For Just Such a Time as This

So, my beloveds, you will forgive me if I go off the rails a bit and get a little philosophical with you for this post. It’s just the way I have been feeling these days. Have you ever considered what on earth are we doing here? What is the purpose of life? How do we explain the very reason for our existence? Okay — that’s even too deep for me.

What I have been wrestling with, and musing about lately, has been this whole idea of being in the perfect place at just the right time. I am happy where I am… but wonder if there is more. I know God has a plan, but what do I do about it? What is my role in this big, wide universe? How do I fit?

There is a philosophic consideration out there called the “Anthropic principle” that basically says (and don’t hold me to this as I am neither a cosmos expert, nor philosopher!) that the universe’s fundamental parameters must be absolutely perfect for life to be possible here on Earth for us to survive as human beings. A little closer to the sun, we fry. A little farther, we freeze. A force like gravity, or nuclear push and pull, is one iota off, and we all secretly implode or spontaneously combust or something… which leads many to believe that there must be a Creator out there who designed it that way…

But let’s hone in a little closer to home, shall we? I was reminded this week of many summers ago when we were up enjoying the Kawartha regions, and a particularly fierce summer thunderstorm hit. The ones where the sky turns that evil looking green-grey and the sheets and sheets of rain pour down in curtains of water. Violent lightening had struck an old tree and split the large trunk in two… we only heard the resultant thud as the split branch fell — exactly inches — okay a single inch— away from my brother’s brand new vehicle! A vehicle he had purchased about a day or so before! Was it luck? Was it God’s great providence? Was it simply a co-incidence? We were left amazed that the limb had been split exactly in a spot where the pieces would fall exactly perpendicular to the car, in exactly opposite to the other tree half, etc. etc. etc. Much like the philosophers, we contemplated the “what if’s” of the situation.

photo via Michael Bratton Toledo, Ohio… i.e. NOT our tree…

Perhaps you are like me, and think about the “what if’s”. Or the “what now’s”. Or maybe you spiral down into the even deeper realms of the “oh Phooey’s*” (* insert whatever word you deem appropriate here for your own thoughts) and you call out in desperate prayers to God and ask the hard questions. I got your back on this one. I’m here with you, musing about all that holds the balance of the universe together and the philosophical orbits of what is our place, right now?!

Coincidentally, (or maybe not), our topic for Sunday’s sermon was the providence of God. We were encouraged to seek out the examples in the Bible of how He time and time again provides. My thoughts settled, today, on Esther. A woman (strike one) with a lost identity, caught between a rock and a hard place, searching for answers. Answers that would not only shape the future for her as potential queen, but for an entire nation sentenced to death and annihilation. And then she is prompted: “… who knows if perhaps you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14

Mic drop. Dab. Boo-ya. Whatever current gesture you wanna throw out there. God has you (and me) smack dab in the middle of the pit (or King’s palace as it may be) for some reason. Exactly not too close to get burned up by the sun, and not too far to freeze, but exactly within one part in 10 to the power of 55 as to not be pulled apart by the expansion of the universe! (my apologies to every physics teacher I ever had). It’s not our job to debate it. It’s our job to believe and place our trust in the One who placed us there… for just such a time as this.

Lost Luggage

You will forgive me if you are a traveler and have have experienced this story a hundred times; but I am not, and so I share it from the perspective of a newbie, strained in the dilemma of being a “first timer” and all the fresh perspectives it brings.

I recently traveled from my home province to beautiful Nova Scotia for a short stay in wonderful “Wolfville Valley” as I participated in a conference at Acadia University. Although we are pretty experienced travelers, and I have no fear of flying, this was my first solo trip. The event took on a kind of snowball trajectory and I was not super prepared for it. The hubby booked the tickets for me without my consultations, we were unsure about the small details, and the return trip was still not nailed down until the day before I was to leave. This does not bode well for a slightly neurotic rule follower who likes to plan and have all her ducks in a row before undertaking any new task. These facts notwithstanding, I was looking forward to the conference and some alone time with my thoughts.

I strategically packed only carry on luggage to avoid extra costs, and despite his assurances that everything was fine, I made the hubby print out my boarding pass ahead of time. Old school. My emotions were high (see last weeks mid life crisis post) as I said my goodbyes and plodded on through the security lines. I watched as many scanned their electronic boarding passes via their smartphones with all the confidence of world class, techno savvy travelers. Perhaps I will survive my return flight without a solid piece of paper in hand.

The walk to our departure gate was seemingly endless and I struggled to juggle carry on suitcase, bag and old fashion paper work and itineraries, without losing anything on the moving sidewalks (anyone else have a fear of getting something sucked into the end of those things?!) After a marathon trek to the final boarding gate, I plunked down beside two young moms travelling alone with small children and blessed them both, silently, for taking on that challenge!

The staff eventually called that our flight was quite full and that if anyone would like to check your carry on luggage, they would be happy to pop it on the plane at no extra cost. I knew this might happen, and readily took advantage of the call. The moms also packed off their stroller and small child suitcases. I was sure to ask where exactly should we place them? “Just at the door of the plane — next to the stroller.” Okay. Done.

