We’ve all heard that really life is what you make of it. It’s the idea that even despite our circumstances (good or bad) somehow we are in charge of our destiny. And while I understand the sentiment, those thoughts are often misguided when it comes to our autonomy and free will and God’s sovereignty. But when circumstances get tough, usually the questions and trite quotes come. People falling into the proverbial ditches on either side of this road of life.
Now navigating this road is most certainly difficult and we all fall into the ditches on either side often, but I think the tension of the good news of the Gospel can hold us in the middle. We most certainly can trust that God is good, is sovereign over all, has a perfect plan and allows us to respond to that plan. We don’t want to fall into the ditch of fatalism or on the other side, the power of positive thinking.
We have definitely felt the tension of trying to walk this road faithfully. We most certainly have had our questions, fears and struggles that could land us in the ditches. But I think the overall lesson we are learning is not to walk the road God has laid out for us continually seeking easy answers, trying to fulfill our wants or desires or to simply get to the destination as quickly as possible… but rather to find joy in the journey.
Now make no mistake, finding joy in the journey is not an attempt to minimize the challenges and difficulties that await many (if not all of us) on our journeys. Even for us there have been some really difficult moments (like Cole’s night trying to sleep last night) or just facing the unknown future… but when we are able to take our eyes off our struggles and focus them on the destination we are able to find joy in this journey. We are called in Proverbs 3:5-6 to, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”
When we keep our eyes, focus and priority on Christ, we are promised to stay on the path. We aren’t promised that we will have an easy path, but that we can stay on it. That we will be gripped by His great love for us and we can even enjoy the path!
Cole has found joy in this journey. A joy that has frankly surprised Brooke and I. His physical confinement hasn’t in any way confined his spirit. We continue to be amazed at his progress and his joy despite his circumstances. Somehow, his little five year old heart and spirit has been able to say echo Paul’s sentiments in Philippians 4:11-13…
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
I’m not sure how much Cole is able to frame out spiritually… probably not all that much at five. But through our conversation, time in God’s Word, prayers as a family and those praying for him all over the US – I really think he understands a bit more than I realize.
Now don’t get me wrong, he is ready for this part of his journey to be over for sure. In fact, he was practicing his writing the other day and decided to write a note. In case you can’t read it, it says, “I hope I can get my cast off soon, Cole” And so do we! In fact, this week we will find out how much longer he has to go in his body armor! We will overnight an x-ray up to Birmingham and anxiously wait for Dr. Killian to read the image and give us the green light to come to Birmingham (or to wait longer… up to two more weeks). We are obviously praying for the earlier option!
Whenever the cast comes off, we still have a journey ahead of us and so does Cole. But my hope and prayer is that by God’s grace we can faithfully walk this road without falling into the ditches… and in doing so, find joy in the journey!