Today was one of those days that used to make me cringe when I worked as a meteorologist. Clear and sunny in the morning, but with possible showers moving in by midday. These are the most deceiving days, when I would warn viewers to pack an umbrella…just in case. For some, this is a huge inconvenience. Why would they want to lug around an extra umbrella just in case it was going to rain? While some people are okay if they get a little wet and don’t beat themselves up for not heeding the warning, others want assurance that carrying around that pesky umbrella will be worth the effort. My job, of course, was to please them both.
But for others—like me—lugging around an umbrella gives us a sense of security, a little insurance policy for the “what ifs” that may come about during the day. We don’t even mind if the rain never comes, as long as we know we’re equipped. For me, an umbrella is the sign of the one who is prepared and in control.
I often use planning and structure as one big umbrella—something I keep tucked away in my gigantic carry-all purse, for those moments when I see something coming that might sprinkle a little chaos into my perfectly-coifed life. When the sky gets a little dark, and I feel the wind pick up, I can feel the outline of that umbrella in my bag and I know that even if it does rain, I will have the proper tool to emerge victoriously. My schedule keeps me equipped and gives me the sense that I am on-the-ready for anything that comes my way.
I have always been a planner. From early in my life, I would map out a routine and think through a strategy in order to achieve whatever was on my list. A trained musician, I was conditioned to see the value of practicing just a little bit every day in order to accomplish a goal. In the same way, I now take time each week to plan out my time, fitting in each event with the precision of an engineer, making sure that each episode is contributing to my goal of being a spiritually and physically fit individual, a capable and caring mother and wife, and a woman seeking God’s heart.
So when something comes up that might threaten my well-organized routine, I long to snap open some protection. If only I could open up my umbrella and shield myself from the storm that threatens to rain on my plans, keeping me dry and calm even when the rain comes down.
Somewhere in managing the chaos of my life I forgot how to be okay with the fact that I might have to accept a little wet hair in order to receive the benefits of enjoying the fun-filled moments of spontaneity and blessing that might bring joy I was not planning for nor anticipating…like having a spontaneous cup of coffee with a friend instead of rushing through my errands, or playing catch with my son instead of getting to those weeds. I forget about looking at an interruption as a chance to experience God’s goodness and joy.
Perhaps the rain is actually God’s way of getting my attention, moving softly through the sky just waiting to sprinkle some goodness my way. Maybe that umbrella is actually getting in the way?
Christ calls us to give ourselves to him—fully and completely. Luke writes in chapter 9, “Then he said to them all: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.’”
When Jesus calls us to give up everything to follow after him, he is telling us to give it all up, not because he wants us to be miserable but because it is good for us to live that way. While it is certainly good to plan and to have goals, it is also good to open ourselves up to the wonder that he has planned for our days…to let Him be the guide…to let Him make the plans.
Maybe it’s time to relinquish the white-knuckled hold I have on my schedule. After all, he might have an experience waiting for me that I can hardly cease to imagine. In order to experience it, however, I have to quit blocking out his goodness. I need to feel the drops, the showers, and even the storms.
Perhaps I’ll leave that umbrella at home for awhile and just see what showers life brings my way…or at the very least, I’ll buy one that is clear, so that I can look out at what I might be missing—after all, I relinquish control in baby steps, of course.
The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.