There are rules about mixing metaphors, about using more than one to tell a story. In general, I agree with those rules. For example, simultaneously comparing a life experience to baseball, football, and childrearing is bound to result in confusion.
However, this is my story and I have decided to break the rules because honestly I don't know how to tell my story without these metaphors. These are the metaphors that help me understand and make sense of my life.
About a week ago I found out that the School of Ministry at Newbreak would close, and that my job would end. The news wasn't unexpected, but essentially sent me spinning. (What am I going to do? I'm finishing school. I'm interning at State. It will be really hard to find a new job. What if God doesn't take care of us?)
Spinning generally makes me want to hide, shut down, isolate, quit.
After I quit crying, I went home and watched television. We've got a DVR so I had a lot of choices. House Hunters. Moving Up. Law and Order--all three franchises. If I'm watching TV, I'm not thinking about the future, and if I'm not thinking about the future, I'm not crying, and even if I'm not terribly happy, I'm also not sad.
It occurred to me that maybe it would be better to pray, to read the Bible, to write down my feelings, but honestly, I preferred to watch TV.
On Saturday, I emerged from my hiding place, where I was only accessible to my family, and I started to get caught up on my Bible reading.
I picked up where I had left off in the Garden to City plan.
1 Kings 19 - After the event on the mountain, where God totally comes through for Elijah and destroys the prophets of Baal, after the people declare that they will serve the Lord, Ahab and Jezebel vow to assassinate Elijah, and he gets scared and runs.
Elijah knows God's power, but he still freaks out and runs for his life. He has seen God move, raise children from the dead, multiply provisions, create fire. Even after God meets him under the broom tree, feeds him, and gives him strength for a long journey, he still questions God. And he goes to the cave and hides.
I have seen God move. I have seen his power. He has blessed us, provided for us more than once and rescued us from our mistakes multiple times. And I still question his power, his intentions. Will he come through again? Surely not. I don't deserve it.
And so I hide in the cave. Watch TV.
About a year ago Amanda sent me an Evotional from Mark Batterson. Paul is a prisoner on his way to Rome, and his ship encounters a terrible storm. Everyone is petrified, but an angel of the Lord appears to Paul and tells him it's all okay. Everyone will be saved, but they have to stay on the boat. A few sailors decide to take matters into their own hands by getting into the lifeboat, but Paul warns them they will die if they do that. Ultimately, the ship leaders cut the ropes to the lifeboat.
Batterson writes: "If I know anything about human nature I know this: we like backup plans. We all want a lifeboat. But there are moments in life when you have to cut the lines to the lifeboat. And the very thing that seems the riskiest is actually the safest and what seems the safest is actually the riskiest. The thing that could cost your life ends up saving your life and the thing that could save your life ends up costing your life."
The blog spoke to both Amanda and me because both of us have lifeboats we hold on to, backup plans to rescue us, take care of our needs. At the end of the day, though, it is God who saves us. We talked back and forth because we both knew we would need to cut the ropes sooner or later.
I knew then that my job was my lifeboat.
I told her that I wasn't ready to cut my lifeboat. It wasn't time. Apparently it's time now, and the rope is being cut for me. I don't know what will happen next. I don't think I've had an angel of the Lord meet me and tell me not to be afraid. Then again, I'm hiding in the cave and when God asks me why I'm there, I turn up the television a little louder.
Walking on Water
At the women's retreat, Teresa spoke about Peter and the storm and walking on water. About trusting God, looking at Jesus instead of the storms. And then she had us write something on a rock, something that God was asking us to step out of. Or onto. Or something. I don't know exactly. I wasn't listening very well because I knew exactly what God was speaking to me about.
And I so sat in my seat and cried.
Here's where the metaphors get all mixed up.
Getting out of seemingly safe boats and walking on water is hard. What if I sink? After all, walking on water is impossible.
I'm not ready to cut the rope to my lifeboat.
And so I stay close to the cave.
God is good. He loves us. We can trust him. I can trust him. I know these things so why am I scared?
Life is an adventure. (new metaphor without a story) What if I make a mistake? What if God doesn't come through?
The first few verses of Psalm 37 remind me not to fret, to trust God, to commit all my ways to him, to delight in him.
And then verses 23-24 remind me to step out in faith.
"If the Lord delights in a man's way, he makes his steps firm; though he stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand."
I may stumble, I may make mistakes, I may doubt, but if I keep my eyes on the Lord, he will watch over me and hold me up.