Running Away

It is summer time in the land of YLF and music planning which means that I am usually very busy. I wouldn’t say that I am necessarily stressed, but there are times when I could very much use a break. I was feeling this way even before the summer began. I looked over my schedule and saw that I did not have a vacation booked. Now, typically I don’t go on vacation. Trips are often expensive and I no longer travel with my family. Although a vacation sounded nice, I had a feeling I wouldn’t be able to make it happen.

But as I made plans to attend a conference some distance from my home, I spoke with the conference director and learned that there would be some changes with my travel plans. Due to the fact that certain flights were rather expensive, I agreed to fly out a few days prior to the conference in order to save the denomination some money. I made plans to spend those few days with some family friends who lived a few hours from the conference site. I was bound and determined to make this my “vacation,” and it was just as relaxing as I hoped it would be.
In the days leading up to my departure for the conference, I was bombarded with numerous tasks and mounting frustration. I had never wanted to leave home so badly before, and I was looking forward to leaving my cares behind for a few days.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was definitely running away from the stress at home. I should have worked on processing everything before I left town and just used my time away as a means to recharge my batteries. But instead, I left with the knowledge that there would be much to do on my return and I just wanted to forget about it. It was like I put everything on hold instead of taking the opportunity to work through it and possibly eliminate some of the issues at hand.
I was anticipating the free hours and the realization that I had nothing pressing to do for two whole days! It was exiting and liberating! But then, as sometimes seems typical, things didn’t turn out how I had planned. My stay with my family friends was wonderful and so was the conference, but everything changed when I considered my flight home. Although I had helped to plan my itinerary, I had not considered what the remaining days of my trip would look like.

The conference ended midday on a Saturday, and I wasn’t scheduled to fly home until late the next day. I wondered what I would possibly do with over 24 hours of free time. I called a friend who formerly attended my church and made plans to attend church with her, but that only accounted for about three hours of my time. I started to think about what was available to me in my hotel room, and all I could think of was mindless hours on the Internet while catching random shows on cable TV.

But here’s the thing: the conference center was under construction, and consequently, the cable and Internet service were spotty. There went my plans for meaningless time-wasting activities. I knew with certainty that I was going to be bored, and in that moment of realization, I almost wanted to go home. Yes, you read that correctly; I wanted to go home despite all of the stresses and frustrations that I was sure to face on the horizon. What was I thinking?

As you can tell, my plans for running away didn’t sync up to how God wanted to use that weekend to bless me in so many ways. Due to the fact that the cable and Internet didn’t provide much service, I was forced to explore the conference center. There I was able to connect with two wonderful conference attendees who were also staying an extra night on campus before flying home. We talked for hours and I was able to play and sing for them as a means of practicing for worship leading at an upcoming retreat.

I made two new friends in the process, and I was almost grateful that my earlier plans hadn’t panned out. I had wanted to run away and get away from it all, but that wasn’t God’s plan for me. Instead, I was able to embrace the beauty of friendship and focus on what truly mattered.

The Provider

It was six days before I had to travel to a conference some distance from my home and I had no idea how I was going to get there. Nearly two months previous I had hired someone to drive me to the conference, and for the first time in a long while, I felt that I had accomplished something huge. It was usually so difficult to line up transportation, and here I had everything set in place… that is until a phone call that changed everything. With a few simple words, I was left stranded without a plan. My transportation provider was not going to come through for me, and I was frustrated and angry.

With six days to go until my departure, I was desperate. If I didn’t find a ride, I wouldn’t be able to attend the event, and that made me even more upset. There was nothing I could do. My hands were tied and there seemed little hope. A friend encouraged me to hold out for something greater. “God has a reason for this,” she told me. “Maybe He has a specific driver in mind for you… someone who was meant to take you to the conference all along.”

In my state of anger, I couldn’t see how that could be possible. I was too busy being overtaken by the situation that I didn’t see the wisdom in her words. Instead, I took matters into my own hands and put a desperate plea out on Facebook. I practically begged for a ride— offering reimbursement for gas and mileage, free food, and undying love and affection.

My friends who responded to my post on Facebook seemed sympathetic, but yet, no one came through for me. I went to bed after a terrible-no-good day, too tired to even pray about my predicament. But as my friend pointed out earlier, God had someone in mind, and He was about to come through for me in a huge way!

I awoke the next morning feeling exhausted, almost ready to give up on the whole thing… that is, until I checked my messages on Facebook. I couldn’t believe it! I found a post from a church member who was actually free the day of the conference and would be willing to provide transportation. I was so excited and relieved that I confirmed this person’s offer right away. God had provided for my needs and I was so incredibly thankful. I can remember praising Him out loud at that very moment.

Oh, how quickly I forget about His amazing provision! It seems that similar situations play themselves out in my life day after day, and I fail to see the beauty of how He provides. In fact, it took a recent incident with my computer to remind me of His incredible grace and mercy even when I doubt Him.

I was having trouble installing a program on my computer— such a trivial thing— when I just gave up out of pure frustration. “There has to be an easier way!” I grumbled. I didn’t know what I would do without my word processor. I am a writer after all, and I live, eat and breathe words! I needed this to work, but it didn’t look like the ordeal was going to end in my favor.

