Tuesday, November 1, 2011

In the Middle of Nowhere

We love the writings of Brennan Manning. In one of our favorite books, Ruthless Trust, he has a chapter entitled "The Geography of Nowhere." Listen to what he says:

The music of what is happening can be heard only in the present moment, right now, right here. Now/here spells nowhere. To be fully present to whoever or whatever is immediately before us is to pitch a tent in the wilderness of Nowhere. It is an act of radical trust - trust that God can be encountered at no other time and in no other place than the present moment. Being fully present in the now is perhaps the premier skill of the spiritual life...To stand stubbornly in Nowhere, rejecting the restlessness that urges us to move on, silencing the voices that entice us into tomorrow...
is an act of unflappable trust in the presence of God...

I can stand stubbornly in lots of things and in lots of places, but standing still and quiet, waiting in the wilderness of Nowhere is hard! This season of waiting has been more challenging for me than any other time in my life. We have completed our home study, filed our I800a, been fingerprinted for the 3rd time, had more papers and forms signed and notarized than I can count, and now we are waiting. We are waiting to be assigned an adjudicator who will review our file and, hopefully, will grant our approval to be able to officially adopt our little S. Once that approval comes, we will take our first trip to Bulgaria. We'll spend a week getting to know her and seeing her orphanage and meeting her caretakers. Then we will come home, only to wait some more. Several more months will pass before we go back to get her! Yes, waiting is hard! It's especially hard when I know that this little girl, who the Lord is birthing in my heart, sits day after day. There is a little piece of my heart halfway around the world, and I want nothing more than to bring her home. 

So, for all of us who are in a season of waiting, how do we embrace Nowhere when there is that tugging to be somewhere else? How do we choose to be fully present in the now? How do we silence those voices that distract us with all that is to come? How do we not give into worry or become overcome with anxiety of what that future will look like? How do we be still and wait?

Brennan Manning describes how little children have a knack for pitching their tent in Nowhere!

They find a way to sidestep time and the ravages of progress. They operate in another zone altogether. Watch a group of children on a playground or out in the woods throwing stones at the top of a chestnut tree to dislodge the sturdiest nuts...Kids would throw stones all day if necessary so that they could take the best chestnut home and soak it in salt water. Time suspended. No hurry. Totally in and with the present moment...Almost all children are born with a natural inclination toward contemplation - towards long, loving looks at the Real...However, their gift starts to wither when we insist, 
"Hurry up; I don't have all day."

I have so much to learn from my little men. I love how they can spend hours at a time building their tree fort or playing on their pirate ship or throwing hickory nuts at the imaginary enemy coming down the road. I love how God made them to be able to live fully in the moment. Maybe this is one of the many reasons Jesus said, "Unless you change and become like little children..." (Matthew 18:3).

So around here, I'm learning how to pitch my tent in this wilderness of Nowhere! Here's what my Nowhere looks like: It looks like piles of dirty laundry. It looks like boys that need baths. It looks like raking leaves only to have more fall. It looks like campfires and smores. It looks like many late nights and early mornings. It definitely still involves praying and asking God to speed up our adoption process. It even involves a daily phone call to the USCIS office. But in all of these things, I want it to look more content, more still, less busy, more at peace, and more enjoying the little moments God gives. I'm learning to be grateful for this day! I'm learning how to be content in whatever circumstances I am in, as Paul says in Phil. 4:11.

 I love how Priscilla Shirer in The Resolution for Women describes contentment: 

It is the faith-filled belief that what God has bestowed now is worthy of gratitude and appreciation, not merely because it is enough but because it is good.

I am making the resolve to be surprisingly satisfied! What better day to make this commitment than on the first day of November. As we begin a month of giving thanks for all the Lord has blessed us with, will you make this resolution with me?

I do solemnly resolve to embrace my current season of life and will maximize my time in it. I will resist the urge to hurry through or circumvent any portion of my journey but will live 
with a spirit of contentment.


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