I like to get lost. I enjoy it.
I like to find another way. I want to see the surprising view, the hidden vista.
I want to feel clever when my directional acumen (that’s a real thing – and I have it) lands me in the right neighbourhood again.
I welcome the unknown road. I welcome the bend that reveals a new landscape.
It brings me joy. It is like a deep sigh.
Life isn’t like that, though. Not really. There is ALWAYS the possibility of danger around the bend. We cannot control that.
The phone call that comes early in the morning with devastating news.
A flat tire on the way to an important appointment.
Job loss. Illness. A Pandemic
Sometimes the stressful surprises are good! Pregnancy. A new house. A new job.
Once, a pheasant dropped out of a tree into the middle of the road just ahead of me. That was a surprise.
If we go around enough bends and encounter danger – unexpected and unstoppable – the journey becomes stressful, exhausting.
A friend today called it “adrenaline fatigue”, always waiting for the next thing… We probably all have a bit of adrenaline fatigue about now.
We are on alert, trying to be ready for whatever situation is hurtling toward us around the next bend.
We cannot see what is ahead. It looks so peaceful.
What can we do?
When I feel overwhelmed, I often think of this bit of advice from Elisabeth Elliot. “When you don’t know what to do—then do the thing in front of you.”
“Do the next thing.” I don’t know any simpler formula for peace, for relief from stress and anxiety than that very practical, very down-to-earth word of wisdom. Do the next thing. That has gotten me through more agonies than anything else I could recommend.” Elisabeth Elliot, Suffering is Never for Nothing, 2019.
What is yours to do? Do that.
Do the thing that is in front of you.
Psalm 37:3 says it like this, “Trust in the Lord and do good…”
Trust in the Lord. And then, do good. Do the next thing. Do what is in front of you.
When I can’t see around the bend, I can take the next step. I don’t need to see any further ahead than that.
When we “Trust in the Lord” we remember this promise:
I will lead the blind by ways they have not known,
along unfamiliar paths I will guide them;
I will turn the darkness into light before them
and make the rough places smooth.
These are the things I will do;
I will not forsake them.
“I will not forsake them.”
The Lord is the one who sees what lies ahead.
This is the One who is light in the darkness.
“Even the darkness is not dark to you,” the psalmist says. (139:12)
I may want to know what’s coming (and often I’m glad I didn’t know), but I know the One who knows what’s coming.
That’s what I would have said...