Bigger and Better

In Young Life we used to organize this scavenger hunt of sorts for high school kids called “Bigger and Better” where we’d give them a penny or paperclip – something small – to start off. Then, in teams, they’d go from house to house and ask if the person at that home had something “bigger and better” than the last item they had. They’d continually exchange what they had for the next greatest thing.

The game would end in a parking lot where each team would be judged by the last item they got. The best kind of bargain shopping, I’d say. Kids would come back with any range of things: pets, computers, cars …you name it (Note: these items were not on loan, they were permanent donations 🙂 ).

[Last year we were grateful to have a local YL crew come by so we could get rid of that treadmill I picked up on the side of the road one day in hopes that my own little Bob Vila could make it work. Given that I’m prone to imbalance even when running on a normal surface, this treadmill (that had a belt about 2 feet wide) wasn’t exactly Sara-proof, fixed or unfixed.]

So that was “Bigger and Better.”

But isn’t this life? For many, at 18 and going off to college–they could care less if they’d make $20K  when they graduate or $80K. Hiking the Appalachian Trail for 6 months sounds way more appealing than working on Wall Street and taking a job that requires suits everyday and seems like selling out. Then, over time, the lifestyle which early 20-somethings disdain as materialistic slowly becomes the way of life they strive for until all of a sudden they find themselves daydreaming about what it would be like to have a master on the first floor instead of alongside the other bedrooms upstairs.

I know this train of thinking well because I have my own proclivity to want bigger and better. I’m not at a zoo standing outside the fence looking at those people who want those things as if they’ve just been imported from Africa. I know these thoughts intimately as they bounce around in my head wanting me to claim them as my own.

This morning, as I was thinking of our ever-growing wait for children, I had the stinging realization that tends to come back when things get quiet – which is more and more often these days – that I somehow got off the beaten path. The clock is full speed ahead for everyone else around me: careers advancing, churches/ministries growing, dreams/visions for life expanding and families exploding. Hmmm…what happened to me? Pretty much every career path I’ve taken has been brought to a screeching halt at one point or another (usually just at the moment I feel like I’m hitting my groove), my family after 7 years is still just at a whopping 2, and I really don’t have much of a plan or vision for my “ministry”.

So, I wrestle.

You know, its not just fluid for me to be o.k. with this state. I wish it was, but my flesh still seems to crave growth, advancement, achievement (even in “good” things), keeping up with the Joneses, even though I might know somewhere in the recesses of my mind that something bigger – in a difference sort of way —  is going on here.

Therefore, I wrestle.

God, what happened to the little power-house who could get double the work done in half the time? What happened to the drive in me that seemed forever sustainable? Where did those dreams go that I had for ministry … then for my career and business … then for family? So, this is where following You has left me, huh?

I’d be flat-out lying to say that I don’t sit in this stew and gripe to God. The person I am today is so very different – both in life and in thought – than I was even just 5 years ago. At times it seems like the second I started to pray “God I want more of you”, it all started to unravel. I remember praying this very prayer for the first time in 2001 and it wasn’t long after that I felt more flat-on-my-face confused, lost, and alone than I have in my life.

Glowing recommendation for a relationship with God, isn’t it?

Except this … and this is what happens after a few hours of wrestling:

Slowly, as it feels like gallons of water have been seeping out of me as I “give away” (for lack of a better word, ‘cause it wasn’t/isn’t really a choice) all the plans I had for my life, there is a trickle – a spring, if you will – dripping in.

This upside-down kingdom that I’ve written about before is taking root inside of my life. Can I actually brag about the fact that as my plans, dreams and aspirations have dwindled (mind you, not totally willingly) I have been getting something that no one can ever take from me? That no hardship, no struggle, no unexpected disaster will ever remove from my life? I think I can, because I just sort of stumbled into this and it really only started because of a naïve prayer I uttered unwittingly years ago and have continued to pray sporadically since. I can brag, because this time it’s not me driving my agenda – it’s Him who is doing it. And what I’m getting? Him. More of Him.

I have spent so many years talking about a God I didn’t know as if He was my closest companion. I’m just starting to realize that I barely know Him. And I mean, barely. As a result, I’m hesitant to even try to put words to the truth of Jesus that is getting wedged in my soul. It’s so real I’m cautious to touch it for fear that I’ll somehow taint the display of it.

I guess I’ll just end with this that I read this morning:

One thing I have desired of the Lord. That will I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple. For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in his pavilion; In the secret place of His tabernacle He shall hide me.”