I recently watched a fascinating documentary called “Meru” about a small team of elite mountain climbers who set out to climb a peak known as the “Sharks Fin” in Northern India. This particular peak has seen more failed attempts by elite climbing teams over the past 30 years than any other ascent in the Himalayas. But these guys set out to do it anyhow.
The first time they went, they got caught in a storm on the side of the mountain and ran out of food. They didn’t make it to the top.
Not long after the failed attempt, one of the climbers, photographer Jimmy Chin, got caught in an avalanche and somehow, by the grace of God, landed at the foot of the mountain that just crashed down around him on top of the snow.
I don’t know what it must feel like to have a mountain crumble with you on it, but I do know what it feels like to have the journey you think you’re on come crashing down around you. I know what it is to plan to summit something and reel with the disappointment that there’s no way you’ll make it after all.
I started reading my own book last week from the perspective of a reader instead of as the author. It was weird, and I was kinda mad at myself and God when I did. Because my own dang book…words I wrote this very year kept punching me in the gut in what I’m living right now. The Lord used the words He gave me to write to whack me upside the head with truth over the things I’m dealing with right now. And I have to be honest…it was almost a little infuriating. I actually was faced with taking my own advice and hearing truths I need to stomach.
I called my friend Sara and told her maybe I didn’t want to write books anymore if it meant that I’d have to keep doing the hard things…walking through the relentless warfare…crying over the things that keep breaking and making me weaker and weaker as I go along. There, I said it. This journey has been hard, and somewhere in me I know it’s because I did exactly what God wanted me to do and I have an enemy who isn’t keen on having people do that.
Funny thing about writing a book…you live through a bunch of things enough to tell about it, to process it with wisdom, and then somewhere along the way in the recording of it all, the proverbial crap hits the fan and you’re chewing the cud of your own story to overdigestion. Somewhere in there, you think to yourself, “WHAT HAVE I DONE!?! And can I do this all over again? Can I believe this over and over for myself?”
The past few months haven’t gone as planned…AT ALL. What I was planning was to climb Mt Kilimanjaro with One Million Thumbprints when my book launched. I was planning to have all my ducks in a row for 2016 to enter it with health and all the freshness of a new season. What has happened instead though leaves me ordering a Priscilla Shirer study on Gideon because he is the guy the Lord keeps putting in my face. He is the guy who started off for battle with a big army that kept getting whittled down to nothingness…whittled down to stare at impossible odds…whittled down with exhaustion and failure and changed plans…and somehow in all that insufficiency, the Lord showed up and Gideon and his tiny army overcame in an impossible battle.
I’m reading my own book and I’m reminded again that this big, good God I serve isn’t tidy. Life on this earth isn’t tidy. It’s messy and hard and broken and STILL…I do believe the words I’ve lived and written…there is hope to be found. But for crying out loud, it is NOT easy to find it sometimes! I’m rediscovering hope in the God of possibility even now…even after I wrote a book about it. Let the record show that even when God gives you something good to say, He is probably going to punch you in the gut with it shortly thereafter just to make sure you meant what you wrote.
What I’m finding though is that I did mean it. And I am going to relentlessly pursue hope and stay curious about this God who calls me by name.
I’m not climbing Mt Kilimanjaro anymore. I talked to my dear friend Belinda a few weeks ago in tears when I realized that I don’t have margin to properly train and for the first time in my life, my health has been rocky the past few months. My arms presently look like bruised pin cushions after repeated blood work and biopsies and I’m waiting on test results to come in while words like “lupus” are being spoken to me with some measure of certainty. My kids had the stomach bug the week of Christmas and it messed up our plans, and my brother got engaged and scheduled the wedding in China for 2 days before my book launches. It was a week of digesting things outside of my plan…far, far outside of my plan.
I don’t know how it all turns out. I don’t know how it works or makes sense or where it all ends up. And then I read my own words…
“A curious faith is a mobile one. And understanding is an action verb that unfolds before us.” I won’t know it all now. I can’t see it all now, but I can see the One who does and His mercies in the midst of my messy life are new every morning.
“The unfolding of your word gives light and imparts understanding to the simple.” (Ps. 119:130)
I’m faced with the illusion of control and how in his kindness, God allows things to be shaken up so that we trust Him more and subsequently find ourselves deeper in awe of how He restores the untidy things in our lives.
“Untidy” seems like a tame word even…because sometimes the bits of mess really feel like they might be better described with profanity.
So here it is…the rubber of faith meeting the road of living, and I’m pressing on towards the goal in Christ Jesus. And just because the mountain I might be climbing could be called lupus instead of Kilimanjaro, or because I’m course correcting my own plan to follow a journey the Lord is unfolding, I CHOOSE HOPE. And I choose to follow. And I keep believing that the certainty of my faith isn’t in where I’m going so much as in who I’m following.
*For the record, if you’re looking for a kick in the pants, might I recommend my own dang book. At least you know you’re not alone in the trenches of figuring out this thing called Curious Faith…I’m right there with you. It’s available for preorder now HERE.