“For this is our God for ever and ever; He will be our guide even to the end.”Psalm 48:14
Have you ever watched the movie “A Series of Unfortunate Events”? If you have not, don’t bother. If you have and love it, please don’t be offended.
I am terrible at remembering movies, but I distinctly remember this one. I felt stressed out during the entire viewing, waiting for the ever-elusive resolution. The children in this movie get shuffled from one unfortunate event to another. Every time you think they might get a reprieve, it is snatched away by another terrible event which leads to another and another and another… You get the picture.
Maybe because of the pandemic or other mitigating circumstances in your own life, you can resonate with the sentiment that sometimes life resembles that movie. Where one thing happens after another and just as you think you are catching up or finding stability something else “goes wrong”. Life feels like it is unraveling, and you just can’t seem to grab the rope to make it stop.
I had grand plans for the overseas ministry I was going to be doing semi-long term when I went to the Philippines 8 years ago. Before my very eyes all my plans unraveled, and I was left scrambling after the loose end of the rope. I met my now husband and together we went through training and made grand plans to be a part of supporting church planters in Papua New Guinea through flight and education. We lived a transient life as we moved every 9 months and spent 2-3 months a year traveling for support raising.
And then it happened.
We finally arrived in Papua New Guinea with the intention of setting up a home and staying long term. After 14 months (hardly meeting our long term expectations), before our very eyes, the tightly held rope of our plans and dreams began to unravel and we scrambled after it trying desperately to hold on and reel it back in.
The events of that time overseas landed us in another new place trying to make sense of what had happened, having only the current step in focus with more unknowns than knowns. Eventually our next step was placed before us as we were asked to go back to the aviation training center for Brian to learn to pilot helicopters. Slowly we felt like we began getting a hold of the rope, finding some stability. We still didn’t know what would happen in the steps to come, but we felt like at least we had a current plan.
*In case you missed it, we are living in a pandemic with a virus that continues to puzzle the medical world.*
When we arrived on center, we ended up in quarantine… twice. So, out of our first two months, one of those was spent in quarantine because of Covid exposure. After Christmas we found ourselves with Covid. So, more quarantining. We thought we were past it, that we could move forward with our plan and all would be well. A week and a half after being back at the hangar Brian came home with weird symptoms that were such that he could not do the training we came here to do. We figured a few days would go by and he would be better. But then days turned into weeks. That frayed end of the rope we were holding on to began slipping through our fingers yet again. With him not being able to do training and there being little to no information on how to recover from post covid symptoms, we have found ourselves hoping he recovers spontaneously while not knowing what to do about it all. Here we find ourselves with the rope once again slipping rapidly from our grasp as we wonder “What are we doing”? “Will he get better”? “Can we continue”? “How do we move forward when we have no way of knowing how long these mysterious Post Covid Symptoms will last?” So many unknowns and very few answers.
Looking at all of these things they feel like the unraveling of life, ministry and long held dreams… A series of unfortunate events.
But in these liminal spaces, in the losses and changes and all the things that are so far out of our control, I am reminded that I was never in control to begin with. No amount of planning, worrying, and strategizing will give me any more control. (Though in the middle of an intense worry session, I can almost believe it is somehow productive). These spaces have served as an unraveling, but if it is an unraveling it is one that has unraveled my illusion of control and revealed my own broken cisterns. In Isaiah, Israel is chastised by God for going to broken cisterns, when God Himself was their true cistern, full of life-giving water. I am guilty of the same. I go through life making plans and taking steps and underneath it all, as long as things are going according to plan, I have a deeply held false sense of control. It is only when all the plans unravel, when everything seems to be stripped from my grasp that my own broken cisterns are unveiled. The things I instinctively hold to for a sense of balance and control.
God uses the unraveling in my life as an unveiling of what is in my own heart and as insight into the depth of my misplaced trust. He lovingly draws me back to Himself, reminding me that though serving Him is important, He wants my heart’s devotion and full surrender even more. These spaces in life offer an opportunity to check my own heart. To evaluate if I am truly trusting in the character and loving goodness and sovereignty of the God I claim to love. It is in the unraveling that I find the unveiling of what my heart needs most. Him. He is the One for whom I was created, and He is the One who brings purpose into even the unknown and confusing spaces in life.
“I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in His word, I put my hope.” Psalm 130:5
“Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. The Lord is trustworthy in all He promises and faithful in all He does. ” Psalm 145:13