Monday, October 1, 2012

Preparing vs. Planning

What's more important, a prepared heart or a planned life? Is it a fair distinction? In the big picture, would I rather have a good plan or a right heart (if I had to choose). Maybe you can have both, maybe they aren't mutually exclusive. In fact, they're not. They could go hand in hand, like good friends. Yet it seems that one usually takes the lead over the other, and I'm not sure this is the way it's supposed to be. In this world where most people aren't very secure, myself included, the quest for security, stability, etc. takes front burner. Hence the plan. The goal. The objective to reach the goal. The data to confirm or falsify the hypothesis. The empirical rule. If security were a given, if it were already attained (and I'm thinking financial and job/career, primarily), then there would be room to think about things like preparing my heart for.... whatever. But honestly, most people value planning over preparing. Planning is measurable, tangible, logical, and necessary. I believe in it. I'm not great at it, mostly because I live in the enchanted world of what if's and could/should be's. This is a very misunderstood place, and it's extremely frustrating to live with someone like this. I actually do plan, whether it's hourly or weekly or yearly. It's just that I don't do it as well as my engineering type friends. We need plans, and we need good planners.

A prepared heart is another matter. To prepare the heart is to invite the eternal into the day, to submit to the God-ordained rhythm and to discover, usually by waiting a little, the path that has been prepared (not that there's just one path for you, but some are better than others, and they might not look right at first, but you still take it because you're trusting that God-ordained rhythm). This is why Sabbath is so good, because it steers you back to submission. You work hard, juggling, cramming, producing, generating, stewarding what you've been given for the week, and then you stop and breath again. You give in to the rest. You light a candle and say, "Life is hard and good. God is for me. True rest is from him, and this chunk of time is a gift from him to me." You let go, and that's the hardest part, because it puts your plans back on the alter, and you stay waiting and listening, trying to enjoy the release that comes from letting go and asking God to drive and direct your way.

I've been asking God to prepare my heart. In six weeks I'll be at a forum with people who actively care for church leaders. I'm hoping for clarity for the 10 10 Ministries vision God has evolved in Robyn and me over the last decade and a half. Part of me wants to just give it back to God and get on with my small life, and the other part wants God to release me fully into it. To bless and encourage and strengthen people who are tattered and broken by providing some space and rest and direction. To help people claim their heart and touch and observe and accept their soul, because it's starving to be touched and noticed and befriended. Because the work they're caught up in is strangling them and their spouse, and their children are adjusting again, creating normalcy out of scarcity.

It seems to require faith, and a lot of it, to lay my plans on God's alter as a way of life. It's one thing to think it, but quite another to do it, to say, at 6:00 in the morning, "Dear Lord, what shall we make of today?" Is their a more counter-cultural prayer than that? And then to actually wait for him, to actually believe that he's got a voice that you can hear somewhere inside, a voice that yearns to be heard and wants to lead me each hour of the day. So it's 6:30 am, and you're still waiting. Is that you, God? Try my anxious thoughts, lead me in the way everlasting. Lead me into the next hour. Sometimes God may lead directly, sometimes zig zag. Sometimes he won't answer until later in the morning, when you've committed to your day, your responsibilities. I guess it doesn't really matter when. The point is that you've laid your heart before him, and I think he's preparing it, whether or not you hear his voice or sense his lead. I'm just questioning whether he wants me to work to exhaustion each day. Sure, sometimes that's just what you've got to do. But as a way of life, I'm not so sure. What I know is that my heart teeters on the thin line of breaking from too much weight, and it needs the affirming touch of Jesus who says it's O.K. to stop the pushing, the generating, the producing, for a while. I give my heart back to him again. Repair it. Prepare it.

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