Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Arrangement

It was my first day of unemployment. I woke up at six, a smudge of anxiety lurking in the gray shades between asleep and awake. I kept my promise to myself that I’d get up early to spend the morning in prayer—after all I had no blueprints laid out for my immediate future. God had neglected to give me a set.

All I knew was that I felt prompted to step out in faith; that I needed to make some changes, and that meant leaving a position at Trinity Western University that some people would give their eye-teeth for. Oh, there were other reasons, health, long commute, but I won’t bore you with them, because the underlying reason was something deeper.

I long for that dream career—or ministry as I prefer to call it—that I’ve felt led to pursue for the past seven years. But it was scary to make that decision. Real scary. It is a risk isn’t it, to step out in your life having no concrete plans for the immediate future. But God promises that He has plans for us--doesn’t He?

My co-workers and supervisors sent me off in royal style. For the past week I’ve been lunched, hugged, kissed, encouraged, prayed for, blessed, given a psalm to read, had a sparkler on ice-cream, wore a moose head (another story) and yesterday—my last day at work—a big, big cake, and a beautiful bouquet of flowers left on my desk. I reveled in it all.

It was so obviously the Lord working through the wonderul people I’m leaving behind. To add to all of that a brand new grad student—reminding me a lot of one of my sons—came into the office. He was just entering post graduate work in Biblical Studies.

He sat at my desk in biker’s leathers, long blond hair in a pony tail, and as I registered him in his classes he delighted me by asking if he could arrange my floral bouquet in a vase. We chatted and I was charmed by his interests in music, his commitment to come back to the study of theology, the simple quixotic kindness he showed to an older lady just leaving Trinity as he was re-entering.

I sat back in my chair and across my desk watched him trim the ends of the stems and artistically arrange my going-away flowers. He even wrapped up the garbage at the end and disposed of it. We shook hands—giving each other our blessings on our separate new beginnings. For me it was just one more thing to add to an already auspicious day and the love of God flowing through another human being.

This morning I woke up in not-so-cheery-a-mood. When I read my Bible and prayed for a while I didn’t feel any of the encouragement that I’d felt for weeks. Instead I thought what a fool I was. Who was I to think God would lead me into something special?

Then I remembered the psalm a friend gave me yesterday and I turned to it, Psalm 65. To my surprise it was a psalm I’d read almost a year earlier and had written copious notes in the margins of my Bible. It was just after my mother collapsed and I’d given up all my own personal hopes and dreams to care for her in what I thought would be forever.

But here I am a year later, my mother more than fine, and once again I felt compelled to hope for my own dreams—dreams I thought were seeded by the Lord years ago. The encouragement rushed back and I prayed again, really searching for the face of my God.

It was then that He came, not after a perfunctory time of prayer, but one of really seeking. He reminded me of the young grad student yesterday who sat at my desk and arranged my flowers. My God spoke clearly to my heart, It wasn’t just that young student, it was me, He said. I was the one who arranged those bright yellow gerber daisies for you in that vase. The image behind my closed eyelids of the young student in biker’s leathers disappeared and superimposed upon it was the One who died on the cross for me. I saw His long flowing robes, his dark hair and beard, as He sat at my desk and said to me, It’s not just daisies I’m arranging for you, and He smiled.

I broke down, weeping at the sweet intimacy of our awesome God caring for one of His own. Is He going to give me that long sought-after dream career? I don’t know for sure. What I do know is that I have nothing to fear. I’m going to continue to seek that relationship that is better than bread or even breath, and whatever He brings into my life will be personally and perfectly arranged by His hands. It will be bright, and golden, and wonderful.