I never got into trouble much as a kid. Oh, it’s not that I didn’t do anything bad—I did. I just rarely got busted for it. (I guess it’s the innocent-looking face.) And most of the stupid stuff I did, I didn’t do because I was bad, but because I was bored.
As an adult, it’s not boredom that causes me to get in trouble. It’s pretty rare that I have time to be bored. But very often, it’s the adult equivalent of boredom—lack of purpose—that gets me into trouble. I have walked a tightrope from my painful past to my unclear future for so long that sometimes, I forget how to live in today.
One thing that helps me keep my head in the present is that God often gives me assignments to focus on. For a while, it was my magazine column. For a while, it was daily morning devotions with a girlfriend. At one time, it was preparing for a Sunday school class I was teaching. And then, the summer arrived and I had so many things going on at one time (long hours at work, my sister-in-law’s fight with Cancer, and my Dad’s knee-replacement surgery) that I was overwhelmed. When those all ended at the same time, I found myself adrift and without a purpose. Within a few weeks, I found myself having trouble balancing on my tightrope again–struggling with my past, worrying about my future, and really having trouble living in today.
While I’ve been walking this tightrope, I’ve heard God whispering in my ear: “Keep moving forward. It’s time to move forward.” But I really didn’t understand what that meant. I didn’t really know what direction “forward” was supposed to be. I prayed about it. I laid awake at night thinking about it. I talked about it with some of my closest friends. But the fog remained: which direction was “forward”? And then, in a frustrated moment of a sleepless night recently, I said to myself, “If I’m going to continue, I have GOT to have a purpose!”
I didn’t mean it as a prayer, but evidently, God saw it that way and over the weekend, the fog began to lift and the purposes began to appear clearly in front of me. And suddenly, I knew which direction “forward” was supposed to be.
I think I’ve figured out how to get off the tightrope, though it may take a while. I have to stop living in the past and the future. I need to live in the present truth, in the purpose that God has for me. And when I don’t really know what that is, I should just keep asking. He’s always going to put out a hand to steady me on the rope and help me make it home.