1) Several months after the completion of a divorce, one former partner wants to get back with the other promising change. The other partner feels relief and, simultaneously, turmoil during this transition that seemingly won’t end. The questions rain down: Do I go back? Will anyone else ever love me? If I don’t go back, will God punish me by making me single for the rest of my life?
2) After 20+ years of military service, the breadwinner of the family just received news that he had been chosen for “involuntary retirement”. He is roughly two years from being vested in full retirement. So now he is not only out of a job, but will retire on less than the family had planned on. The questions keep coming: Do we appeal and maybe lose even more? Do we accept this, but then how can we make it financially? We thought God wanted us here, but it seems impossible now.
3) A young couple just got engaged and is stumbling into the reality of what marriage can mean. The excitement of choosing to be together is partially overshadowed by the reality that getting married can nullify their current healthcare options. They are trying to decide whether to have a church marriage and skip the legal marriage for the sake of much needed health insurance. The questions persist: What would others think if we aren’t legally married? Is this ok for people to do while in ministry? Does a “legal marriage” matter to God?
4) A fabulous, experienced youth worker was excited about an interview for a job at a church after having served well for years without pay. At the end of the process, she did not get the position and wonders what all those years of serving and training were for. I asked how she was doing. She responded simply, “wrecked.” The questions haunt: Will I ever be chosen? I want to serve God; does He want me?
Being a Christian can be disorienting. It can mess with our proprioception. That is the sense that tells you up from down. It ensures that you are oriented correctly. It is the sense that tells you to swim for the surface because the air is up there above the waves. But, if you’ve ever been hit hard by a wave, you know how this sense can be thrown off kilter. You can kick for the surface, yet find your face in the sand. Have you felt that feeling before?
In each situation above, what they expected was not what they got. Trust was broken. Doing the “right thing” did not return the “right” results. Each asked, “Where is God…” much like the psalmist in Psalm 13 and 88 and…
It seems like everyone I know is experiencing a shaken proprioception. They cannot find a way to orient themselves despite their trust in God, despite their desire to live according to His will, despite a deep understanding that following Jesus does not guarantee health and wealth.
Once, I was hit by a wave while surfing that caused me to lose my proprioception. I thought I was swimming towards the air, but discovered the seafloor. After the panic, in a moment of clarity I had to relax and reorient. James Loder writes about faith as the “in-between”, the moments of transition that can be about transformation. In between panic and reorientation is the moment of faith. It is not a moment that tests your mettle. It is the moment of growth. It is the moment in which God can reorient us if we let Him.