Sometimes life doesn't go as expected.

Like l i t e r a l l y, just now.

Sitting at the bar in our kitchen beginning to write, I had just said my goodbyes as the boys headed out the door.  Thomas reached for his book bag, the one mindlessly slung on our small antique church pew.  As he does so, a large metal, ornamental wall hanging "falls" down (knocked down?  I don't know, I looked up when I heard the noise), simultaneously hitting him in the head and knocking the two pictures to its left slap cock-eyed.  Come to think of it, Thomas was cock-eyed, too.

Thomas and the pictures are fine, but the wall didn't fare so well.

Such is life.  Unexpected.  Not always what you signed up for. Sometimes better, other times, not so much.

I've begun one of those seasons, an abrupt turn from where (I thought) I was headed.  Excitement, uncertainty, curiosity, eagerness, wonder–a perculiar, precarious balance of emotion, keeping my knees bowed low and my spirit tethered to the Divine.  

Age brings with it a glimpse of wisdom not fully understood by those who haven't journeyed enough days:  

Where is the life in life if not threaded with surprise and challenge, or devoid of forks and bends in the road?  

How boring a road trip if it's just one, long, mindless interstate, a fast-track to a known destination, without the shades and color of Small Town, Anywhere?  

There's comfort in predictability. Sometimes that's what I want. But I wonder if it's ever what I need…truly need.

I'm a believer and follower of Jesus who's prone to doubt. Sometimes debilitating, leave-the-faith, is God real? doubt.  

The incredible, redemptive beauty of my doubt is it is often the very thing that drives me back to God!  

I take issue when people blindly, carelessly declare "God is in control."  I hate that phrase, overly simplistic and exasperating. It suggests too much that can't be true; among them that our choices are puppetiered, mechanical, lacking thought and decision and natural consequence.  

I do believe God is sovereign, though, that nothing escapes his notice; that ultimately, the planet and all things created are under his authority and that his dominion lies beyond the confines of time–He knew the end from the beginning and the beginning from the end.  

God is good, only good, and I fully believe out of this goodness, he has shaped my thinking to trust whatever circumstances occur in my life – the good and the difficult – are intended for my good, his glory, and in some way, the advance of the gospel.

That is why and only why when The Life, Unexpected happens (the hard unexpected), I'm convinced ~

… it's important to discover what I can learn about others through the circumstances.

… it's important to consider what God is teaching me, how he's refining me

… that my testimony is being told through my response to the situation, and how might others be encouraged through my response?

For those reasons and more, I'm able to perservere, look to the future with optimism, embrace life however it's packaged.  

Where is life's magic without the occasional cliffhanger or tumultuous adventure?

I'm willing to pay the price for both.  Sometimes eagerly, sometimes reluctantly, but always, eventually worth it.

When the hardest of tragedies occur – illness, death, financial ruin, infidelity, addiction – during those darkest of days, I know it's hard to keep faith., I am not minimizing the hardship.  But there is the other side to that stinkin' mountain, and when you get to it, I pray you remember these words of encouragement.  


Note:  originally there was a giveaway attached to this post; I removed that portion of the content once it was awarded to simplify this message.

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