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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

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