A few weeks ago, after leaving from volunteering in Virgina on a Wednesday, I had what started off as a very typical, but became a pretty surreal Metro experience. You see, I was making my way home in an attempt to get on a conference call by 9:30pm on a route that normally takes me about an hour. I made it to the Metro station by 8:40pm and had figured out that if I was on a train by 8:45, I’d have just enough time to wait the normal 15-20 minutes at my transfer stop and still make it home to Maryland by 9:30.
I was cool, calm, and collected in this knowledge. In fact, my confidence in this plan working out only grew when I noticed the Metro sign saying that the next train was just 3 minutes away.
“Perfect,” I thought. “Everything is going according to my plan.”
Ten minutes later when the train was still “3 minutes” away, I started to panic. There was no way I was going to make it home by 9:30 now, I figured. And so, as is typical of me, I began to try to figure out another plan.
Should I text someone to say I was running late but would hopefully be home by 9:45? But then what if the train took another 20 minutes and I didn’t make that time either? Maybe I should postpone the call to 10pm to give myself some leeway? Or better yet, was it better to cancel the call and save it for another day when I wasn’t rushing to get home and didn’t have to try to convince folks to get on a conference call at 10pm? But then Wednesday had been the best day for everyone to speak and finalize details, so moving the call to another day might then jeopardize the final plans… And why had I cut it so close in the first place?
All of these thoughts ran through my head at lightening speed. I mean, I was in pure panic mode, y’all.
And then I heard a soft, yet stern voice say “Stop.”
“Put your phone down, and trust that you will get home by 9:30.”
Obviously, this made no sense to me. I could clearly see the time was steady ticking away, and yet what I absolutely could not see was the damn train. Stubborn, I fought against this voice. “You don’t understand,” I thought. “I just don’t see how that’s possible. I’m not going to make it, so I need to make the appropriate plans in response to that!”
“Just trust me,” is all I got back.
After a bit more hemming and hawing, I finally did. I put my phone away and said, “Okay God. I trust you,” and immediately saw the train (that still said it was 3 minutes away) ride up to my platform. Right after I finally submitted.
You know what else happened? When I got to my transfer stop — the one that I normally have to wait 15 to 20 minutes at — I only had to wait two. And lo and behold, I made it home at 9:29pm.
Now, this story may seem frivolous, but it was one of many events that have shown me over the past month or so that I still had plenty of work to do in my faith walk.
Remember when I wrote this blog post about leaping? Well guess what — surprise, surprise — I haven’t really been living like that. Not in the truest sense. What I’d been doing (and what the Metro incident showed me very clearly) is believing in something until an obstacle came up and then falling right back into the pattern of planning for things not to work out.
That’s a lot of things, but one thing it isn’t is faith.
That next Sunday, two sermons (one from my church and one from a friend’s church) drove the point home even further. Both sermons touched on the Biblical story of when Joshua, Caleb, and others went to go see what the promised land looked like. The other witnesses came back speaking about the giants they saw and spoke fear into the hearts of the other Israelites, while Joshua and Caleb essentially said “Yea we saw the giants, but we know what God said, and we’re focusing on that.” (That’s me paraphrasing, clearly.)
The two key points that hit home for me from my church’s sermon were that 1) It’s not about what you think you can see. It’s about what God has told you. Focus on that; and 2) Spiritual confirmation is not just the opportunity, but it’s also the opposition — because if you can do it by yourself, you wouldn’t have to trust God for it to happen. Those two points hit home for me especially because I realized I’d been living my life just like those other witnesses, believing and then allowing what I saw (or couldn’t see) to stop my belief. Still allowing my fears to stop me from leaping. I’d even found myself saying (as I did in the Metro incident) “but I don’t see it!”
When I read my friend’s notes, I almost broke down. “You can’t leap and stand still at the same time, just as you can’t believe and be afraid at the same time.” That hit me to my core. Have you ever tried leaping and standing still at the same time? You physically can’t do it. Just as you can’t believe and practice faith while worrying and fearing and planning for things not to work out.
And I’d been actively failing while trying to do both.
Working on my book and saying “I just need one yes,” to everyone I talked to about it, but deeply and sincerely fearing that no one would really want it.
Fighting the pull to move to another city because of what could go wrong if I did.
Being hopeful about a particular relationship, but not really trusting that it would work for us.
That was me a month ago. Trying to leap and stand still at the same time.
Now, I’m trying something different. I’m much more hopeful. I’m less stressed. I’m just simply believing. And while I’m still a work in progress, I find that I’m focusing less and less on those giants. And I’m finally, finally (!) really taking those leaps.