When I’m nervous and meet new people, I tend to read them my resume.
Not literally, I don’t carry it around with me, but I usually find a way to rattle off interesting tidbits about myself.
I did this recently at the Orange Conference. When I went to the blogger lounge I felt kind of insecure and didn’t know what to do. Everyone had their laptop and business cards all over the tables and I had neither. I immediately thought, “Oh yeah, bloggers are supposed to carry laptops not Moleskine notebooks. I’m so dumb.” After a few minutes of standing there like someone that’s eating alone and has forgotten to bring the “don’t feel pity for me I’m reading a book” book, I walked to the Land of a Thousand Hills coffee stand.
I asked if my friend was working at the stand that day and the guys behind the counter said no and then kind of said in a kind way, “And you are?”
I immediately started blabbering about how I had a blog and I once told thousands of people about their coffee and it’s read in all these countries and I’m a special person and look at all my accomplishments, me, me, me, resume, resume, resume. Even as the words were coming out of my mouth I wanted to grab them back, but I couldn’t.
And I find myself doing this more lately as I struggle with the impatience of wanting to be an author and a speaker. The Stuff Christians Like book will come out in March 2010 and I’m speaking at a bunch of conferences this fall so I completely get the foolishness of this thought but it’s still there. It’s a completely dumb thought to have but usually in life it’s not the wise thoughts we have that do the most damage. It’s the dumb ones.
When I pray, when me and God wrestle, there’s a part of me that keeps saying, “How come I only get to spend such a fraction of my day on Stuff Christians Like? How come I feel like I’m bursting with ideas and I’m only getting to write about them an hour a day? How come I’m not a super fantastical mister important Christian writer person right this second God?”
In the midst of those questions, in the midst of being wildly impatient and selfish and arrogant and a million other words that mean “whack,” I feel like God reminded me of a simple question,
“Why do you keep refusing the gift of the desert road?”
That’s kind of a weird question, but it comes out of some verses I’ve written about before. In Exodus 13: 17-18, as the Israelites are leaving Egypt, the Bible says:
When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, “If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea. The Israelites went up out of Egypt armed for battle.
I love the simplicity of that. God knew that if the Israelites took the short way, if they took what probably seemed like the logical route, they’d face a war they weren’t ready for and would probably willingly return to slavery. So out of love, out a deep, big love for His people, he took them on the desert road.
As an Israelite, having spent decades doing hardcore physical labor and leading the kind of manual labor lifestyle that puts the P90X exercise program to shame, you’d have to be thinking, “What? I’m armed for battle! The desert road? Seriously? Look at this sword, I’ve got skillz! Let’s take the short way and give the Philistines two tickets to the gun show. Hey, I just compared my biceps to a weapon that is still centuries away from being invented, that’s odd.”
OK, maybe they wouldn’t have thought that last sentence, but I promise that they probably felt a little confused at why they were on the desert road and maybe at some point in your own life, you’ve felt that way too. Maybe you’ve felt ready for something and for some reason instead found yourself taking the long way around.
I don’t know what your “thing” is.
Maybe you want to fall in love and get married.
Maybe you’re at a job that doesn’t use your God-given talents and you feel desperate to get out.
Maybe you want to start a ministry.
Maybe you don’t know what your thing is, but you know it’s not what you’re doing right now.
Maybe you want to have kids.
Maybe you want to head out to the mission field overseas.
Your thing, your dream or goal or vision could be a million different things, and when it doesn’t happen, when it takes longer than we want, it’s so easy to get frustrated. To get disappointed, to think that the time delay is because maybe you’re not doing something right. Maybe God is mad at you. Maybe if you were a better Christian things would be happening faster and you wouldn’t be on a desert road.
But what if that’s not right?
What if God loves you too much to send you to war? What if He loves you too much to throw you into situations you’re not ready for?
What if that desert road is a gift?
I still struggle with the desert road concept. I’m not “done” with that idea. But my hope for you and my hope for me is that the next time I find myself on one I’ll pause long enough to ask God this simple question:
“I’m on a desert road, what war are you protecting me from right now because you love me so much?”