But then just as quickly as despair entered the equation, I remembered something my father told me ages ago. I went online and researched what we had talked about, and in moments, I had a solution to my dilemma. I didn’t hold back my praise in that moment: “God, why are you so good to me!” I said out loud. “I doubt your faithfulness and yet you still come through for me! You are so good… so incredibly good.”

I kept all of this in mind as I prepared for my upcoming retreat for people with disabilities. Once more, I needed a ride and I was dreading having to ask for help again. I doubted that anyone would want to leave home at dawn and drive through rush hour traffic to make sure I could meet a shuttle bus. Well, it looks like I doubted for nothing again; I have a ride lined up for that day, believe it or not, and I am so incredibly grateful that God opened that door so this person might be able to play a role in helping me on my way.

So what is the lesson in all of my ramblings? Well, its quite simple, actually. I read a post online recently that captured my attention. It said something like this: Why focus on our PROBLEMS when we can thank the PROVIDER? How true is that? So as I prepare for the retreat and in the future as I encounter other challenges, I pray that I can reach out to the Provider before I dwell on the Problem.

Completely

Recently, I was watching an episode of “The Bachelorette.” Now, normally, this isn’t a show I typically watch. Summer activities and evening priorities keep me from kicking back and watching mindless reality television. But on this evening, I watched as Desiree, the bachelorette, was blindsided by one of her front-runner suitors in part one of the season finale.

As the young man offered his embrace and mumbled words of apology, Desiree cried out her heartbreak and gut-wrenching sadness. I can’t remember her exact words, but as she and the gentleman talked, she relayed her feelings. I think it went something like this: “I’ve loved so completely,” she said. “But I’ve never felt what its like to have that love reciprocated.”

Now, for those of you who are not familiar with “The Bachelorette” and its premise, let me explain briefly what she may have meant here. Desiree, and other contestants from the show “The Bachelor” are cast as possible matches for one man who dates and finally chooses one woman to propose to at the end of the show. Those who the bachelor does not choose are later in the running to possibly be the next bachelorette, where they can then have their pick of eligible bachelors and hopefully find the one they have been searching for. Desiree had already been on “The Bachelor” and had not been chosen. She said she loved Sean, but nevertheless, he did not choose her in the end.

Now once more, Desiree finds herself rejected. I won’t lie to you; I teared up when I heard her crying and saw the devastation written all over her face. But what really effected me were her words about never feeling completely loved and never having her love reciprocated.

Most of you are aware that I am single. I have had my share of relationships but none that have been really serious. I have felt the disappointment of rejection, but I have never been in a relationship long enough to feel the utter loss when one I loved has walked away. So honestly, I can’t say that I identify with Desiree’s pain. However, I do know what it feels like to be loved completely and to have that love reciprocated.

You might be wondering how that is possible if I’ve never been in a serious relationship. Well, you see, I am in a committed and very serious relationship… with the King of the universe. Yes, you read that correctly. I am in love with my best friend, Jesus. He is everything to me and I love Him with all my heart.

“But He’s not here in the flesh!” you might object. “How can you love someone who isn’t there to hold you, talk to you, take you out on dates, etc.?”

Well, its definitely not a conventional relationship that can be viewed through human standards. Although I love Him deeply, nothing compares to the passion with which He loves me. There are times when I don’t give the praise, honor, and glory He deserves. I don’t always come to Him in prayer, probably because I somehow think I can do it all myself. I hurry through my busy schedule some days without barely uttering a word to Him. But He’s still there no matter what, and I only need to reach out to Him in times in need.

Its hard to imagine that He would want to pursue me in my lukewarm state. Sometimes, if I’m being honest, I don’t reciprocate the love He has shown me. But even so, He remains at the center of my world, and He longs for me to spend time with Him. Did you catch that? He longs to spend time with me! Out of everything He could be doing, all of the souls He could commune with, He longs to spend time with me! How amazing is that?

Even with this realization, I still have to remind myself that He is enough for me. Sometimes this is hard for a single girl like me to internalize. Like Desiree, I have never felt another man truly loved me. I want to feel that love some day should God bring that him into my life. But until then, I need to cling to the One who truly completes me and loves me unconditionally. No, its not the same as earthly romance or a physical representation of love and devotion, but the love of my Best Friend is beyond compare.

As I close for today, I think of a song that I led at church a few weeks ago. I have made these lyrics the praise that I often sing to Him as I go about my daily activities simply so that I might be reminded that He is truly enough for me.

EnoughBy Chris Tomlin and Louie Giglio

All of You is more than enough for all of me
For ev’ry thirst and ev’ry need
You satisfy me with Your love
And all I have in You is more than enough
You’re my supply my breath of life
Still more awesome than I know
You’re my reward worth living for
Still more awesome than I know
And
You’re my sacrifice of greatest price
Still more awesome than I know
You’re my coming King You are ev’rything
Still more awesome than I know
More than all I want more than all I need
You are more than enough for me
More than all I know more than all I can say
You are more than enough