“How much longer, Mama?”
“How much longer until we can watch TV? Play outside? Have a snack? Summer break?”
I have answers to those questions. Thank goodness. Because as any parent will tell you, kids ask questions like that ALL. DAY. LONG. And not being able to answer your child’s questions is maddening. Because as long as you have the answers, you still have the reins. You’re still driving the bus. You’re still captaining the ship. Until you’re not.
I love being the captain of my own ship. I love having my shipmates to scrub the deck (me harties! Just had to add that in there…)
This past year though, I completely lost my grip on the reins. I was NO longer in control of my ship. There was no bus driver. Because the bus had flat tires. My suspicion is that most of your “buses” were broken down on the side of the road this past year too.
And it stunk. No one wants to be aboard a ship where the captain doesn’t have the map. That’s when chaos ensues. That’s when luxury ocean liners crash into hidden icebergs.
And that… that, my friends, was 2020.
For all of us. All of us… except the actual Captain of the ship. He never lost control of the boat. His bus is still cruising down the freeway. And his horse is still galloping joyfully into the future. Because His reins are steadfast.
Now, don’t fret if, you too, often fall prey to the delusion that you’re driving your own destiny. It’s easier that way! It’s easier to think that we know exactly what’s coming down the pipe.
In two weeks we’ve got Susie’s birthday party. In a month, we’re heading to GeeMaw’s house. This summer, we’re camping out on the beach for a week. Next year, I’m scheduled for that promotion. We know what is coming and when it’s coming and why it’s coming. People are planners. But we fool ourselves into thinking we’re holding the pen. And then, when we are awoken into the actual reality that literally NOTHING is in our control, we freak out!
I’ll be the first to admit. 2020 FREAKED ME OUT. At the beginning of 2020 my biggest concern was convincing my husband that we were supposed to adopt. I thought that would be my biggest hurdle. And then, when I finally HAD convinced him (reality: I convinced him of nothing. He’s more stubborn than me. It was all God), I thought we were home free, and that we’d be home with our new little one by Christmas. Boy… was I OFF there?! Here we are one year later just clinging to hope that we might be able to bring our daughter home at some time in 2021. Bringing her home this year is going to be a miracle if it happens. But for now, we wait. And now it’s my turn to ask, “How LONG, Abba? How long, O LORD?”
But do you know what? I’m now settling in to the idea that it’s okay. It’s okay to not have the answers right now. I’m not the first one to ask these questions, and I won’t be the last. But now, at least, I’m starting to recognize to Whom the questions should be directed! And that’s the first step.
We have to look no further than the “Man after God’s own heart” himself, King David, to see that this is a tale as old as time. He cried out “How Long O LORD,” or something in a similar vein, more than almost any other person I can find in Scripture. I’ve been fascinated recently by reading the Psalms in conjunction with reading the events happening in David’s life as he wrote them. I know people much smarter and more faithful than me have probably been doing this their whole lives, but for me, it’s a revelation.
The Psalms in and of themselves offer such beauty and strength and hope, but when only when read in context can we see their true value. For example: Psalm 3 begins with “O LORD, how many are my foes! Many are rising up against me; many are saying of my soul, “There is no salvation for him in God.”” (Psalm 3:1-2). David certainly is up against something here. Clearly some people are out to get him. But do you know who it is? Not Saul, who has already been chasing after and trying to kill him half of his life because of a jealous rage. Not foreign enemies. It’s his SON – Absalom. His child. His baby.
His son has been standing at the city gates greeting all who come to seek solace from the king, telling them, “the king has no time for you… but oh… if I were leader, I would listen to you.” And why not trust him? He’s the prince after all. So the people turn against David and drive him out of his kingdom. And now his son is in pursuit trying to kill him. Talk about a “foe.” And this is not an isolated incident for David. It seems like he’s constantly on the run from this enemy or that enemy. Everyone wants him dead. And so we often see him crying out “How long, O LORD?” or “Why? O LORD?” or “Deliver me! O LORD!”
But the great thing about this example, is that it is when David is at these, what we would consider to be, “low” points in the circumstances of his life, that he is actually singularly focused on the real Captain of his ship. When David has relative “control” over his own circumstances, he tends to mess up. Majorly. As in, murder, adulterous, treason-level mistakes. Control isn’t a good look for David. But when he’s on the run, on his knees, in despair– this is when his life is actually under control the most. Because he recognizes and yields that the One ACTUALLY driving the bus is the Most High.
So, let’s not despair that we don’t know “how long” the circumstances of the past year that seem to be clinging to us are going to be sticking around. Now is a huge opportunity to yield control of the reins to the One who’s already got this all figured out. Because… He’s the one that’s been steering this ship all along.