The Pause Before the Plunge

The roller coaster slows as it chugs its way up the steep incline.  Reaching the zenith, there’s a slight pause, a moment of inertia until gravity takes over and the coaster accelerates down the hill in a rush of adrenaline and squeals.

If this scene does not accurately describe your own experience riding roller coasters, that’s okay.  It doesn’t describe mine, either, because I don’t ride them.  But it’s how I imagine a roller coaster ride would be.

I bring up this roller coaster scene not because I have a hankering to go stand in the hot sun on concrete at Six Flags and watch other people subject themselves to nausea and rapid heartbeats, but rather because it is an apt analogy of my life.  If my life was a roller coaster, my position would be right on top of the hill, hidden inside the pause before the plunge.  Only this roller coaster has several hills it can descend, and only God knows which way it will fall.

Having the future open up into several different choices induces a different kind of stress than having one that feels hopeless and unchangeable. I am finding it difficult to just rest in the Lord and know that He has plans that will be revealed in HIS timing, not mine.

At this moment I feel a bit like the seaweed scattered on this shore — tossed and turned whichever way the waves pull me. I shot this photo on a vacation in Naples last year, and looking at it makes me feel nostalgic for the life we had back in Florida.

There is a chance the Lord will give us that life back again.  There’s a chance He will not.  And there’s a chance that even if He opens the door, we will choose to walk through another.  Remember the roller coaster?  One of the tracks leads my husband to a possible position somewhere down in South Florida.

Warm sugar sand. Breeze in my hair.  Bible on the beach.  Palm trees. Laid back lifestyle. Flip flops year-long. Photo ops galore.  Sounds delightful!  However, Florida also has an abundance of creepy crawlies that prove that at least in entomology, not everything is bigger in Texas.  Hurricanes, tourist traffic, lizards running amok, alligators in the backyard, and no decent Tex-Mex all make me reluctant to make a permanent move back to the Sunshine State.

The prospect of starting over is daunting.  We’d have to find a bunch of new…everything!  Church, CC group, friends, vet, doctor, dentist, hair stylist (and we know how hard it is to find someone who can deal with all this gray hair!)…and we’d have to learn the streets, find the closest SuperTarget, and basically rely on the GPS forever since my tired brain doesn’t remember directions well anymore. Cadi would need a new skating rink and we’d have to find a new skating coach.  Or maybe she’d take up surfing instead.  Warm water, sparkling sunlight, cheering fans…oh, and sharks.  Never mind.

It’s not as if we haven’t moved cross country before.  We’ve actually made FIVE cross-country moves.  I have the packing and unpacking down to a science. But this time I don’t feel the same wanderlust in my heart that I felt prior to our other moves.  I love the friends we’ve made here, the church — and although it does get unbearably HOT here in the summer time, we are somewhat settled.  It could be that I’m just getting old and set in my ways.  It could be that the Holy Spirit is whispering, “Stay.”

The alternative is that the Holy Spirit is nudging us to “Go.”  It wouldn’t be the first time that I failed to see the direction the Lord wanted me to go in because I was so wrapped up in telling Him why He couldn’t possibly want me to go that way. I’m a woman of many words and can turn a pretty phrase when it suits me.  But the Lord isn’t swayed by manipulation.  He is sometimes swayed, however, through persistent prayer (see Luke 18).

“One day Jesus told his disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up. “There was a judge in a certain city,” he said, “who neither feared God nor cared about people. A widow of that city came to him repeatedly, saying, ‘Give me justice in this dispute with my enemy.’ The judge ignored her for a while, but finally he said to himself, ‘I don’t fear God or care about people, but this woman is driving me crazy. I’m going to see that she gets justice, because she is wearing me out with her constant requests!’”

Then the Lord said, “Learn a lesson from this unjust judge. Even he rendered a just decision in the end. So don’t you think God will surely give justice to his chosen people who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will grant justice to them quickly! But when the Son of Man[a] returns, how many will he find on the earth who have faith?”

I don’t want to drive God crazy with my constant requests for direction, but I’m certainly praying a lot!  For doors to open that go places He wants our feet to go, and for doors we should not enter to remain shut.

I do have faith that He who made the universe holds the answer.  He knows whether we should enter Door Numbers 1, 2, or 3.  It isn’t easy sitting back and waiting for his direction to be clear.  But when I think about whining, I remember God made the Israelites wait 40 years before He took them to their destination!

So today as I inhabit the pause before the plunge, I choose to rest in the knowledge that I don’t have to know all the answers right now.  I have all that I need, a constant source of Living Water that I can draw on to sustain my faith when it wavers.

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