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Friday, January 9, 2015

Pondering Part 2

I come across a toad enjoying a leisurely hop through the rain. He tries his hardest not to be noticed, but it doesn’t work. I reach down and pick him up, give him a look. By all standards, he is one normal toad. 100% average. Not only that, he has no idea what the answer to my question is. In fact, he doesn’t even seem interested. So I put him down and hops away a little flustered, maybe a bit irritated, but on the whole completely fine if not a little ignorant.

Utterly useless.
At this point I’ve had to refill my pipe with tobacco. I, absent mindedly, my thoughts elsewhere, reload my thinking weapon, and apply the necessary resources to get it going again. After resuscitating my pipe, I decided to ask for an expert opinion.

I sit down on my tailgate and ignore the rain intermittently falling on my head. My Heavenly Father tends to know the answers to these types of questions, so I audibly ask for His help. For Him to weigh in. I’m curious as to what He will say.

I go for another jaunt around the yard, waiting for an answer. All the while mulling over facts and realities to myself aloud. Looking into different possibilities and potential answers. The orange embers from the pipe glow bright as I talk, indicative of the quick talking and thinking I’m doing. It’s as if they seem to respond to how hard I’m thinking about this question. Burning bright and hot.

But I get nowhere. And still indicative of my thought process, my pipe grows dim. The last dregs of tobacco slowly turning to black, lifeless ash.

I wish I could tell you that something inspiring, intelligent, or ground-breaking came from this session. That I found the answer to my question. That God came down, we walked around for a bit, He filled me in on some things, gave me a hug, and ascended back to Heaven. I imagine this would be a very different blog if He did. But, no. He didn’t deem it prudent to hit me with any revelations or insights. However, I think I know why.

Recently he posed his very own question to me. It was simple, yet powerful. Short, yet very deep. He asked, “Do you trust me?”

I suppose there’s nothing that I need to know right now. I don’t deserve to have any sort of revelation into my life. I don’t really need it. I want it, sure. But I want a lot. Don’t we all?

God didn’t give me anything during my pipe-fueled pondering because He had already given me something. He asked me to trust Him. I should’ve been aware enough to realize that it was an answer in it of itself. He’ll let me know when I need to know. He’ll show me when I need to see it. He’ll get me up and lead me when it’s time to go. And if I start in the wrong direction, He’ll let me know. He always has.

The answer is yes, by the way. I do trust Him. Also it seems I was a bit off, this question does have a lot to do with trust. Trust that He’ll direct me where I need to go, sure. But also trust that He’ll tell me when it’s time to move, and when I do move how exactly to do it. Trust seems to be a multi-faceted concept. Not nearly as straightforward as I imagined.

I didn't take this, but you get it. 
I pack away all of my things. Lighters, matches, tobacco, and pipe back in to my black wooden cigar box. Smoke lingers in the carport. It’s been about an hour since I began my thinking. Nothing has changed about the outside. It’s just as dark, rainy, and hazy as it was. The lethargic rain has picked up once again, deciding to give it one more go before the morning comes.

As I walk inside I’m no closer to know the answer to my question. In fact for all my striving, I haven’t budged an inch. No golden answer. But I do walk away more content. Thankful even. I may not know what’s coming, but good ol’ Dad does.

If I can’t find contentment, solace, and even rest in that. Well... Then I won’t find it in anything.

Pondering on,


Seth

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Pondering Part 1

It’s raining. A gentle sort of storm. Something left behind after the furious thunder and lightning from earlier. The rain comes down at its leisure. Not too fast, not too slow. Measured and consistent.

Being that it’s South Mississippi it’s also muggy. Hazy. Not the typical December you’d probably imagine. The kind of night where you feel hot, cold, and clammy all at the same time. Not the typical December for most, no. But for home, it’s exactly what I’d expect.

Nice time to think, eh?
I’m in the carport. I’ve flipped down the tailgate to my truck, preparing. It’s late. Past midnight maybe. Deep, dark night both behind and forward. The rain drips down. Barefoot, I move around the damp carport getting everything ready. Sometimes I have to prepare myself for a good old fashion ponder.

I have many tools I use when I need to think. Sometimes it’s this, my laptop. Sometimes it’s my discus. Talking to people. Fidgeting and twirling a rock I picked up from Botswana in my hands. Kayaking. Recently it has even become running. But tonight I reach for something more sophisticated. My weapon of choice to attack this question in my mind is my South African tobacco pipe. I carefully fill the pipe with my favorite tobacco, 1-Q, which has a sweet burn and aroma. Then I apply the flame to the dried leaves, and bring the pipe to life.

The rain falls harder for a moment. Lightning flashes lazily in the distance. A murmur of thunder every now and again. I take a few puffs on the pipe, adding to the hazy evening with the thick smoke. I watch it dance slowly around the light of the porch lights, intermingling with the rain.

After an indeterminate amount of time, and several more long puffs on the pipe, I finally articulate my question to whomever may be listening.

Where is the line between following your instincts and recognizing denial?

At what point do you keep fighting, trusting, hoping for something? Is it always? Should you never give up? A will of iron that can’t be beat by anything?

But surely at some point you’ll be wrong. Seasons will change. Things will end. So when do you quit fighting and accept the end? Recognize that maybe your instincts are stuck in an infinite loop of denial?

When do you look at something and go charging in? Opening it back up, heading back in, rush forward undeterred? When do you not let circumstances dictate your actions and simply do what you feel needs to be done? But also when do you look at something and know it simply needs to rest? Do you let it float away, no matter how hard it could be? When do you let go, pack up your things, and move?

This question has been tumbling around in my brain lately. Surely there’s a reasonable answer. Something conditional. I suppose put in the simplest terms it would be this, when do you accept defeat?

My wooden thinking tool.
At this point I find myself walking around the front yard. The embers from my wooden thinking tool light my way. A trail of thick, strongly philosophical smoke showing where I’ve already been. The wet concrete is cold to my feet, but I pay it no mind. I simply pace up and down the driveway. Down the sidewalk. Into the cul-de-sac. Every now and again I have to re-light the pipe. I may look sophisticated but I’m still a rookie to the game.

I’ve written a blog about good seasons. And how I had become so possessive in my good seasons of the good things I had that I wasn’t so willing to listen to God as I was to greedily clutch the things He had given me.  I concluded that this was unwise. That trusting Him with all things always is the best course of action. I still conclude that.

The problem with this question isn’t simply about trusting God. It’s more about recognizing what I’m supposed to trust God with. To trust Him as I move forward or trust Him as I relent. It’s that I’m not sure I’m completely deciphering His messages. Or that I might be missing something. Things will often progress in such a way that you have a clear direction. A heading of which way to go after the door has been closed.

My question deals with those times when you might feel that the door had been closed too soon. Too hastily. When you feel that something is worth fighting for. How do you decide what is worth fighting for and what is worth leaving well enough alone? How do you discern what God’s plan is in something when He doesn’t seem to tell you what to do? How do you choose that? How do you choose what you’re supposed to fight for and what you’re not?

This might take two blogs... 

Pondering on, 
Seth