Time Out for Whining

Recently, I had an appointment at my “worldwide ministry headquarters” (Starbucks).
I’d been talking over future ministry plans with an advisor. My friend had been encouraging, but also pointed out some major obstacles to my plans.

So whenever I’m faced with a disappointment, whenever I see the signposts saying “Dead End” and I need to turn around, I do the same thing you probably do.

I complain.

As I asked God why, I did see one clear sign:

“Serenity Walk”

“What the heck is a Serenity Walk?” There was a little parking lot and a pathway wandering off into the woods.

“Great place to get mugged”, I thought.

However, at the moment I really could use some serenity. So I pulled over, got out of my car, and started lumbering down the path to “commune with nature”.  I’m usually fine with nature, until it starts communing back. Some folks like roughing it, but not me.

You call it “camping” – I call it “homelessness”.

As I walk, I notice there’s really nothing here but woods. They pay a guy every week to run his double-wide riding mower through it to keep a path cleared. Other than that, a whole bunch of nothing. Maybe that’s a harsh review, but I suppose it takes a lot more than just trees and an abundance of mosquitoes for me to reach my serenity peek.

Did I mention I probably have malaria now? Thought I’d complain a bit more…

The same pathway that’s boring to some may seem serene to the guy going through a crisis. There are times you’re so stressed, you just want to get away from all the noise. That’s when a lonely walk through a boring patch of woods is a welcomed relief. However, I evidently have a low tolerance for “serene”.

You call it “serenity” – I call it “boredom”.

Right now, I’m not stressed. I’m frustrated with the pace of my progress. Not only in my life, but on this pathway too. Unfortunately, there are no markers to let you know how much farther you have to go. Backtracking now could take just as long as walking through. So you keep on marching through instead of turning back.

Now I’m sweaty and irritated. Parts of my body are sticking together. There are some nice placards along the route, with lots of wonderful information about the plant life found along the path and land mitigation. Just nothing I care anything about. They’re answering questions I’m not asking.

Wow, that’s exactly how God leads us.  He never tells us how much longer we have to go before we reach the goal, just to keep on going. In fact, if He had told us how long/tough/crazy this journey would be, we might not have ever set out on it in the first place.

So He keeps us clueless, sometimes mercifully so. If He told us how desperately hard the journey would be, we’d fall into despair. Instead, He’s mum about the details. We ask, “How much further, Daddy?” He says, “Oh, just a ways more…”  And then He laughs a little to Himself.

I remember all my complaints and questions to God. He’s just like the placards, completely avoiding my “big questions”. God ignores a lot of my questions the same way I ignore some of the dumb things my kids ask. It’s not that I don’t care, I simply know that some of the answers won’t help even if I give them.

“Why am I going through this?” “Why did this have to happen to me?” That’s what Job asked for 40+ chapters, only to get a big “none of your business” from God at the end!

Well, it doesn’t really matter “why” right now – what matters is that you get through it. So stop asking questions as if that’s going to make the path any shorter. No matter the answer, you’re going to have to keep putting one foot in front of the other. When this path is over, then you’ll know it.  Then you can rest.

Sometimes we whine to God thinking He’ll say, “Sorry, what was I thinking? Abracadabra – you’re done!”  We think God’s plan is going to change if we complain enough. It’s not as if He’s your mom at the grocery store, and you’ve managed to badger her into buying the Count Chocula cereal instead of the Wheaties. No, He’s tougher than mom, because He knows just how much you can take.  So He pushes you to that exact point…plus a little bit more.

Well, there’s the end of the path ahead, and I’m wondering what was the point. God didn’t answer any of my questions here. Appears I took time out of my trip home for absolutely nothing.

Hmmm…”time out”. Is that what this was? God gave me a “time out”, taking me on a pointless walk in the woods. I whined, I complained, but He was silent, refusing to respond.

No response except for teaching me about “the path”. He walked me along a winding trail to nowhere, and taught me to just be quiet and keep moving forward.  No epiphanies, no helpful signposts along the way – just sweaty trudging along a “serene” path, never telling me how long the journey would take.

OK, got it. I’m done complaining now. Let’s move forward.

I guess it wasn’t a pointless trip after all. If I ever get frustrated enough in the future, at least now I know a good place to bury the body.


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