A couple of weeks ago, my wife and I traveled to Chicago for the weekend, and as we were flying back, we had the most perfect, clear day. You know how you always end up above the clouds and look out the window to see nothing but fluffy pillows? Well today wasn’t one of those days. You could see all the way to the ground, which was really cool. Flying over the Midwest, you saw farm after farm with a few towns sprinkled in. Square after square of land plotted out by someone years and years ago. Roads paved (and some unpaved) defining where one man’s land ended and another’s began.
Then out of nowhere, the brown squares were interrupted. It was an incredible deep green that first broke up the monotony only to be followed by a curving, meandering river. In the middle of right angle after right angle, this river followed its own path that jaunted through the structured landscape. But we know better than to say it followed its own path. God picked that path. God drew that path and made it so.
And that thought made me realize that at one point, the whole landscape probably looked a little more like those few hundred yards around the river than the squared off plots of land that we’ve created over the years. What God created was curved and meandered and took its own path, but what man created was structured, ordered and defined. The plots were organized and amongst that sea of squares, the river and its abounding fauna looked like chaos.
But it made me wonder. How often do I do exactly that to my own life? Where am I trying to organize the chaos? When am I trying to make things straight, orderly and understandable? The answer is probably everywhere. Because I like order. I like to have definition, rules, a plan, a clear plot for where and how my life will operate.
But as I looked down from 30,000 feet and took in the scene below, I noticed the stark contrast in the farm land vs. the area surrounding the river. The river was green and lush and dense. The river was an oasis. Now, I know those farms will be just as green as crops begin to sprout, but I think God flew me over the brown farms in May for me to notice the difference. The river, the chaos, the wandering, the thing created by God was flourishing. The river was where life abounded.
And it’s like God was telling me in that moment, “See what happens when you follow my twists and turns.”
You know, we like to say cute phrases like “Trust His plan” and remind ourselves of Scriptures that say “I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord.” But I think those are too often just nice things to say and remind ourselves of. Do we actually take those to heart? Yeah, it’s nice to say that when things are going great, but when you get thrown a sharp curve, is it easy to believe that? Is it easy to believe that not only is there a plan in the meanders?
And honestly to take that even a step further, what if the twists and turns are the plan?
What if God is taking you on a path of curves? What if that’s always been and always will be God’s plan for you and I?
But twists and turns immediately elicit a negative reaction. I’m immediately averse to the idea of living a life of twists and turns because I so quickly assume it means chaos and negativity. But look down again. Look and see that’s not the case. Hugging the meander is an oasis filled with good, lush greenery. Right up next to the banks, as close as you can get is the real abundance. That’s where it’s cool and refreshing on a 85º day like it was that day in May. The meanders are unpredictable, but the river flows just the same. So why don’t we embrace that the same way? Why don’t we realize that God’s going to take us on a journey and ultimately get us to somewhere beautiful? And if we’d learn to trust that when it feels like our life is turning left instead of following a nice straight line like we planned, we’d trust in those meanders. We’d trust those were created by God for us. And we’d realize that instead of trying to swim against the current, we can trust that God’s got a path for us. A unique path for each of us.
So the next time I start to feel like I’m losing control and not keeping my life on the nice straight path I have envisioned for it, I want to remember that river. That river that was created to break up the monotony of straight lines and right angles. That beautiful wandering river surrounded by life. And remembering that when I can trust God in each twist and turn, I’ll find my life looks a lot more like that oasis.