Like a Headless Chicken

I’m pretty sure they call what I’m about to do here “eisegesis,” which means it may or may not be heretical. I mean, if I thought it was heresy, I wouldn’t write it, but I’ve been wrong before. So read at your own risk:)

I’ve been reading in Matthew, and I love reading about Christ calming the storm. I am so often like the disciples, whom I can imagine running to and fro, bailing water frantically, screaming–freaking out–while in the corner Christ sleeps peacefully. Did they try to wake him before the last moment, when they felt for certain they would surely drown? Or did they resolutely try to handle the situation themselves, torn between the two thoughts of 1. It’s not serious enough yet to disturb the Master and 2. how is He not waking up on His own to help us? Martha comes to mind–her rebuke, I mean, of Jesus’ apparent apathy toward her situation–her question, Lord, don’t you care? Previous to this, Jesus has just preached a long sermon on a mountain somewhere, in which He’s said, among other things, that the Father answers prayer–but do the disciples ask for help? Not until the last minute, when their vain efforts to handle it on their own have failed completely, do they turn to God, who calms the waves and wind He created in the first place.

Hey disciples, I get you. I understand the desire to be able to handle things myself. I want to feel in some small way capable and independent. So I think, God, you can handle the big stuff, but I got this little thing. I can do this myself.

So I try to deal with anxiety, or loneliness, or doubt, or any of a thousand things, without turning to God, and soon I’m running around like a chicken with its head cut off. I’m moving around a lot, worrying, so maybe I appear normal, but there’s kind of a problem. I have no head. I’m not really alive. So that’s pointless.

If I could get into the habit of going to God first with every troublesome thought or situation, I think I’d be happier. I think it pleases God when I admit my dependence on Him; when I celebrate His marvelous capability by acknowledging my pitiful inability to handle even the “small” things.

I want to believe that the Father’s gifts are truly good. I want to live each day with the knowledge of Matthew 6:25-34: that I am called to seek God and His will, and that in that He will satisfy me.

It makes sense that He would know the best thing for me. I agonize about what it is I really want–because it changes daily!–but the Maker of something knows His creation so completely, surely He knows what the creation needs.

It’s sort of like if a character in one of the stories I’ve written came to me and complained about how I’d written them. Whatever they complained about–how they were designed, for example, or when their story ended, or perhaps that they weren’t as integral to the plot as they wished they could be–I think I’d have a response.

It’s just that, as the author, it was my job to write the best story I could–one that communicated what I’d wanted to say–and for that reason I’d placed each character where I did for a purpose. Maybe I’d have patience with the character, since I know the overarching plan of my story, and the character has a limited view, but still, to think that a character isn’t crucial simply because she isn’t the main character of the story is ridiculous. You can look at almost any work of good literature and find at least one “side character” you remember well–maybe even better than you remember the main character.

I’m thinking of two characters like this: the first is Gavroche, from Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables. Tiny character (figuratively and literally), appearing in only three, or maybe four chapters of a massive book of many chapters and many characters. Yet Gavroche is crucial, I think, to the story. [It’s been a while since I’ve read this, so if I’m mistaken about how much Gavroche appears, tell me. And if you know that information, bravo for reading the book. :)]

The other is Samwise Gamgee from Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. I think J.R.R. Tolkien did an especially good job of illustrating the crucial part each character has to play in the telling of a story, but Sam. Holy smokes.

I could talk a long time about how I admire Sam’s persistent hope; his faithfulness as a friend; his stoutheartedness; but what I want to focus on is his role as a secondary character. Frodo is the one who carries the ring and bears the burden, but Frodo could not have gotten far without Sam, and Frodo knows it. If Sam knows how indispensable he is, he doesn’t let on much, doesn’t revel in his own importance. If anything, he delights in serving his friend, and when he finds himself, at one point, carrying the burden on which Middle Earth depends, he isn’t glad to somehow be a more crucial character.

Sam does what’s next.

In one of my classes, we’re reading a book called Culture-Making, by Andy Crouch. This guy, in practically every chapter, tells me the way I’ve been engaging (or not engaging the world) is wrong; that I need to do things differently in order to really make a difference. Reading it has got me anxious all over again, because at the core of who I am, I want to save the world. And I can’t. There’s already a Savior, and my humble, glorious job is to talk about Him and live like I know Him.

A job at which I stink, most of the time. My job isn’t to be the most capable person when something crazy happens and this storm blows in out of nowhere and threatens to sink some kind of metaphorical boat we’re all in. My job is not to be the main character of the Story. My job is to do what’s next, with a willing heart and a soul that rejoices in God’s provision.

It’s a job that can seem awfully daunting when I’m running around, handling things by myself. I can slip into questioning whether God actually cares about what’s going on down here. But it’s when I finally just ask, just plead for His help, that He gets up and speaks quiet into His creation. And then my job is very simple: to stand and marvel.

Thanks for reading! Respond if you want to. Don’t if you don’t:)