Tuesday, December 20, 2011
When Life Is A Tornado Ride
One of my favorite films has to be The Wizard of Oz. When I was about six or seven years old, I saw it for the first time. I was dazzled. It seemed like every character one could ever meet was found in the movie. Looking back now, it was then that I began to receive training for the relationships I was to encounter for years to come.
The hallways of my elementary school teamed with Munchkins, and there were always groups of us boys who, because we liked similar things, would gang up together forming our own version of the Lollipop Guild. Glinda, the Good Witch, was my Kindergarten teacher, and I didn’t want to do anything wrong around her. For years to come, any woman who treated me like Glinda owned me. At recess we were harassed and harangued by those terrible flying monkeys, the egomaniacal power brokers of the schoolyard. I’m certain the Cowardly Lion taught High School Spanish class, the Wicked Witch of the West threatened us in English class, and the Tin Man led us courageously through economics and typing. I was friendly with my brothers, partly so we could compare experiences and increase our chances of relational survival. Fortunately, my mother and father were solid and stable as the earth in Kansas.
This was the relational education of my life.
But what I have never known is the spin Dorothy took in the tornado. Remember the scene? Not only was her home drawn up into the whirling danger, but, after catching a fence post with her head, she dreamed about it, too. Double whammy. Not fair.
That part of the movie is really relevant to me now. It’s pretty close to how I would describe my days in the last month or so—tornado alert. I don’t mean to say that things are awful and so am I—it’s really not that way. It’s just that life was pretty much a familiar Kansas-afternoon-easy, when all of sudden the wind came up. With nowhere to escape, up I flew into the spin. How do you get your bearings when you’re inside a cyclone? With lots and lots of both good things and junk flying past, how do you know when to open your arms and receive, and when to throw up your arms and shield your face?
And what’s it like to trust God when you’re spinning about?
While, like Dorothy, I’m still the same, there’s a lot that’s different after the tornado of my mom’s passing. The Spirit has led me to be very involved in how my dad’s life will look and be from this point on. So, while I’m speaking at a camp, at churches and to groups this summer, knowing God and trusting God after the storm feels new. It's different.
Most likely, that’s the point.
It’s comparatively easy to trust God when life is relatively simple and well laid out. When I can grab a calm and restful moment here and a confidence inspiring time with God there, trust comes naturally, easily. I expect Him to meet me with peace and assurance. But when days are dizzy and all that’s in the spin has my attention, what then? Just this: trust is a white-knuckler. Better hold on tightly. Trust seems like a crazy hot air balloon ride with The Wizard, while the Wicked Witch of the West is shrieking and streaking across the sky on her broom. And I’m not as good at trusting God as I once thought I was.
Maybe it’s that my stable life in Colorado hasn’t required of me what the days ahead will, and God, who considers me His workmanship, is bringing me back to essentials as the landscape changes. Trusting Him has always been the fruit of knowing Him, and I suspect that God is assisting me toward more of each. Only this time it means tornado trust.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2-4)
In any case, writing this has helped me remember that my Father is faithful—faithful to me. His opinion of me and what He plans to do is truly astounding.
"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. 2 In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” (John 14:1-3)
(I wrote this three years ago after my mother passed on, which was only three months before my father would follow. Life was a tornado ride. At the passing of a very close friend, I was reminded of this note and thought I'd post it again.)