As I sat with my spiritual director, I began to unpack the ways I was noticing God recently, and as I did, it finally occurred to me, and I actually think I blurted out to her, “The shift, I feel like the shift has finally happened!”
You see, for 10 years now I feel I have been in a season of deep release, of God stripping away one thing after another… a wandering in the wilderness of “this is not what I thought my life would be like.” And can I just tell you it has been agonizing at times, to have one hope after another shattered, one plan after another thrown out the window.
But there is only so much letting go you can do before you feel undone.
And so in the quiet places with God I have often asked him, sometime through tears and sometimes through gritted teeth of anger, “What are you doing?!?! What in the world are you doing to me God?!?!”
So as I sat with my spiritual director recently and began talking about the ways God is doing deep work in me, I told her about these flowers that make their home by my mailbox, these peonies I brought with me from my old house 2 years ago. I thought the summer heat last year had killed them, but to my surprise, it began shooting up green this spring.
At my last house they never actually bloomed. I had them in the shade, too much shade apparently, because even though they would come up green each year, they never showed their blooms.
But this year, this year buds began to form. So I watched with eager interest to see what would unfold.
I thought I knew what color they would be… red. I had bought these peony tubers labeled “red” on clearance one year… I have a hard time passing up plants on clearance. So I was waiting for the red to unfold as bud after bud formed.
These buds, tight balls of green, they began to enlarge and then slowly, they began to show their color. And you know what?! They weren’t red! To my surprise, they were a brilliant magenta, not red at all, that unfolded.
What a surprise!
It wasn’t what I thought it was going to be, but oh. my. goodness, was it gorgeous! It was glorious actually! It took my breath away!
So as I began to share with my spiritual director what I feel God has been doing in me, it hit me! My life, it wasn’t unfolding at all like I thought it should or would, and the truth is, I still don’t know the color or form or shape it will take. I am still in the tight ball of green stage.
But you know what?
I realized I had shifted! I had moved from asking with tears and anger and agony, “God what are you doing?!?” to a place where I was now asking with wonder and awe and anticipation, “God, what are you doing?!?”
Do you hear the difference in tone with which you can ask that question?
One can be said with fists shaking in the air or with tears and agony in the voice. The other can be said with surprise, fascination, excitement.
God, what are you doing? You can say this from two very different perspectives.
As all of this spilled out to my director, it occurred to me, somehow, something in me had shifted. It was as if I had gone from wrestling within myself and with God over all the things that have not gone according to plan, my plan, to suddenly standing next to God, watching the unexpected beauty of these buds, my life, unfold and saying with awe and wonder, “Wow God, look at that! Look at what you are doing?”
I believe the internal wrestling, it is important, it is necessary, for it is in that place of coming face to face with your expectations for your life and the ways they haven’t been met, that you can grieve the loss and finally release them.
And when that release happens, suddenly everything looks different. You are open then to the new, the unexpected, the glorious that God is doing in you and with you and your life that you could have never dreamed up on your own.
Friends, I am no poet, but this poem just came out of me as I have been reflecting on this unfolding God is doing in me, in all of us, even as he unfolds the flowers of the field in all their beauty and splendor, their beauty which can take our breath away.
I offer it to you with the prayer that even as I stood in wonder, watching this unexpected beauty and color unfold next to my mailbox, you might also stand with God in wonder at the unexpected beauty and color and form and shape your life is taking. It’s probably not be what you thought or expected, and it has probably taken you through dark valleys of grief and loss and wilderness places of letting go, because friends, that’s life in this broken and sinful world.
But this is also true friends: This life of yours, God is doing a glorious thing with it, because that’s what our God does… he only does glorious. And it will one day take your breath away.
So watch with him and be amazed…
Watch. Listen. Pay attention.
God, He is unfolding YOU
What form, what shape
will the unfolding take?
What color, what surprise,
what unexpectedness will bloom?
Don’t rush, just be still.
Sit a while with your eyes fixed.
Lean in, keep your ears open.
Feel the anticipation, the wonder.
It is glorious, this miracle we are beholding.
Watch. Listen. Pay attention.
God, He is unfolding YOU.
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.