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Wednesday
Sep302009

Home, James

One of the things I love most about young children is their complete willingness to trust that I know where we are going. This is most apparent to me when I do not. I buckle us up in the car, trying to follow the scant directions scribbled on an envelope, and they sit cheerfully in the back, never once checking my navigational credentials. I say we are going to the zoo, and they believe me. They do not know, nor have I mentioned that I have never been to this particular zoo and may have trouble finding it. In almost three decades of parenting, I have never yet had a child under the age of 14 ask if I actually knew where I was going. Why is that? If they had been paying attention they would have noticed that we have sometimes been off course a tad. (mostly in the days before GPS) They may, and they do, become impatient with the time involved in getting there. They may complain about the unilateral parental decision that we are even going to, say the dentist. But they never seem to waver in their confidence that I know the way.

This is good practice for life. If a toddler who has not been read his or her rights finds it acceptable to believe that I can actually get them to our destination, then that sets up a possibility for a grown up to believe that his or her Life's Chauffeur will perform as well.

I was talking with a friend recently about what has kept him and his wife together. Theirs has been a rocky ride. They have weathered a tragic death of a family member, financial troubles including bankruptcy, mental imbalances, a work related injury resulting in a lawsuit, a fatal car accident of another family member, caring for an elderly parent in their home, eating disorders, supporting two close friends who died of cancer, unemployment, and alcoholism of close relatives. Yet, in thinking back over the past decades, his feeling of contentment was not diluted by self pity or blame. Rather he had a strong sense that he and his wife were meant to be together.

He reflected about how he had prayed sincerely to the Lord in his late twenties for a loving partner who would share his faith in God, and by a series of miraculous coincidences, met her and began dating long distance. He pieced together for me the sequence of getting his first job, meeting his future wife in one state, becoming reacquainted with her at a wedding reception in another state years later, falling in love, marrying, and recently having one of their adult children relocate to that first place,  befriending the original employer. For him, the seemingly unrelated steps were woven together in an unmistakable pattern, one branded with an assurance that God wanted this marriage to survive. He felt as if God was leading them, and the struggles they had surmounted thus far, overwhelming as they have been at times, still paled in comparison to the Divine Plan.

Once I arranged to meet a friend at a parking lot half way between our houses and trade children. Her son would come to my house to play with mine and my daughter would go to her house to play with hers. She and I both drove an hour to rendezvous at the predetermined time. When we parked, my kids were talking cheerfully in the back when she drove up. My son was shocked.

"Mom! You will not believe who just drove into this same parking lot! Mrs. Cole!"

For him, the coincidence was astounding. For me, it was simply the plan.

Many times couples tell me the story of how they met and fell in love, and they are sometimes dumbfounded by the serendipity of it all.

"We were in the same college class. Can you believe it?"

"We both happened to go on a church retreat, and we started talking."

It is fun to feel as if the course we are following is at least partly random. But it is also sends chills up my spine when I know that it is not.

A friend and I used to love to go to the mall and roll pennies so that they ended up in front of children. They looked down, and WOW! There was a penny! They looked as if the universe had just opened up and blessed them. They marveled at their good fortune and scooped up the penny. We smiled and kept rolling.

Sometimes at Easter my kids have trouble finding the eggs so well nestled in a clump of grass. So I have been known to give hints. Large ones, like standing next to it and pointing my toes. It does not seem to lessen their exuberance when they lay eyes on the bright egg and rush to pick it up. They are just as thrilled with their own prowess as if I had not made it easy.

I notice that sometimes God makes it easy. I may be stalled by indecision, and wondering about how to save the world, and He lands a small child in front of me who is crying.

"Start with this corner of the world," seems to be His suggestion. I pick the little girl up and hug her. He smiles and keeps rolling.

You may wonder sometimes where your life is going, or why the sequence of events seems disjointed. The story is not over. One day you may look back and see that your Driver actually knew all along where you needed to be and when. You may look at your husband of many years, and realize that the path was actually leading somewhere.

You may feel as if the universe has opened up and blessed you.

It has.