“If I have a hope, it’s that God sat over the dark nothing and wrote you and me, specifically, into the story, and put us in with the sunset and the rainstorm as though to say, Enjoy your place in my story. The beauty of it means you matter, and you can create within it even as I have created you.” –Donald Miller A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
Imagine me having lunch with a well-known photographer. In my brief observation of this photographer, three things about him have become obvious to me–his commitment to his family, his commitment to doing his work with excellence, and his commitment to living a life worthy of the high calling we have in Christ.
Now, imagine my dismay as he asks me what larger vision I have for my life- aside from just photography-and I proceed to fumble around for words to answer that question–and failing. Miserably. I have attached one of the most awkward photos of myself I could find (taken by my sister) to try to help you visualize what this might have felt like…
My standard procedure after an important meeting is to analyze everything I said to rate just how much of a fool I made of myself. It really bothered me that I couldn’t answer that question– but what was it about that question that turned me into an incoherent, rambling idiot? I couldn’t answer that question because I don’t know the answer to that question.
As I searched my heart, the one word kept coming up as to why I don’t know (and apparently haven’t even thought about how to answer that question)– survival. I feel like I have simply been trying to survive for years now. New York City is a tough place to live to begin with, but add an insurmountable student loan debt to that picture and that equals me just trying to get through the month. Now multiply that by uprooting what was a growing business and moving to Nashville, for no other reason that believing that God told me to, and that equals me just surviving the day. Seeking a broader vision for my life just seems overwhelming and impractical- like a luxury I don’t have.
I also found that the word survival applies to more than day-to-day needs– it seems my lack of a greater vision for my life is also a matter of survival of the heart. Apparently, packing up and moving from Alabama to New York City, or moving from New York City to Nashville is much easier than allowing myself to hope or dream. I have become content to have a general kind of faith, serving in the ways I believe I am called, and picking up puzzle pieces along the way, praying they will fit together to equal God’s will for my life.
This person’s question, along with a chance re-visitation of the Donald Miller quote above prompted me to think about the balance between purpose and God’s providence, and exposed areas where I lack faith or believe lies. It also challenged me to look beyond my rigid fear of trying to write my own story, apart from God, and realize that we do have certain freedoms within His story. Do we all take life one step at a time? Yes. Is there grace for those of us who are weighed down by daily cares? Yes. But ultimately “survival” is not an excuse to fail to seek His will with all our hearts.