“Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
whose confidence is in him.”
Growing up, I was always the kind of person who knew that I was going to have a family. I knew I was going to marry a beautiful girl, we’d be hopelessly in love, we’d have lots of kids and just have a really great life. I had ideas about what I would do to support that family – mostly ideas about making lots of money writing fantasy novels.
It feels a little risky admitting that the romantic ideal of my youth does match the reality of my life. If my wife is reading this, well honey, I promise this isn’t me saying you don’t measure up – you’re a blessing to my life in ways I never imagined as a young man. It’s just that what I imagined and what I got are two different things. Life’s imperfections have disrupted my vision of a perfect life. Go figure.
In devotion this morning, my coworkers and I were talking about this passage from Jeremiah and when we struggle to trust. I don’t really have trouble trusting God when it comes to my finances, or my health, or the direction the world is heading. I don’t even have trouble trusting God with things like my future, or when bad things happen to people I love.
But the one place I know I struggle with trust is believing that what I have is better for me than anything I could have imagine for myself. It’s like I want to grab God’s arm and say, “Would you just listen to me for once? I have these ideas, and they’re good ones!” I concoct these really awesome fantasies of how a day, week, or year is going to go, and then when things go a different way, I’m like, “What the heck, God?”
The thing is, I’m putting an awful lot of confidence in my own plans, thinking they’d make me happy and fulfilled, or at the very least totally content. I’d be perfectly happy to recast that verse to say, “Blessed is the one who trusts in himself, whose confidence is in his own plans.” That works, right?
But I’m thankful that things don’t usually go according to my plans. You know what my idealistic visions for my life didn’t include? Being driven to prayer with my wife because we don’t know how to help our hurting child. Holding my wife as she clings to me when her emotional energy is completely spent. Waking up to find she’s still there despite the awful things I said to her the day before, and knowing what it means to be forgiven and still loved when I have royally screwed up. Taking that first breath after hearing my wife on the phone saying, “I hit a deer on the freeway. I’m okay, our son is okay. The car is not okay, but we aren’t hurt.” Driving across state lines in a rental van, owning neither a car nor a house, all our worldly possessions in a truck… somewhere… and realizing that everything of real value to me is right there in that van. Sharing the difficult lessons I’ve learned with a young man begging for advice as to how to love his new wife.
See, I never imagined all those things would be part of my perfect life. I wouldn’t have planned for them. And they are so much better.
This is what it means to be blessed, to see how God uses the imperfections of life to teach us his grace, so that we stop putting our confidence in ourselves, and start trusting in him. I won’t claim I’ve got this down – like I said, this is where I struggle with trust. But it’s hard to look back on the life I have been given and not say, “Okay, God… I guess maybe your idea was better.”
“Not all who wander are lost.” – Tolkien. If I died today, those are the words I’d want written on my grave. Whether it’s wandering the woods and mountains where I grew up, wandering the world God has made to bring his Gospel to someone new, or wandering a little from God’s narrow path because I have a stubborn heart, one thi ng I know for sure – I’m never lost, because I belong to Jesus. Every path I walk leads me back to him, and he’s going to lead me home. Currently I live in the Green Bay area and serve as a Staff Minister at St. Mark Lutheran Church. I’ve been blessed with a beautiful wife and two awesome boys. We’re a family that loves coffee, stories, really complex board games, and Jesus… not necessarily in that order. – Brandon