The Divine What If

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I’m drinking wine. I don’t think it’s “Focus-approved.” Just thought you should know.

But I come from California where the wine flows freely and you can get a case (of good stuff) for $20. I worked at a winery in Santa Rosa for about a year out of college and it was one of the more interesting times in my life. I also worked as a bartender for about 4 years just out of college after leaving my bank teller job for the more lucrative trade of cocktail-slinging, and let me tell you, you learn a lot hanging out at a bar. I lived in London for about 6 months and traveled to Edinburgh and France, living on credit and living from hand to mouth with friends who had worked as club dancers, bouncers, and part-time drug dealers. I’ve known cross-dressers and palm-readers, hung out with the high and low, the seekers and the cynical. My experience isn’t comprehensive, and I certainly don’t say all this to toot some imaginary horn, but I really think there’s something to experiencing life in all it’s horrible, wonderful, chaotic, and universal beauty. And too many times I feel confronted by an unnatural restriction to stay in one place and become an expert on one little corner of the world.

That’s not living. There’s something admirable about Midwestern farmers’ families who don’t roam and stay in one place doing the same thing, faithfully, for 739 years. But there’s also something eerie and sad about the people who don’t explore beyond their place of birth at the same time. What is creation if not variety? For some reason I envy the man who can stay in one place, one job, never questioning, for 70 years. I don’t really know why, but maybe I’ll write about him someday to find out. There’s so much life to be lived and I can’t help but ask the question, What if? It propels me and my ambition, my passions and writing. What if I did this, went there, tried that? And would I always wonder if I didn’t?

Maybe it’s the converse of the what if question that really gets to me. What if I never did? It has bearing on my theology too. Sin, for instance, is putting my own selfish desires and my personal ambitions before obedience to God. I want to be motivated by the divine What if, not my own. The distinction between obedience and temptation can be so razor thin at times, it almost seems God is testing me, seeing what I think, and waiting for the answer to confirm my dependence on Him. I’m made to risk; He made me this way. I have to employ it wisely.

I’m currently considering some job opportunities that will take me into foreign territory. I want to believe God has the end in mind. He sees my final decision and He’s happy with me for making it. All other considerations of family, personal ambition, financial reward, locale, etc. have little bearing. What is it He’s asking me to do? And if I confidently move forward in the knowledge that risk—for the divine What if—is always best, all things will work together for good.

Can this be all that true faith requires?

My final word on Luci Shaw’s excellent book, The Crime of Living Cautiously, will follow soon. Thanks everyone, for your patience.

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7 thoughts on “The Divine What If”

  1. I wrestle with those two sides of me–the girl who wants to live on a farm (complete with white picket fence) for 70 years and the girl who knows that in risk I grow in Christ. I’ve chosen the latter, and although the growth this year has been excruciating, I wouldn’t trade it for picket fence stability. So, press on, friend, and tell me what you learn in the hallowed halls of risk…

  2. This post reminds me of that wonderful, whimsical song made famous by uber-rocker, Kermit the Frog. The Rainbow Connection. “Have you been half asleep, and have you heard voices? I’ve heard them calling my name. Is this the sweet sound that calls the young sailors? I think they’re one and the same. I’ve heard it too many times to ignore it; it’s something that I’m supposed to be . . .”
    Risk rankles in the hearts of God’s gypsies, like Jeremiah’s fire in his bones. It’s not necessarily for everyone, but for those who hear the song.
    I do believe God has the end in mind and sees the final decision. I pray with you that the pathway is clearly marked.
    Next time you’re sitting around sipping merlot and wondering what to do with all your free time (har), you might want to check this out:
    http://www.livejournal.com/~jaezesse. My daughter is wandering through Europe for two months and stopping in Internet cafes to write about it. I think you’d find her a kindred.
    Your chum,
    Jeanne

  3. Blessings on your journey, Mick. I’ve lived a bit of a nomad’s life myself. I’ve learned there are times for wandering and times for sitting still. Our God will help you know which time is which. Just keep sharing your thoughts with us, wherever you end up.
    Linda

  4. well that explains a lot.
    and jeanne kermit the frog is one of the best singers out there.
    take the plunge mick. christianity is a scary ride at times, but where else can we go?
    i wish more christians were the hang out with sinners breed. perhaps then it wouldn’t be so stuffy in church. not that stuffy is entirely bad. but i heard one, lived in one place her whole life teacher tell my girl to be “serious” when talking to God. i’m so glad i heard that. i told my girl, are you serious when you talk to your daddy? she said no. i said, talk to God like you talk to your daddy. there are times of seriousness, sure. but there are many, many more times of piling on the floor giggling.
    God is sooooo good.
    blessings,
    suz

  5. Ah, yes, I love the wisdom and wit and even the nasal vocal tones of Kermit the frog, and Jeanne my friend, I am so glad you reminded me of this stellar hit. I have been humming it all morning.
    I offer another Hollywood Hint for Healthy Living on the subject of risk-taking. It comes from Disney’s Princess Diaries and is uttered by Princess Mia’s faceless father as he sits with his back to the camera, on the banks of a non-existent river in non-existent Genovia, penning words of wisdom: “Courage is not the absence of fear, but the judgment that something else is more important than fear. The brave may not live forever, but the cautious do not live at all.”
    You can’t hum it but it has a nice ring to it.
    Susan

  6. No worries about continuing the blog. At least for now. I’ve tried, and I can’t seem to help myself. Thanks for the support.

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