On God's Will and Christmas Lights

“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.” 
-J.R.R. Tolkien, Lord of the Rings

Around Christmas time there is one huge debate in our household--white or colored? Lights, I mean. 

I love white lights, they look clean cut, sharp, put together. To me they say, look here, we've got it all together! My husband loves colored lights, they remind him of his grandfather's home at Christmas. To him they represent the whimsy of life, and I could do without it. 

So this year, like every other year, we had the debate, and for the first time in forever, our dwelling would be lit up with whimsical colored bulbs. Our white lights were out, and Home Depot (and every other store within 20 miles) only had colored lights. 

The night they were put up, my husband proudly displayed his (and our kind friend's) work. I stepped back to survey it and promptly burst into tears. 

Oh and not the good kind, not the aww-it-looks-like-Christmas kind. 

No, these were hot, ugly tears of things not being done my way. 

I've never had colored lights, not even on my house as a child. My mom always though they looked tacky, and so it never occurred to me that there could be any other way. 

After I came to my senses, I started to ask myself why I'd let myself get so upset over (of all things) lights! I mean there are children starving in third world countries and I was crying over lights?!?

Because this deviated from your plan.


That still small voice that I've learned to heed was right, He was right. 

White lights represented a plan, an expectation I had about how my life should look and whimsical colored lights just weren't in it. Which got me thinking about how I run other parts of my life. If not having white lights could throw me off my game so completely, what else could? 

I love to plan. I love strategizing, formulating, putting together instructions. I want nice, neat answers to where my life is headed. 

But the reality is, my version of how I think life should be probably looks vastly different than God's. While white lights are pretty, colored lights might be closer to the truth of how life is---full of whimsy, messy, different than I expected...

There are many plans in a person's mind, but it is the counsel of the LORD which will stand. Proverbs 19:21

I'm starting to sense a theme here lately, and I wonder, is there a perfect will for my life? I've spent so much time planning out my next steps, only to hear God silent on the details, and that's always been frustrating. I want to know where I'm going and why. I want answers. I want a life plan wrapped up in a nice bow and handed to me. 

But then I think of Mary and Joseph wandering their way to Bethlehem or being sent to Egypt to hide. I wonder if God gave Mary advance notice of just how difficult those first few years of their lives as a family would be-- traveling with a toddler, outrunning an angry ruler set on killing their son? 

I think about Abraham and Sarah's journey, of the Israelites whose only clue was a cloud by day, and fire by night, of King David, hiding from Saul, of Joseph in the prison, of Jesus in the desert. 

Maybe God doesn't have a will for my life in the sense that I think about it--no packaged life plan wrapped up in a nice and neat bow. I hear so many people talking about His perfect will for their lives and how, like me, they've asked him to no avail. And I think it's because there isn't one, outside of Him. And like any relationship,  it's a journey, not a destination. 

God's perfect will for our lives is to be in relationship with Him, and knowing His plan is a by-product of that intimacy. 

Moses had to stay close to God's presence to know their next move. There was no five-year plan, no road signs in the desert, just intimacy with Him. And the same goes for us, I'm sure. He does not have a perfect will for our lives outside of relationship with Him. 

Whatever we do out there, beyond His love, we do on our own. 

Maybe you're like me (although I hope you've never cried over Christmas lights)--you've asked Him for next steps and He's seemed silent. If this is you, maybe it's for a different strategy. 

Maybe instead of talking about that job that you want to take, He wants to tell you about your giftings, or how precious you are to Him. Instead of talking about what college to go to, perhaps He wants to teach you about being a son or daughter. Instead of talking about the house you want, or the career path you're on a trajectory for, maybe He wants to talk about the orphan inside of you who is striving and trying in your own strength. 

God's perfect will, will always be a by product of intimacy with him, because His perfect will is for you to be deeply, wholly connected to Him. 

This morning, as night fades and the sun rises, I turn on our whimsical colored lights and sigh. They certainly weren't part of my plan, but they're here, and in the twilight they twinkle hope, and remind me that having a plan was never the point anyway. 

I think I might be okay with them after all. 


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