The “feels like” temp had been hovering around the 118° mark for weeks. But it was Monday, and Monday is Grocery Day! Pat and I routinely visit at least one pharmacy, three grocery
stores and the tomato stand each week. This day, it was so hot and humid that the windshield fogged over before we even backed out of the driveway.
Pat is my mother-in-law, and my husband is Greg, and we all share a home. She moved in when Pop died three years ago and is still going strong! She can run circles around me and I regularly lose her when we’re shopping – she’s speedy AND tiny! Now she pushes the cart and that’s a much better arrangement for me because it slows her down a bit. Also, Pat has very poor eyesight – she no longer drives, and reading small print can be a real challenge for her.
So off we went to Aldi, and here’s our system: I park, she takes the quarter and gets the cart, and I grab the bags from the van and meet her inside.
I parked. She grabbed the quarter and took off. I got out and started to grab the bags, and suddenly I heard her exclaim, “My glasses are fogged over! I can’t see!” At least I thought that’s what she said, because by now she was halfway across the parking lot, carrying on about how both her glasses AND her sunglasses were fogged over, muttering, “I can’t see a thing!!” I almost had to run to catch her (Note: I DON’T RUN), and she was still walking and talking, marching diagonally across the parking lot, when I finally got to her.
I took her arm, and said, “MOM! Stop moving!”
She did, and I guided her inside the store where she cleaned both pairs of glasses, and we proceeded as usual.
Later, I was telling Greg this story, and when I got to the “stop moving” part we were already giggling. Then she chimed in, “Well I knew I was headed in the right general direction!”
No. No you were not. You were headed straight for a retaining wall.
Can you visualize this scene? I think it will go down in history around here – we all laughed til we cried.*
It got me thinking though, that this event is a perfect example of what I do all.the.time. I get an idea, “know” I’m headed in the generally correct direction, so I get busy and plan all the things and then just … start marching. On my own, moving diagonally through a busy busy world, totally blind. I wish I could tell you that I’ve gotten super duper good at waiting to hear from God before I move forward. I wish I could say that I don’t run ahead of Him. I wish I could tell you that I’m an excellent listener, and that I never sit still when He’s really telling me to GO.
In other words, I slam into that retaining wall more often than I care to admit.
Today, as I sat in near despair staring at my lengthy to-do list and trying to make a plan to get it all done. It just seemed impossible. In the midst of all this … planning, I heard an echo of a passage I read yesterday about Martha and Mary, and how Martha was very busy with preparing dinner while Mary was sitting at Jesus’ feet, listening to Him teach. Martha wanted Mary’s help with dinner. That seems reasonable to me – he was their special guest and I bet it was really important to her to prepare an incredible dinner that night. But here is how Jesus lovingly answered Martha’s request:
“My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41-42)
Mary chose to sit and worship, rather than work through a to-do list. She listened to Him teach, instead of endlessly reviewing her own plans. She waited, and she listened.
So … did I abandon all my plans as a result of all these thoughts? Not entirely. But I sure did pare that list down, sorted it into what seems like reasonable chunks, and most importantly I WROTE IT IN PENCIL. Yes, most of this stuff does need to get done, but God knows that. He alone knows the priorities. Only He knows the boundaries that might need set and exactly how I should spend my time. What I know is that worship is absolutely necessary.
I have a renewed desire to just stay put, until the next step on the path is revealed by His light. I hear the Lord say, “Angie, stop moving!” I want to do the next right thing. And I want to do it His way, in His timing. This requires a lot – relinquishing control, abandoning well-thought-out plans – in other words, total surrender. His hand on my elbow, He’s guiding me ever so gently into a place of clarity, a place I was starting to think was gone forever. I’m here, Lord, and I’m listening. May I stay still until YOU say it’s time to move.
“We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.” (Proverbs 19:21)
*This story is told with Pat’s full permission and approval!