I had a phone conversation earlier today that was…let’s just say…not too fun. You may be able to relate:
I’ve been working on an idea for some time now. To me, it feels like one of those life-altering ideas; it hits and you shiver: “Should I go for it? Do I dare?”
The idea started germinating in August 2008 when Heather and I began asking this simple, but disturbing question: “What’s next?” We knew our stint in Europe was coming to a close. We wanted to finish well but we also wanted to anticipate what would await us on the horizon.
During our final two years in Europe we explored different possibilities—trying to discern an answer to the what next question—only to have certain doors closed.
“Okay,” I thought. “God has something else in mind for us. I’ll trust.”
We moved back to the States in the summer of 2010 and have kept asking that question, all the while trying to be faithful to what was right in front of us at the time. We knew some kind of focus would come along in time so we’ve spent these past two years trying to anticipate what that focus is.
The bigger question has been difficult to answer because it deals with the juxtaposition of identity and vocation, a sense of what it would be best for me to do in light of who I am, how God has designed me.
As I reflected on lessons learned and sought to discern how God has uniquely wired me, I hit on answers in fits and starts. One month I’d feel a kind of clarity, then next—nothing but fog and confusion. Then, last December I finally felt I had an answer:
That’s what I do. I play and I help others play.
So, for the past seven months I’ve tested the idea of play in conversation with folks, telling them about this simple seed that has significant creative potential.
The idea gripped me these past months because it suddenly became not just a theoretical speculation but rather a distinct possibility: I’ve been in conversation with folks about linking up to make the idea a reality.
I’ve been thinking to myself, “Could this really be true? Could I really have the privilege of doing this?”
And then…the phone conversation today: you know the story. “Sorry. This isn’t going to work out, after all.”
Those words were never actually spoken, but that was the gist of it.
As I hung up the phone I realized I had a choice: to trust or to despair. This is to say: I choose trust. I trust that God has my best interest at heart. I trust that when God says no to one idea, it is because he has a better yes. I believe that roadblocks are not dead ends; they are opportunities to grow, to clarify calling.
I have a sense that God is saying, “I closed that doorway so you could stay outside. I want to show you the wide open space I have in mind for you.”
I come to this intersection and know that turning back is foolishness. Left, right or straight, it is all forward. I cannot help myself: the joy and dance and, yes, playfulness of a God—who has become to so many little more than a stern taskmaster—calls to us with whispers, poems and rests among musical phrases.
Either art has gripped me or it has not. Putting it like that: I can do no other than lose myself and bless the God who smiles in temporary disappointment.
I will press on with or without Plan A.