Traveling with the Good Shepherd

2:51 a.m. China time.

I’m still en route to my destination. I must admit my confidence in Benadryl was a little misplaced as it did not help me sleep the way I thought it would. =\ Nonetheless, some sporadic rounds of sleep did come during this flight.

I was thinking about this journey and how even to the last it wasn’t sinking in that I was going. I remarked to my friends the night I left that I was so used to previous trips where I did extensive Internet research, planned an itinerary to the letter, even had tickets in hand for certain legs of the trip. this time, I don’t feel prepared at all.

But I am prepared.

It’s been interesting to reckon with this notion of preparation a bit. Have I gotten so used to preparation looking a certain way? A detailed plan, neatly drawn up spreadsheets, smartly mapped out points on the journey, perfectly packed bags with outfits tripled checked to make sure I didn’t bring too much?

Yes.

It’s a sobering realization.

Whenever it happened along the way, however subtly it came on, this natural planner, who once knew enough of the Supernatural not to plan much, became more and more and more of one. Whether it was years of deadlines and project management or disciplined life schedules expertly crafted to handle full-time work and grad school and an 8-hour sleep requirement or even coming up with play-by-play agendas for “fun days” with friends, I somehow have found myself on the slippery slope of thinking that while “everything” can’t be planned, a whole lot of life is better when most is planned because…

I know what to expect.

I know what’s coming.

I can manage life around my fine plans.

I can anticipate the next step.

What am I? God or something?!

The truth is that the death of a lot of hopes and dreams and expectations along this journey called life has made taking comfort in the planned more and more appealing. You don’t have to risk much when you know exactly what to expect. But the problem is…

It’s a false hope.

It’s a house of cards, blown down by the gentlest of breezes.

It’s a temptation to trust in my ability instead of His ability.

Simply stated: It’s easily made into a false god that takes my eyes off of the great, untameable, holy and good God of all things.

And to boot, I hate it. Hate what? The schedule. The inflexibility. The rut. You name it.

So God, the true and only God, decides to blow down the house of cards. He comes up with the best, wisest plan of action to rescue me from my “planned” wanderings. And I’m so very glad He is saving me from it.

Life isn’t about planning — not that planning is bad, per se. After all, Proverbs over and over reminds us that there is wisdom in planning and that fools are undisciplined. But even the planner can be a fool when it turns out his plans are a cover for thinking “there is no God” in this or that area of life, allowing fear of circumstances or so-called logical understanding or misplaced trust in anything but God to be their master. Strangely, Proverbs warns against that too.

I’m ready to admit that I was beginning to believe that life could get better if I was just more disciplined, just better at working my schedule, if I just tried harder in that one relationship, if I just contented myself with what is currently known. But all my attempts have failed.

Thank God.

I’m calling this cycle of trying quits. I’d much rather have it His way, and I’m finding so would He.

Praise God that He doesn’t let me wander from Him and His good plans for me! He is indeed the Good Shepherd, and I want to know that life He came to bring us in full.

So here I am. New Year. Chinese New Year, even. If that doesn’t make for a good opportunity for a fresh start, I don’t know what does! But the truth is, a fresh start is always available to us because God’s grace is here, waiting for us to turn to Him, His mercies new every morning.

So I come to Him. I’m following His lead. This trip is part of that. And guess what?

It’s not all planned out.

Well, at least not by me. 😉

This past weekend, I ran around like crazy person trying to get things done before I left, literally throwing clothes and things into my backpack just before my friend took me to the airport and he coached me in breathing normally. And I see God’s wise sense of humor and timing in all of this.

“Let go,” He whispers.

“Let Me,” He assures.

“Rest, My daughter. And enjoy…freedom.”

Sigh.

I’m letting that last bit wash over me as I tap out this entry on my phone. I cannot tell you how much God is doing to align me more fully with His plans and purposes this year. He’s calling my name, and it means answering, knowing Him more fully, and being further changed as He sees fit. And in the process, I’m rediscovering that adventurous girl inside of me with all the dreams and vision God’s planted inside, the girl who once said an immediate “yes” to the unexpected that stirred excitement and resonated within me. I think God means to recover her and grow her up even more. And I’m excited to find that I’m being restored as I remain in His presence, further shaped into the woman He’s called me to be and for the Kingdom purposes He wants me to co-labor with Him on.

So here’s to the New Year. Here’s to the Good Shepherd.

Lead me on, Lord. I can’t wait to see where we end up.

2 thoughts on “Traveling with the Good Shepherd

  1. You are indeed prepared 🙂 Great to read your notes and learn what God is teaching you during this season of life and during the beginning of this trip specifically. Thanks for sharing a little bit of your journey with us, look forward to hearing more. You GO “adventurous girl”… enjoy the freedom and live out those dreams and visions for the kingdom!

    Happy new year to you!

    B

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