Thursday, January 22, 2009

When I'm Thomas

Sometimes I pray for a slap in the face,
Then I beg to be spared 'cause I'm a coward,
I'm a doubting Thomas,
I can't keep my promises,
'Cause I don't know what's safe,
oh me of little faith
-Nickle Creek

On my flight tonight I couldn't get this song out of my head. I'm pretty sure at one point I was still singing it when I pushed the talk button, so anyone listening to Knoxville ATC tonight, yea, that was me you heard singing. Today I found out that I'm taking another pay cut at work, this one was sprung on me real nice. I found out about it when I got my check and it was a couple hundred dollars less than I expected. It was a real good day. I spent a lot of time in the quiet dark of 6,000 ft asking God why. It's a question I've asked him before, but tonight he answered it clearer than I expected. This is the slap in the face I've been asking for. From the minute I started flight school I've been worried about the transition. The problem with flying for a living is that in the beginning you don't usually get paid squat. It's about building time and experience. I was worried that the money I made at my current job would be enough to dampen my passion for flying. I wondered if, when it came down to it, I would be able to walk away from a job that provided so well. I've often prayed that God would ease the transition -make it an easy choice. Well, he just did. He just didn't do it like I expected.

I love the image of Christ as a lion that C.S. Lewis uses in the Narnia books. I've thought and talked a lot about God being good but not safe. And yet when I see him move - when he uses his power and will to direct my life - when walls are torn down and doors opened in front of me - when he moves in response to my prayer - I'm terrified to walk the path he's made. I'm not sure the issue is whether or not God is safe. I don't know what's safe, and I don't think I need to. I need the vision to see the path God has laid in front of me and the guts to walk down it.

Tonight my mind keeps going to the story of Abraham and Isaac. Abraham was called by God to walk a path that seemed impossible. We all know the story, just when things seemed the darkest -when it seemed God was poised to take the thing Abraham loved most - God provided. I know that 2009 is going to be a difficult year. I'm going to be asked to do more with less. I will be stressed and stretched and exhausted, but I am confident that when it's over I'll be able to look back at this place in my life and give it the name Abraham gave the mountain he climbed that day with Isaac: Jehovahjireh - The Lord will provide.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Bury my Heart

Things are starting to fall away. It's been a really long couple of months and I'm starting to feel like I or things in my life are being pruned. Things I used to count on aren't what they used to be. My job and my leg - neither one is as dependable as it used to be. I had begun to think my heart was going with them. Through the difficulty of the last several weeks I've felt surprisingly little. Now, I have a tendency to shut down emotionally sometimes, but this has felt different. I think I know the difference between shutting down and breaking altogether. This felt like the latter until a couple of days ago.

I had the opportunity this week to visit the house I grew up in, my family's home. We moved out about five years ago (about a year after my father died) and I felt like I left a lot of myself in that place, at the time it seemed to difficult to continue to carry it with me. The pieces were right where I left them.

I expected to be overwhelmed by anger and sadness over the loss of my father, I was, but I was also overcome with joy at some of the memories made in that place. I stood by the pool where my best friend and I spent so many summers listening to Billy Joel and pounding Mountain Dews. From the screened porch where I spent so many nights watching the rain I could see the neighborhood court where I learned to really play ball. The kitchen where Steak Night was born and the basement where we all made out all the time. The room where I first kissed my wife and the stair I was sitting on when she told me she loved me. It was all still there. So much of who I am was right there in that house. I was unable to take it with me when I left, but I'm thankful for the opportunity to go back and get it. I I feel burdened in a way I haven't felt in years. I feel heavy, but I feel complete. I know now that my heart still works - and I know why.