If I ever become a movie director, you’ll know it because of two things:
1) I will begin work on a red carpet dress that is made out of bath towels. To my knowledge, it hasn’t been done before and my years of Project Runway watching and curtain-sewing experience have proven that it is a vastly under-utilized material.
2) The opening scene of my movie would take place in a car either at night or early in the morning. There will be a cool song playing and the lonely driver would be crying. Even if this movie is a comedy, I’m fully convinced that that is the best opening scene ever. In college, when the stress got to me and I needed to get away, I would go get in my car and go drive along a highway somewhere listening to sad music. It was all very poetic and should be recreated in cinema as often as possible.
Please hold your collective breath for my directorial debut.
God and I have been
wrestling over discussing control lately. The other day, I came across this verse.
9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives,10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please himin every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, 12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. (Colossians 1)
It’s a very dense verse, so you might have to read it a few times. When I read the part in red, for whatever reason, the image that comes into my mind is a stage. God, as director, has qualified us to become a part of this “kingdom of light”. We’re all standing around in the dark and God has invited us to step into the light with him. God is doing these cool things and He’s invited ME and YOU to join Him.
Okay, here’s another sidebar. My parents tell me that when my sister and I were little, we performed COUNTLESS shows. Some of these, such as our rendition of Achy-Breaky Heart or Michael Jackson dancing where we “moon walk” and “grab our crotches”, are caught on video, but those were only the tip of the iceberg. In one of these videos, I can’t remember which, my sister is doing a performance of some sort and I jump into the screenshot and edge her out. Perhaps, at one point, she had invited me to participate in her video. Being the kind, wiser, older sister that I was, I took that to mean, “Please come shove my face out of the scene because you’re such a better actress.”
God has invited me into His kingdom and, as a result, I’m getting to do really cool things. Daily, I interact with people from different countries, via my work or our UTD ministry. We just had a South Korean student stay with us for two weeks (more on this later). I’m part of a church that has people actively seeking justice for the oppressed. I’m adopting an older child who’s HIV+ from Thailand.
Here’s the problem. God invites me to participate in His kingdom and then I try to face-shove Him out of the picture. He says, “Hey Beth! Wouldn’t it be cool if you adopted a kid? What if it was a special needs adoption?” and I say, “Sure! Good idea. I know how to do it better, so leave me alone now.”
I used to think that this was because I was forgetful. I had simply forgotten what God had done for me in the past so I needed to be better about remembering all the times He had proven that I could trust Him. But recently He’s clearly said, “Girl, this ain’t bout no trust issues. This is about control.” And He’s right. I know that He’s perfectly capable of taking care of me. He’s big. He loves me. He knows what to do. In my mind, I trust Him but it’s not about that- it’s about control. If I am the one in charge, then I can do things my way and I can get it done on MY timeline and things will go MY way. (Yeah right, right?) This little wrestling dance that we do every time an issue comes up doesn’t happen because I don’t trust Him to handle it. It’s because I want to do it myself, on my terms. It’s selfish and prideful.
You see, the show that God runs has all of these moving parts, all these beautiful people that He’s invited to participate, all of this redemptive work that’s being done out of humility and unconditional love. He invites me to join and I do for a bit, then I decide that things aren’t happening like I want them to happen so I try to do a spin-off.
Now introducing…The Beth Show.
I know it sounds entertaining. You might be able to watch God and I wrestle for a bit about creative control but eventually, He lets me have what I want and I gain “control”. Then you can watch me juggle the 90,000 things that are on my plate right now. Then you can watch one little thing set me off (like UPS “losing” our South Korean student’s laptop in the mail on the same day I find out that my textbook for school was ripped to shreds by a dog when it got delivered to the wrong house). All of the other things come crashing down, my veneer of having it all together bursts into a thousand pieces, and everything comes out. All of the stress and worry explodes in, what can only be described as, feelings vomit.
WHY WON’T THE ORPHANAGE EMAIL ME BACK I WANT TO PAINT THE LIVINGROOM WHY DON’T MY CLOTHES FIT ANYMORE I DON’T HAVE TIME TO TRAIN FOR THIS HALF MARATHON CAN I EVEN DO THIS HALF MARATHON UPS LOST MY PACKAGE HOW ARE WE GOING TO AFFORD THIS ADOPTION I HAVE TO MAKE THOSE INVITATIONS THE MAIL LOST THE CHECK FOR MY SCHOOL I CAN’T FIND ANY CURTAINS I LIKE EVERYONE AT WORK IS ASKING ME TO DO TOO MUCH I’M SCARED AND UNSURE ABOUT GOING PART TIME THERE ARE TOO MANY DISHES IN THE SINK FIFTEEN PEOPLE WANT TO HANG OUT WITH ME AND I DON’T HAVE ANY TIME WE HAVE TO DO THESE TEN HOURS OF ADOPTION TRAINING LIKE YESTERDAY A DOG LITERALLY ATE MY HOMEWORK I DON’T KNOW HOW TO ANSWER HER QUESTIONS WHAT IF THIS DOESN’T PAN OUT WHERE DID ALL THIS JUNK COME FROM WHAT’S THAT SMELL GRACIE NEEDS A BATH I HAVE TO ORDER MORE HEARTWORM PILLS OUR MASTER BATHROOM IS SO SMALL THAT I CAN REST MY HEAD ON THE WALL WHEN I’M SITTING ON THE TOILET MY PRAYER LIFE HAS BEEN CRAP AND NOW I FEEL GUILTY I DON’T WANT TO FEEL GUILTY I WANT TO DO THE RIGHT THING I FEEL LIKE I’M NEGLECTING MY HUSBAND BECAUSE WE’RE SO BUSY I DIDN’T HAVE TIME TO RUN THIS WEEK MY SCOOTER DOESN’T WORK I FEEL LIKE EVERYONE WANTS TO HEAR HOW GREAT I’M DOING WHEN REALLY I am just so tired and stressed out and tired of carrying all of this.
Sometimes, people make fun of the weeping and gnashing of teeth in the Bible. Friends, I have wept and I have gnashed my teeth. If I had a sackcloth, I probably would have worn it.
It is at this point, when I’ve let it all hang out, when my emotions are so raw that their physical manifestations might violate my vegetarian diet, that God, who has been watching my train wreck the whole time with His hands over His ears, chewing on His fingernails, quietly steps in and invites me to join His show…again. He picks up the broken pieces of what I had been juggling. He reassembles some, repurposes others. He carries my burdens and we rejoin the beautiful dance of life that He’s choreographed…again.
Friends, I do not deserve this invitation, not even once, but day after day, wrestling match after wrestling match, God continues to invite me to join His kingdom of light.
If that ain’t love, then what is?