A New Son
Like you perhaps, I’m a thinker. Well, maybe I’m more of an over-thinker. In fact, if life is going too fast and I don’t get time to myself to mull over recent events or conversations or shared experiences, where they fit and if and how they have meaning, I start getting grouchy. It’s the meditation that brings home the satisfaction to me. An experience is left hanging until I’ve gathered it up in my thoughts, mulled it over, then laid it, if it begs a place, on an open page of Scripture.
I’ve come to believe there is a divine plan, an orchestration of events, opportunities, and encounters, not only historically and eschatologically regarding the people of God but for each person of God individually. In the blinding ambush of the present, so much that happens in our lives seems random. However, retrospect helps us see those happenings through the lens of order, which may reveal something shocking. Ink splotches start to form edges and the edges start to look like puzzle pieces, and, lo and behold, a handful of them actually fit. It’s far from a comprehensive landscape, but often all it takes for us to hang in there is the merest hint that something means something.
I often think about what I would have missed had my path been one straight line from A to B and B to C, rather than a sharp turn here and a soft veer there. With every curve and corner God was sketching unforeseen triangles between Jesus, me, and a handful of unrelated others. Second only to Scripture, God has used and continues to use key people to shape the phases of my calling. Key, not because they’re superior to others, but because God uses them to unlock something in me that proves crucial or stunningly directional in the next season. Don’t miss the present tense in the phrase continues to use. Callings are organic just like the people God uses to invest in them. To decide at 25 that we know exactly what this thing is supposed to look like is to set ourselves up for failure, faithlessness, and boredom and to miss some of the most meaningful relationships of our lives. Don’t fix your feet in concrete. Keep moving and savor the fellow sojourners God deposits along your path, remembering to look back every now and then. A purposeful glance in the rearview mirror will clearly show how desperately we needed what somebody brought us.
So, what does all this mulling-over have to do with Jesus, Paul, and Timothy? Well, everything. What if Paul had shut down after the falling out with Barnabas? Or, what if he’d decided to keep everything strictly professional and to forgo all things personal? What if he’d bought into staying ahead of the game by withholding his heart? Or what if he’d played “tick tock, the game is locked” and refused to make room in his life for anyone new? Or, what if he’d decided Silas was the only companion he needed? Or—humor me here a moment—what if Silas had gotten all pouty and jealous and Paul had pandered to the codependency?
Read Philippians 2:19-24 carefully. List exactly what Paul would have missed.
What if the next person on your path is meant to become one of the most important people in your entire journey? One of the very dearest? Most influential? What if he or she is the extension of God’s index finger pointing you that way? Here’s the scary part: the biggest obstacle we have to our next relationship may well be our previous relationship. This could be true whether our last relationship proved fabulous and satisfying or disastrous and terrifying. A relationship can either be so good we make no room for another or so bad we refuse to take a second risk. Our last loss can forfeit our next gain. A nightmare can kill our lifelong dream.
Excerpted from Beth Moore, Entrusted: A Study of 2 Timothy © 2016 Lifeway Press. Used by permission.