I sat at camp meeting last weekend, mind racing with ideas, only occasionally “tuning in” to what the speaker had to say. I was thinking about the future. I was thinking about the next step; the next path my life will take when my current adventure ends in May. Several weeks ago I had begun to consider my options, compiling a list of possibilities; of choices I could make. I filled a page with foreseeable options to be researched or considered in the coming days, scribbling down grad schools and career paths and locations; never considering why I was doing it in the first place.
And so I sat at camp meeting – at a place which was apparently Spirit-filled, though I couldn’t feel it since I was too distracted by my own thoughts – thinking through my options once more; considering each different combination in light of recent experiences and observations. I sat at camp meeting unable to focus on anything save my own unmade plans; my own future; my own thoughts; my own life.
It took me a while to realize it but all my planning was taking me away from what I was doing right then. My considerations of the future – the “next step” – were all robbing me of my focus on the here and now. I was present (physically) but I wasn’t present (mentally or emotionally). I was living in an imaginary future that will probably never come to pass. And this was taking me away from the responsibilities I had in front of me.
I’ve always been a planner; a list maker; a prioritizer – it’s part of what made me a great student in school. But I never realized until recently that my planning was drawing my focus away from today and into tomorrow, leaving me with a constant obsession with “what comes next.” When I get home today I’m going to… and then… and then… and then… Tomorrow I’ll… and then… and then… Next week…
Stop and focus on this moment. On the kids quietly (or not so quietly) working in front of you. On the student you wish didn’t need so much personal attention. On the student who isn’t asking for help but who probably should be. On writing a solid devotional. On studying a new culture. On studying a dying language. On reviving a youth group at a local church. On meeting the needs around you – right here; right now.
And I came to the realization that, as hard as it is for me – the planner – not to know what comes next, I can’t afford to spend any more energy and time worrying about a future that I can’t control. As much as it tortures me to know exactly when my “planned life” ends (August 2017 in case you were wondering), I have to let it be and trust that God has a plan; that something will be there when I need it to be. I’ve been in this situation before – just over a year ago when I graduated from college. Then I had a plan for a grand total of four days – just long enough to drive from Kentucky to Arizona – after that, life was a mystery. And I’m in a similar position now. You’d think it would be easier the second time…
Have you ever visited a friend or relative (probably your grandma, let’s be honest) and stood just inside the doorway with your jacket on only to be chastised and told to “stay awhile”? I’d been living life with my coat on; with my shoes on; ready to walk right back out the door.
Somehow I need to find a way to do what is hardest for a planner like me: relax. Stop.
Stop and live life with the people in this community – after all, that’s what I’m here for.
Stop and listen to the desert rain.
Stop and watch the quail wander across the yard.
Stop and pray for each of my students.
Stop and focus on the task at hand – and let tomorrow worry about itself.
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. – Jesus (Matt 6:34; NIV)
Id o wud tash mat g Jiosh nahto! (This is the day that the Lord has made!)
- First quarter is quickly wrapping up at school – we’ve been in nearly 7 weeks now! It’s hard to believe it’s gone by so quickly.
- Most of my students are doing well so far in school but there is one that I am struggling to reach. I can’t go into any details here but prayers for the student and for me in finding a way to connect with him/her would be fantastic.
- I’ve started helping out with the youth at First Papago Baptist here in Sells. (Strictly speaking, I accidentally volunteered to co-lead it…) It’s a great group of kids but it’s small. We’re hoping to revitalize the ministry this year by bringing back some old members and finding new ones.
- Starting next week, I’ll be teaching a few beginning piano lessons. Since I’ve never actually taken piano “lessons” and am far from a master pianist, this one is a little scary. But there are kids who want to learn and no one else who they’ve found to teach so I’m going to give it a shot to meet the need. Prayers would be appreciated!
- As for the great mouse hunt: there is at least one mouse still in the house but I believe I’ve blocked its exits and all food sources – it’s only a matter of time until it falls into a trap!
- In case you were wondering, there are still cows. And horses. And dogs. And very large frogs. I also spotted a tarantula, a horned toad, and a couple of snakes.
GRACE AND PEACE!