You are strong.
God is strong.
But not so that you take on every burden
though you have
when you could
is the sweet fruit
of that underestimated
born of choosing
what is better.Kathleen Elizabeth
This is the micro-muse for last week’s post, “Is It Okay to Opt Out?” Adorable, right? But not as adorable as eating my own words a few days later.
As soon as I said yes to a yet another new opportunity, my poem came back to me. So, what happens when, for better or worse, we’ve opted in without thinking twice?
My whole family knows the pattern: excitedly, I commit to a creative pursuit, a Bible Study opportunity, a chance to help out someone. Then, excitement rolls out like fog exposing stark reality, and I dream up ways to jump ship.
When I think of jumping ship, I picture Jonah, a cannonball of rebellion, bubbling downward into the teeming waters of God’s Last Laugh. Not that rebellion is funny, but Jonah – three days later, a cannonball of new repentance – spewed by whale from ocean to shore is a funny image. You see, God had too much planned for Jonah to be jumping ship.
Though God has plans for us, too, in spite of our tomfoolery, I’d not recommend jumping ship. Cowards and rebels do that. First, I’d recommend obedience. If you’ve committed, be faithful. Now, what faithfulness looks like in your particular circumstance depends on the commitment in question. You might be locked in, or you might look around to find built in exits. If you sense God leading you out of your own sticky situation, take that exit. Exit gracefully.
But what if you’re just not sure? After all, you said yes for a reason. What if it’s meant to be?
Now you’re back at square, and here’s what I am telling myself as I ponder what to do now that I’ve said yes and want to jump ship.
Be still and know that I am God.Psalm 46:10
I take this to mean that in stillness, I will see God. In stillness, I will be assured of his presence and purpose in me. But with so many questions about what to do, how can I possibly be still? The secret to being still can be found in Philippians.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.Philippians 4:6-7
Right. If I ever have trouble being still, I am to pray out of thankfulness. I am to trade every worry and fear for peace. Peace calms the sea once fraught with worry and fear. Peace permeates. It quiets my spirit. In quietness of spirit, I just might see God standing beneath the exit sign, opening its door, waving me through.
Or I might not see him. In quietness of spirit, I might only see my question clear as day staring back at me.
He’s never gone, but not always outright visible. When that happens, I press onward in pursuit of more than mere answers to the question I carry.
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.Matthew 7:7-12
I take this to mean that when I ask, seek, and knock, I will find him, and it implies activity. I must not sit in stillness, waiting for God to pop up and tell me just what to do. No, I must walk on in stillness of heart, ever-faithful and tirelessly searching for what he has next – searching for him.
It’s easy to jump ship. But we were not called to easy.
If we must exit, we must do so gracefully.
If we’re not sure what to do, we must keep asking. Keep praying. Keep trading anxiety for peace. Discernment may not grace you immediately, but it will grace you. And always remember God’s vantage point is not our vantage point. Be on the lookout for answers you never even considered.
May you walk in stillness of heart, and may discernment grace you, as you opt our or press onward.