When I was young I remember loving to look at National Geographic magazine. Beautiful pictures of mountains, oceans, forests, desserts, flowers… nature… were mesmerizing. I learned early on that some of the pictures were scary. I’d turn a page and a full-spread close-up of some weird fish with fangs and bug eyes would pop out at me. I hate that feeling! I learned to very slowly turn a page from the bottom corner and peak at it carefully until I was sure it was ‘safe.’ If at any point it looked threatening I just didn’t open it. Sometimes I’d hold the book as far away as possible, peek through one eye and slowly turn the page…always trying to prepare for the scary stuff.
Life can be a lot like National Geographic magazine…pretty scary to turn the pages, to adjust to big changes, to imagine life after losing someone or something. Most of us have lost important people in our life like spouses, parents, children and friends. Many have lost jobs, homes and other important things. What a huge and frightening page to turn! And yet, we must. Because life doesn’t really stop for us…even when it feels as though it should.
It’s been almost 11 years since Budd passed away. There have been a lot pages I didn’t want to turn, but life just keeps going. I’m grateful for God’s kindness and the good life I have. I’ve turned the pages and it didn’t ruin me…it grew me.
I’m selling my house. It’s big for just mom and I now and needs a bit more TLC than I can keep up with. But this is uncharted territory for me:
- My kids were raised in this house
- I know what to expect in terms of taxes and insurance
- I have a way of doing daily life that is shaped by this house
- Its easier to stay
I also feel God’s tug that its time to turn a page. Some days I’m holding the book as far away as I can and peeking through a slit of eyelid as I slowly turn the page. What will I find there?
The Bible is filled with stunning stories of disappointment, loss and page turning:
- Adam and Eve, because of their own failures, had to leave their perfect home for a wasteland. [Genesis 2-3]
- Noah was loving God and raising a family when God suddenly called him to become a zoo-keeping sailor. Oh… and save humanity. [Genesis 6-8]
- Joseph was the favored son who ended up thrown in a hole then sold into slavery by his bros. [Genesis 37 and 39-50 if you want the whole story!]
- David, a young shepherd, was anointed to be king of Israel! Then sent back to his sheep for years. [1 Samuel 16]
- Mary, a young Jewish girl, is told she’s a pregnant virgin but its ok…its God’s child. I wonder what her first thoughts were the morning after she found out… [Luke 1:26-38]
- Paul was passionate about the God of Israel until Jesus knocked him off his donkey. That was a very big and scary page to turn. [Acts 9:1-31]
How do any of these people manage to turn the page that is before them? How do you accept and acclimate to such mystery, loss and drastic change?
The common denominator is God. They all chose to trust that God knew what He was doing. God is neither surprised nor put off by the pages that lie ahead of us, anymore than He is limited by the pages we’ve already turned. God, in Jesus, left his throne and came to walk the dusty paths of the Middle East – to be misunderstood, rejected, tortured and murdered. How does one turn that page? God is good…always…and invites us to trust Him with the next stages and pages of our life.
Turning pages can be very difficult when the future looks bleak to us, or uncertain. Life done on our own wisdom and strength is brutal, but if we believe that God is good and that He already knows our tomorrows, we can confidently turn the next page…even if we only do it a peek at a time. I’ve never been sorry I trusted Him. Ever.
Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.
Psalm 40:5 O Lord my God, you have performed many wonders for us. Your plans for us are too numerous to list. You have no equal. If I tried to recite all your wonderful deeds, I would never come to the end of them.
Isaiah 41:10,13 Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand. 13 For I hold you by your right hand—I, the Lord your God.
And I say to you, ‘Don’t be afraid. I am here to help you.’
“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. 9 For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.