Hanging From A Single Thread

23 07 2012

 My Reflections on Chapter 5 – “The Rearview Mirror” – in Love Does by Bob Goff

As I am writing this I am sitting on a lounge chair looking at the lake, under an awning. There is a single thread hanging from it and one grey little aerialist spider. It is about three feet from my head and every little puff of wind sends it sailing my way; which I am none too excited about (previous posts will explain my aversion to all things “spider”). The sun is shining; the breeze is blowing; perfect except for the spider that is fine at a distance, but is concerning me a foot or two from my face.

The spider has had a bit of a rough time of it, missing some legs; but there he is surfing nature’s breath and looking pretty chill.

Now, that’s ironic: a flying insect just came along and clipped his cord. Seriously; just flew straight for it and snipped it which is helpful to me, but not the spider. He’s not dead, just more vulnerable as he limps along, trying to find safety and avoid ridicule by the bug that won the day.

If the spider could have a do-over, would it more carefully calculate its steps? I have no idea where the extra legs went but it obviously didn’t stop the spider from further creeping. Perhaps, if it had taken to heart the lessons from the first incident, it might have stayed closer to home, built an impenetrable web, and remained content with a dark corner of the world; but it didn’t.

So now, I am thinking about how unpleasant circumstances very directly have and will shape my own future. When something outside of my control or choice, something “unfair” happens and after the initial shock of it all, I actually do have options about my next move.

I know I am not the only one who weighs in on how to move forward, because people tell me how adverse situations have either made them safe and serious or free and forward thinking; loving or loathing God. The pain of life makes people stay close to home or sends them on a journey. When one is terribly disappointed, or hurt seemingly beyond repair, we will live like it is the end of things, or realize it is a continuation of our story where God can “unfold something magnificent.”

Still, I will speak for myself: in my grief or impatience, I often get in the way of “magnificent” because I want to feel “better” and have all my limbs intact and often, I just want what was. I want the thing I thought would be perfect. I don’t even think the thing I want is wrong in itself; in fact, whatever I lost or whatever I had hoped for, may have been right in the classical sense; but in a fallen world where the enemy “steals, kills and destroys” he does just that and there I am, miles from where I wanted to be.

Goff writes, “I’ve learned that God sometimes allows us to find ourselves in a place where we want something so bad that we can’t see past it. Sometimes we can’t even see God because of it…” I can completely relate to this. I have so often found myself stuck, and even today, there are things I think about that really don’t have anything to do with today and are all about yesterday. Goff continues, “When we want something that bad, it’s easy to mistake what we truly need for the thing we really want. When this sort of thing happens, and it seems to happen to everyone, I’ve found it’s because what God has for us is obscured from view, just around another bend in the road” (36).

This actually makes no sense to me. Does it to you? I mean how can seasons of agonizing be in any way good? It does not add up in my head, yet God’s mathematics makes allowance for the imbalanced equations that are a part of our lives, to suit a higher purpose. That purpose is usually “obscured from my view” until suddenly something about it makes sense. There are enough times when I find God in the mess of things and He lets me in on what He is doing, that when I don’t know what He is up to, I can assume He is up to something because I have seen it before.

I don’t believe sinful situations are “part of the plan” and something we “had” to go through; but I do believe that God takes those rotten things and doesn’t let the enemy get the win. This is what God’s “love does” for us. While we may still be reeling, ever so faintly we can hear

  • That we can pray for and even forgive our enemies
  • We can forget what is behind us and look ahead
  • We can build a life upon a rock
  • We can be lost and found once more
  • Redemption is a real thing
  • We can have a tiny spark of faith and it will move mountains

Last September my husband and I found ourselves, without warning, in the middle of a painful journey with one of our kids. I can tell you, this caused me pain in every joint of my body as I watched him isolate himself from us and make dangerous decisions. I didn’t want this and I can’t believe God “wanted” this. Yet, over the course of this year, I have experienced the most rich communion with Jesus and He has revealed His love to me over and over again, personally and privately, and publicly through my “brothers and sisters” in Christ and other friends and strangers who were also His voice to me. I watched Jesus make His way into all the dark places, and into my fears where He comforted me. I saw how His hand was always on our precious, beloved son and is still as He does the careful, fine work, of drawing lost sons to Himself.

I haven’t wanted anything I have walked through, yet Goff is right, around the bend of the road there is God again, preparing a table in the presence of enemies. I think He waits there, as our host, hoping we will join him and not sell out; not try to engineer our own solution or “swap the real thing for the image of the real thing” (26). I think, like my companion the spider, God calls us to live in His glorious light and not just find a dark, out-of-the-way corner where we might be safer or suffer in silence.

In the story we are writing, adversity is not the ending, or our lives would be a collection of unfinished lines, a series of wasted stories. Goff writes, “when each of us looks back at all the turns and folds God has allowed us in our lives, I don’t think it looks like a series of folded-over mistakes and do-overs that have shaped our lives. Instead, I think we’ll conclude in the end that maybe we’re all a little like human origami and the more creases we have the better” (37).

In the good and in the crud of things, the only thing that counts is how we finish this sentence: “As for me…”. Joshua in the Old Testament chose to say, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” As for me and how I lead my life and lead those who will choose to walk with me, we will serve the Lord. No compromise. With every “crease” with every snipped thread…that is the one thing we, personally, always have.

So the spider’s plan didn’t work out; an unforeseen disaster. He does not sit on the ground for even a moment, I see. He skitters past, though it takes a while and is not simple and still fraught with danger, finds its vertical and spins a new future. I know it is not that simple, but the principle is there.

— Teresa Klassen



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