I drove to interview at my first call congregation during an April snowstorm. About thirty miles from the church, my wheels hit some ice on the road and my car jack-knifed from one side of the road to the other. Somehow my car didn’t go in the ditch, and though I was a few minutes late to my interview, I was just glad to make it there in one piece.
If I were someone on the lookout for signs from God, I might have rationalized that the fact that I made it to this interview safely meant that this was the place where God wanted me to be. Or, because some pretty hairy things happened shortly after I started, I might have wondered if that nerve-wracking experience on the road was God saying, “Look out!”
As it is, I’m pretty hesitant to say for certain what God might be doing in a particular situation. That’s not to say that God doesn’t give us signs, or to deny that it works for some people to ask God for a sign to affirm something they are supposed to do. It’s just that for me, looking for signs isn’t my go-to way of seeking God’s guidance.
Perhaps this is because I tend to think things through from every angle. At times this can be helpful, but at others it can be exhausting. That’s why, instead of looking for signs to confirm what God wants me to do in life, what I try to focus on instead is cultivating a sense of trust as well as appreciation for where I am and what I have.
To that end, I’ve come to accept that there are certain things we may never know, this side of heaven. We live in a broken world, and because of that brokenness, pain, disease, violence, and other horrible things happen. This isn’t the way God wants the world to be, but it’s our reality nonetheless. And I can’t help but think that most of the time, it’s best not to know when a curveball is coming our way.
Because the thing is, if we knew a challenge was coming and made a decision to avoid it, we would also miss out on the joy and blessings that might be found along the way. For example, if we had known how much trouble we would have going through the immigration process, would Thomas and I still have pursued a relationship? Or if I had known how difficult Esme’s birth would be, would I still have wanted to get pregnant? What I do know is that I would never want to trade having either of them in my life, no matter what.
My high school tennis coach used to remind us to take things one point, one game, one set, one match at a time. Especially in matches when there was a lot on the line and every point mattered, these words became a sort of mantra. It was her way of reminding us to not get ahead of ourselves or too flustered by a missed point. To this day, I can still hear the echo of Solie’s advice in my ears, and this wisdom extends far beyond the tennis court.
Yes, there are many times when I’d love to know where God is leading our family, or what might happen a few months or years down the road. But when I am able to take a deep breath and take one step at a time, it is much easier for me to recognize all the good things in my life right now.
Not only that, making the effort to notice these things and give thanks for them then helps me feel a sense of peace. And when I feel at ease, no matter what questions remain unanswered, it makes it much easier to trust God’s promise that whatever happens, everything is going to be okay.