’nly comfort fraught
Whate’er I do, where’er I be
Still ’tis God’s hand that leadeth me. --Joseph H. Gilmore, 1862.
In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. Eph.1:11,12
Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. Col.2:6,7
Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. Heb.12:12,13
All the way my Saviour leads me, what have I to ask beside?
Can I doubt His tender mercy who through life has been my Guide?
–Fanny Crosby, the blind hymn writer
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith…Heb.12:1,2