Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Trip prep (or, paraphrasing Oswald Chambers: Don't make a sweet cup bitter)

Some people get ready for a vacation by planning, shopping and packing.

No matter how hard I try to change my ways, my standard approach includes some sort of meltdown as I get stuck in the planning phase. I make lists and try to be methodical and organized, but I seem to run out of time before getting much done. When there wasn't much time to start with, that makes things particularly interesting as departure date nears.

So, here I am again, headed on a grand trip that appears to be so much more sophisticated than I am. I am not complaining. I'm just documenting.

My most important preparation continues to be spiritual. Maybe I need counseling in addition to prayer, but right now, I can't find time for that. (And when I tried counseling in the past, it just seemed to add to the confusion!)

So, I continue to pray and write and express and find my way in trusting God.

In my prayer journal on Aug. 24: Lord, it seemed like You paved the way, because so many things had to fall into place quickly for it to even be possible. And that is my only hope for having confidence that I can do this with grace and graciousness, to Your glory. ... You know I now am second-guessing whether I should have said yes -- or should I have at least attempted to acquiesce to whoever was interested. ... But I guess I'm committed now. I do believe I will see that it is Your will and plan -- even a gift. Please help me know what to do, how to prepare -- and what Your purpose is for me. To Your glory. ... Focus on You. Trust You. Lean not on my own understanding.

Later: Right now I'm thinking the lesson is that just because I could doesn't mean I should have said yes. But the flip side is I would never do anything if I had to feel certain. Either I will learn I can do anything, or I will decide it's time to simplify more and be even more discerning before I say yes.

And then: I prayed from the start and continue to. So, why am I still so full of doubt? Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief. You are the only companion I need. Help me walk humbly with you. Be not afraid. Trust and obey. Believe.

By the end of the day, I wrote to a friend: I think I am terrified, actually. .. I am not nearly a confident enough traveler to be doing this on my own. Why, oh, why did God let me think I could? ... I guess I'll find out!

The odd thing about that is that I traveled alone to Israel and to Jordan years ago, meeting up with groups when I got there. I don't remember this level of anxiety. But the good news is that even while I feel this crazy anxiety, I also feel an excitement, peace and a strong level of faith that God is with me and guiding me and forcing me to stay humble.

Saturday, the 24th, was the meltdown day. Since then, it's just been a frantic pace of trying to stay focused on all I need to do, while not missing work before I leave.

Scriptures and devotional writers have been great help. Following a reading in My Utmost for His Highest on Sunday was this quote from Oswald Chambers: "When you are joyful, be joyful; when you are sad, be sad. If God has given you a sweet cup, don’t make it bitter; and if He has given you a bitter cup, don’t try and make it sweet; take things as they come." (Shade of His Hand)

From Utmost and Chambers on Aug. 26: "With regard to the problem that is pressing in on you right now, are you 'looking unto Jesus' (Hebrews 12:2) and receiving peace from Him? If so, He will be a gracious blessing of peace exhibited in and through you. But if you only try to worry your way out of the problem, you destroy His effectiveness in you, and you deserve whatever you get. ... When a person confers with Jesus Christ, the confusion stops, because there is no confusion in Him. Lay everything out before Him, and when you are faced with difficulty, bereavement, and sorrow, listen to Him say, 'Let not your heart be troubled ...'” (John 14:27).

It still seems somewhat surreal the circumstances under which I will be flying to London to embark on a nine-day cruise to Barcelona. I certainly am not more deserving than other people at work or anywhere in my acquaintance that never get such opportunities. I guess I just happened to be in the right place at the right time. As I've written before, I struggle with feelings of guilt or shame that God continues to allow these blessings into my life -- and I just don't seem to do much with them, at least from my perspective. I am so simple -- except for the complexity of my mind that never stops spinning.

And yet: If God has given you a sweet cup, don’t make it bitter; and if He has given you a bitter cup, don’t try and make it sweet; take things as they come."

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