The words "So where do we go from here?" can make the memories flow, flooding me with the undeniable reality of some really bad answers to that question, sometimes in part because there really was not, at the time, much consideration for the "we" part of it. It was too often more of an "I" question, refusing to realize that there are very few places we go without dragging others there along with us like resistant back-seat children rolling their eyes and protesting as we pull into yet another roadside attraction on a less-than-rollicking ride down some never-ending highway.
I do remember that my Dad, when I was a little boy, was as interested as I was in the roadside tin-roofed run-down buildings that boasted of the world's largest snake or a two-headed alligator or an albino something-or-another. Those were good stops. The frequent stops at places like Dusty's Drinking Hole, kids left sitting in a hot parking lot in a sticky-seated car, were not so good. We always knew that "where do we go from here?" would include a stop for beer.
No one travels alone, regardless of intent. Those of us who have, for one reason or another, struggled with one of the many forms of sexual brokenness, may have made many attempts to internalize it, but it splashes like careless bleach on those around us, taking a little color here and there from their lives and leaving a mark of our presence. Addictions are not targeted solely at the one decaying in the center; they reach out to stain the ones who care . . . and sometimes slowly decide not . . . to care.
One spring day when I was in junior high, I came home from school to find my mother standing in the living room of our little duplex. My stepfather had found us after a lengthy absence and had come by to bust up all the furniture and pull down the drapes, leaving our shattering exposed. "Where do we go from here?"
I remember when a best-friend friendship, which had evolved into something it never should have, imploded as we discovered we were making different choices . . . each of which would lead to struggles within, but would separate us permanently. A friendship became instead a wall. "Where do we go from here?"
I remember sitting in our living room surrounded by my children confronting me with more evidence of my corrupted double-life of surrender to temptation, eyes pleading for explanation, filling with condemnation, growing colder and more distant with each moment. Eventually, when all the truth had been spread out like layers of dirt burying me to near suffocation, I could only wonder . . . "Where do we go from here?"
I remember sitting in a cold, bare room at the county jail, keeping the distance between my shame and the shame of those surrounding me, thinking of all the loss to come and asking . . . "Where do we go from here?"
And perhaps the most searing memory of all comes not from a truth, but from a lie so sinister and evil that it set the moments of life's goodness to falling like dominoes until finally at the end of the train of falling there is only silence and separation, lives twisted by twisted lies. Desperate attempts at digging truth from beneath the debris of lies seemed hopeless enough, but the thimble threads of the lie became like reinforced steel in the hands of the bitter who should know better. The deep hurt and trust my children bore at this point was, I believe, encouraged and reinforced by overblown, meddling "told-you-sos" carelessly crafting their chaotic intrusion "out of love." Leaders blinded by their own misguided brilliance and over-stated purity of perspective, led us finally to that familiar question . . . "Where do we go from here?"
It seemed like in most cases, the unspoken word has always been "further down." Some travelers are headed for
But it's not. There is never just one direction, and there is always a guide. The hope lies in the question . . . "Where do WE go from here?"
I began this blog in
I did have expectations when I started writing this blog. Some are realized; others, perhaps too unrealistic, seem as distant as ever. Over-riding all is ever-strengthening hope --Once hidden in darkness and stunted by the separation sin presents -- that now grows and turns this traveler out of the cavern to see the peak on the horizon.
I sought most of all to confront this struggle, to drag it out into the open, into the light, deprive it of the nourishment of deception, divide it by sharing it, conquer it by dividing it, submit it to the truth of trust and obey . . . rather than submitting myself to distrust and decay. Confront I did. Conquer completely? Of that, I can not boast; the mind is ever in need of further discipline. But . . . I trust. And, a temptation becomes . . . a temptation . . . and not a taskmaster.
As for the unrealistic?
I'll be honest. When I walked away from my job at AT&T, I did not know where I was going. But, having always worked somewhere from about the age of 12, I thought I would be working somewhere, probably until I'm 112. Nope. "Where do we go from here?" in that respect, is just "here." Home. So . . . I trust.
I thought that in the 36 months that I have been writing the blog that I would be able to share in joy about the restoration of my family, that I would say that I had been able to see my grandchildren, would have been forgiven and given the opportunity to replace the thick walls of deception with thin panes of transparency. Nope. Not yet. "Where do we go from here?" is still unclear.
I thought, in the 36 months hence, that I would have restored relationships at the churches which disciplined me and removed me from fellowship, and that the leadership there would have re-visited my life and allowed me the opportunity to seek reconciliation. Nope. "Where do we go from here?" is clearly still not there. Their silence speaks of the emptiness in their own hearts.
So . . . in the face of all these uncompleted expectations, why can I share so much hope for those who struggle and seek freedom and for those who love them?
Because, the word in the question is "We." It is not "I." As individuals, we often think we know where God will go with us when we take His hand. We declare our trust, our yieldedness, but our shortsightedness guides our expectations and we forget that the Timeless One has those plans He told us about, and, if we walk with Him, that's where He intends to go: back to the plans He has for us.
Can there be a more comforting verse for the struggler and the stumbler? Can there be a better promise for the broken?
God doesn't wonder or question or ponder or weigh. He "knows." All.
God doesn't conjure, or consider, or react, or re-think. He has "plans." In place.
God doesn't quick-fix or pull out a one-fits-all remedy. He has plans for "you." You alone.
And, while we sit in dismay, flicking pieces of carnage off our scraped knees and counting our losses, God says this tailored-made-for-me plan is . . . to "prosper" me.
And while we know we are reviled by some and the subject of others' tortured thoughts and, as in my case, turned over for the destruction of the flesh . . . God, who loves me and knows me and has . . . plans . . . for me, says those plans will not harm me.
He says those plans will give me . . . hope.
Best of all, for the person in the spin-cycle of "Where will we go from here?" he has an answer. His plans give us a "future."
That's what I want. Heaven knows . . . and pretty much everyone else in the world it seems . . . I have a past. I want a future.
Yes . . . I still have expectations, but they are based on hope and prayer now, not a mind-numbing struggle to put it all back together, to bring everyone home, to see the lie surrendered on the altar of truth. My expectations are built on God-sustained hope, not self-draining struggle. My expectations are wrapped in the trust that God's Word is true and unbending: "I have plans for you." Knowing that, God, you can have my expectations . . . and where they don't fit your plans, discard them and replace them with your perfect ones.
I think clearly that if God has plans, He also has surprises, for our minds cannot conceive the good He has in store for us . . . if we trust. And obey.
Amazing words from God bear repeating: "I have plans for you."
For you too. I picture a cavernous room that stretches throughout eternity and a little nook that has a perfectly-preserved scroll on which His plans for you are down in great detail. Not discarded. Not given-up-on. Not removed. Not dusty, as He looks at them daily. Just ready.
Not on the plan at the moment? Stooped beneath the weight of unrealized expectations? A bit tattered from the target practice of the one-eyed ones who wink closed the plank-filled eye and take aim with the other? God knows.
So . . . .where will we go from here?
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