By Kristine K. Lowder
I have a confession. Iíve sported a number of labels in my time, everything from "Honey" and "Mommy" to the transitional "Mom" and "Hey you." But one label Iíve never been plastered with is "spontaneous." Why? Because Iím not the "spontaneous type." Not that I dislike surprises. I just like to know about them ahead of time. Way ahead of time. My idea of "spontaneity" is planning Christmas activities in October instead of July. You see, I like plans. Calendars. Schedules. Dates. Reservations. Preferably 10 years in advance.
As my four sons can attest (all too well?), Iím not good with chaos. I like order. Structure. Punctuality. I want to know where Iíve been, where I am, and where Iím going. In triplicate. Submitted yesterday.
Now, donít get me wrong. Organization, structure, and planning ahead are good and necessary. I donít think God has anything against calendars or set routines, but when theyíre so encased in concrete that I wonít let Him redirect my steps, how "good" are they?
For example, I used to take great pride in my abilities to manage a busy household of five testosterone-impaired child prodigies. E.g., guys. Hey, I can do it all, right? Remember, Iím organized. Even if I wasnít, youíd be amazed at how a little ingenuity and treachery can even the odds when Iím outnumbered five to one. But Iíve never been fond of pandemonium. Iím easily rankled by interruptions, distractions, and disruptions. Especially when Iím trying to complete a task, concentrate, or finish a sentence. Which isnít something to crow about in a testosterone-charged environment.
So God saw this "Type A personality" and pronounced her "good." Right?
"Hey Michael, Gabriel" He may have said, "Come here and get a load of this."
Because the flip side of organization and efficiency can be a rigid inflexibility with all the wiggle room of a strait jacket, the teachability of a gnat. Maybe thatís why He gave me four rascally, rambunctious boys. Threw in two cross-country moves in six months. A 70-pound yellow Labrador retriever who thinks sheís a rabbit, a pet gopher snake who thinks sheís a Labrador retriever, and Little League x 4. Add church activities, homeschooling, and an uncertain future. Stir. Serve up a chief residence somewhere between the states of Neurosis and Insanity. Sprinkle in schedule shifts, a derailed plan or two, and a few "unexpected out-of-the-blues" and I can be reduced to a quivering heap of jellied frustration in record time.
What Iím learning, however, is that God is more interested in who I am than in whatís on my calendar. Iíve been thinking about plans from Psalm 119. Verse 105 says:
"Thy word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path."
If I penned that Psalm, Iíd swap "foot lamp" for "beacon." You know, a lighthouse the size of Alaska illuminating the next continent, 50 years, and beyond. Thatís what Iíd say. But thatís not what God says. Instead, He says His Word is a lamp unto my feet. He doesnít illuminate a million miles down the road or light up the next zip code. He gives just enough light for my next step. And asks me to trust Him for the rest of the trip.
Thatís a tall order. Especially when the baseball coach calls an extra practice on my one and only night off from Momís Taxi Service Ė and he doesnít show. When itís past my bedtime and my preschooler begs for ANOTHER story. When my 11 year-old manages to lose cleats, glove, and self after every baseball game. When my teenager neglects to inform me about his planned rendezvous at the YMCA with a friend. The Y is a 30 minute drive in the opposite direction from the baseball practice for which we are leaving in two minutes. Then thereís the laundry that proliferates by spontaneous generation. Overnight. The "chick flick" that turns up AWOL. The one I looked forward to watching with my husband after the kids conks out.
While weíre on the subject, I have another confession. Sometimes Godís school of flexibility is enough to drive me to drink. (I donít. Iíll settle for intravenous injections of Hersheyís chocolate.) Why? Because "Type As" like our plans. Calendars. Schedules. Dates. Reservations. But I wonder. How can I catch a divinely designed U-turn, detour, or off-ramp when Iím buried in my DayTimer? Ever notice that sometimes "routine" is another word for a rut?
It occurs to me that the closer I cling to the warm familiarity of my worn routine, the less likely I am to rely on my foot lamp. So Iím learning to plan in pencil. To keep an eraser handy for when He redirects my route. I canít see 10 years down the road. But I donít have to. Because verse 89 of Psalm 119 proclaims:
"Forever, O Lord, Thy word is settled in heaven."
His word is settled. Unshakable. Stands firm. So how long can I count on His Lamp to shine? Forever. Just like the One who has His own plans, who placed a reservation for eternity in my name and marked it "paid in full." Thatís one reservation that wonít change. I can plan on it, one step at a time.
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I had a fun time reading this--very amusing. It's well-written, smooth, good flow, and I appreciated certain descriptive phrases, such as "rigid inflexibility with all the wiggle room of a strait jacket, the teachability of a gnat." You made your point quite imaginatively, which made this article so fun to read.