When My Neck Is Sore and My Feet Are Tired

The whole thing started on a blue piece of construction paper. I was sitting in the lobby of one of my favorite places and furiously scribbling for my next blog post.

I kept getting distracted. Something that has been grabbing at my heart lately kept pulling on me. I would write a sentence, pause and let my mind wander. The next thing I knew I was playing a long and tiring round of “what if?”

Suddenly, I would remember that I was supposed to be focusing.

I leaned my head back against the wall, “Did they look down, God?”

I was thinking about The Wise Men. The ones who had direction, but no details. They knew what they were headed toward, but they didn’t know what it would take to get there. Follow the star and you’ll find the one who will save your life, that’s all they’d really been given.

Did they look down? I wondered if they ever got tired of holding their heads up and looking at that star.

“Did you use it, God?” That was my next question to Him.

“When their heads got tired of looking up and they felt the need to make a plan, to figure out places to rest, to find food. When they stopped trusting and tried to figure it out, did you use it?” 

When trying to figure out the timing of their journey and when they would arrive, did God factor in all the stops along the way? Did he plan for all the moments they’d get in an argument about whose turn it was to feed the camels?

My mind was all over the place and and I was feeling really guilty because I knew that if I had been on that journey, I would have tried to make maps and schedules. 

I would have tried to make sure all our needs were met, the camels were rested and fed, the path was safe, the other guys did their share of helping out.

I wouldn’t have always believed the star was enough. I would have looked away to draw my maps and make my plans. I get so easily distracted because I so desperately want details.

“Do you use it, God?”

Do you use the moments that I think your guidance seems vague and distant? The moments where I’m just stumbling around out in the desert and trying to figure out if I’m actually any closer than I was yesterday?

“I knew the men I had chosen.”

Suddenly, I felt really free. I didn’t feel Him scold me to rip up all my plans and maps. I just felt Him smile and let me in on an ancient little secret. Yes, He uses it. He uses even my distractions, my moments of distrust, the days that I get tired of looking up at the star and complain that my neck is sore and my feet are tired.

Though wise, those men were not perfect and God had always known that. He didn’t choose the The Perfect Men. He chose the worshippers, the ones who were willing to seek Him out, those willing to offer Him something they valued.

And when they left, God made sure He told them which way to go. He gave them a dream, He made sure they heard Him.

He knew the men He had chosen.

The Wise Men weren’t just wise because of their title, or even because they perfectly followed the star. They were ultimately wise because when God needed them to change the path, they were flexible to change their plans, they were ready and listening. They didn’t just trust the star, they trusted the One who put it up there in the first place.

He chose you and He knows you.

Just come, exactly as you are.

With your arms full of maps, schedules, poorly wrapped gifts. Just come. With your holiday frustration, your to-do list, the feelings that the star isn’t enough and that you’d like a few more details. Come, just as you are and bringing whatever you have.

Just come looking for Him. Keep coming, even if you yelled at Balthazar this morning for not brushing the camels.

Keep walking even without all the answers, and know that the proof of your trust is not in your perfection, but in the way you keep coming.

Getting Away

Sometimes, all we really need is to just get away.

We just need to drive up to the mountains with a friend. Sit in a cozy cabin, dunking coffee bags into mugs, while talking about how beautiful life really is. We need to laugh at all the ways we’ve changed in the last year. Sometimes, we need to feel that slight sting of pain that comes with realizing how nothing ever really stays the same.

You’re going to need to learn to embrace the moments of burying your head in the blankets as a friend asks the hard questions about love and about letting go.

While the cabin settles in and braces itself for what feels like a coming storm, just breathe and watch the leaves swirl outside the windows. When you do, I hope you have a moment when you realize that all you needed was just one second of that Still Small Voice. Even though it may not be a booming-voice-from-Heaven experience, that the three hour drive is worth hearing just one sentence that soothes the heart.

One beautiful word is worth all the miles, the money and the mess.

And you know, driving up that mountain is a lot like life. One minute, it’s smooth sailing and the next thing you know, you’re slamming on your breaks face-to-face with the side of a cliff. In that moment, you grab that wheel with both hands, take a deep breath. Go on and take that curve like you own it; ’cause baby, it’s too late to turn back now.

Meet some characters along the way. If you’re like me, you’ll find out some strange things like how “men are deer” and learn some lessons about “patience, patience, patience” and you will love every single second of it.

But don’t be afraid to come back home.

It’s easy to fall in love with the silent and simple life that is hidden in the rust colored leaves. In a place like that, you’re always going to consider just settling in for the long haul and forgetting what’s waiting for you 157 miles away in a town that never lets you forget the past.

You have to remind yourself that you need to come home. 

When you start your journey back, drink in the shades of blue that paint the evening sky and find yourself thinking about tacos and snow and how brave and yet clumsy you’ve spent the last year being.

Stop at the McDonalds that is a faithful staple in all of your past mountain road trips and order chicken nuggets while you cry about the things are far too big for your tiny hands to change.

You need some time to sort out the things you can change and to let go of the things you never could.

Close your eyes and count to one-two-three and say, one curve at a time. 

And when you get home and life kicks you in the gut again (and it will), plant those little feet on some solid ground.

Hold on just a longer, love.

Because hope is going to come again. All the things that make you feel alive and that symphony of laughter that’s being caged by your weary bones is going to return with a fierceness.

You will come home from your weekend in the woods and will look for more answers. You will start wondering how God expects you to keep going when things seem so dry and mundane here at home.

And then He will surprise you with a phone call from a complete stranger on a Tuesday night to let you know that He’s still got a plan.

When He does and hope starts to return, you’ll slowly begin forgetting all the lies you’ve been tangled in. All the voices that told you and all the reasons why can’t ran away with never could. All the ways you thought you failed and all the people you felt you lost will begin to only strengthen you because you’ll know in your core:

It wasn’t all for nothing.

There’s a gift waiting if you’ll just take some time to get away. Maybe you can’t go to the mountains right now. Maybe it will just be a few minutes on your back porch with the sunset. Perhaps you can wake up a few minutes early tomorrow and enjoy some time on your couch, listening for the voice you were made to hear.

Whatever the case and no matter the circumstance, I hope you get some time to get away soon. Because there’s hope hanging from the mundane and routine clouds above your head.

And Hope has got a smile on His face and some words for your heavy heart.