The short flight was uneventful and the slightly smaller airport made baggage collection easy to find. Colourful boxes and bags poured out and around the carousel, until the only ones left were those of us who had checked our bags at the gate! The young mom got her stroller…but no carry on sized luggage had arrived! Great. No big deal though… make a claim, lots of flights in from the big city today… should have your stuff by this evening… they will deliver to front desk, call when it arrives… okay, okay… I can do this. Happens all the time, I have a number to call, a printed receipt even…

The day goes by. No luggage. The evening goes by. No luggage. I call the toll free number. Not yet. I begin to slightly panic. I will have to sit through lectures with no deodorant! I will not have brushed my teeth. I will have to sleep naked! Oh, The horror!

Anxiety: Being consumed by the uncertainties of the Future. But God says: Let Tomorrow worry about itself!

Eventually my small suitcase arrived in a very reasonable time frame, all things considered. And despite my panic and fear of overwhelming body odor, no one seemed to bat an eye, or flinch a nostril. Life goes on. I survived.

As I sat on the flight home (with my carry on safely stowed above my head in the compartment above!) I marveled and mused about the whole idea of anxiety. Those who fear flying, those who struggle with phobias, those who are crippled by the very definition of the word anxiety: being consumed by the uncertainties of the future. I get it. I often feel it. I easily get overwhelmed with the unknowns, the what ifs, the lack of control.

Realistically, this is the big make up of our anxiety isn’t it? That lack of control. If we can’t fix it and be in charge, then who will? As a Jesus follower, I am squarely confronted with the fact that He is in control. God almighty is the only one who knows the future. Every other world view puts our destinies in our own hands. The end of Matthew 6 reminds us that the future will contain trouble, but it’s not my job to worry about it. Tomorrow will worry about itself. The lilies sleep naked all the time — and are all the more beautiful for it. I’m learning -slowly- to not fret at my lack of control. To try and move on and learn and grow. I even scanned my phone generated boarding pass on the way home! Small steps, my friends, small steps.

Our Urban Garden

When I was in elementary school, we did those career quizzes that predicted what kind of employment path you might choose based on your interests and skills. My number one vocation, three times running, was “farmer”. It never happened. I am a city girl born and raised, although, I’ve had my fair share of farm experiences. Horseback riding, picking berries, we even brought home baby ducks for the weekend after we hatched them at school (my mom was not too pleased either as we didn’t tell her her bathtub was going to be occupied for three days with stinky, mess-making, fuzzy little creatures!) My grandpa was a great gardener too, and I loved following him around his garden. It was always laden with deep red geraniums in hanging pots, an abundance of peas and beans … and I always fell for his trick of tasting the sour grapes from the not- quite-ripe vines that overhung the trellis walkway.

This year, the youngest and I attempted our first “real” urban garden. We have done a few potted tomatoes in the past, but our soil is poor, and we have a lot of shade, so not too much grows in our neck of the woods. This year, since moving our carport, a plot of earth literally opened up for us. We planned early and picked seedlings to start (part of my going greener adventures). It has been fun to watch her get excited about watering and weeding! Sadly, Ontario has had a terrible spring this year… wet and cool for way too long… and then we skipped right into hot and humid summer, so I am pleased that anything grew in our little urban farm experiment! Today, we harvested a bumper crop of mixed lettuce! Complete with a beetle of unknown variety and several creepy, crawly earwigs! Success! Organically grown produce! In the city!

Part of the fun of success is letting my imagination get the better of me… I get carried away with thinking about the next project… beautifully tiered growing boxes of fine veggies, plots of land with free ranging chickens that get tucked into adorable coops at night. Corrals with milk producing goats shoving their annoying little kids back from climbing over the fences. Oh, I could learn how to make goat cheese! Or lavender scented goat milk soap in small, handmade batches!

But alas, my ever patient hubby reminds me to “be satisfied with what you have”. Delight in the joys of what you have — right now. See your current success as a blessing, and not always look for bigger or better. I’m trying. But I crave more. I fight this inner struggle of my dreaming heart — and my practical head. I know I would become overwhelmed with a bigger plot of weeds. I know escaping chickens would drive me crazy, and failed goat’s milk soap would frustrate me (even in tiny batches). But a girl can dream, right?

Am I alone in my struggle to do more? Not likely. Perhaps, this is why Jesus used so many examples of agriculture in His teachings. Sure, it is something the people would be familiar with, but it is also such a growing and changing creature in and of itself. Agriculture — urban or otherwise — requires good growing conditions, fine weather patterns, and a whole lotta hard work! The people of Jesus’ day understood that His parables about soil or mustard seeds are partially dependent on what they did and partially dependent on trusting God for the process.

We have read countless children’s books to our crew about how we can plant seeds and water and give good soil, but only God can grow the seed. Our little plot of land has reminded me of those simple truths. We pray for our family members to be healed, or go to church, or see our faith as something real. We send them books to read and online articles to ponder. We teach our kids Bible truths and send them to Christian summer camps. But only God can grow the seed.

We have one lonely carrot in our urban garden. One. Oh, we planted lots… but only the scraggly top of one, singleton carrot is showing. We have no idea if anything is growing beneath the surface. Perhaps the visiting bunny may finish it off completely before the harvest season. I want and wish it to be fat and plump and delightfully orange… but it may be only a tiny root come the day we finally dig it up. And I will again be reminded, that God is in control, and we need to be patient, and just keep trying again — next year.


Want to see a tour of our little urban garden? Check out our Instagram page @mittonmusingsblog or Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/Mittonmusings/