Direct Line to Heaven

Red Crown and Telephone

Originally uploaded by jakevol2

“If there was a formula to fix life, Jesus would have told us what it was.” —Donald Miller, in Searching for God Knows What

I ran across this quote yesterday while blog surfing, and it stopped me cold in my tracks. Isn’t that what I do? I thought. Every time I’m dissatisfied with myself, spiritually or personally, don’t I go looking for a formula for life? A sure-fire way to find peace, to raise my kids, to be a good wife, to be sure I’m doing what I’m supposed to do? Whenever I pray for guidance, am I not really asking for a phone line to Heaven and a voice at the other end with an answer that leaves no room for doubt? Or at least a burning bush, with a voice telling me to take my shoes off, and other clear, step-by-step instructions.

If only it was so easy.

Oh, God talks to me. It just doesn’t look like it did to Abraham or Moses. God feeds me the answers to my questions one tiny nugget at a time, allowing each piece to settle in, to mold itself with its surroundings until the edges blur and disappear, until it becomes part of me. I can’t say it any better than Donald Miller again, to whose beautiful words Leslie introduced me yesterday:

I know there are people who have actually gone from misery to happiness, but they didn’t do it by walking through three steps; they did it because they had a certain set of parents and heard a certain song and knew somebody who had a certain experience and saw some movie, read some book, had something happen to them like a car wreck or a trip to Seattle. Then they called on God, and a week later read something in a magazine or met a girl in Wichita, and when all this happened they had an epiphany, and somebody may have helped them fulfill what this epiphany made them feel, and several years later they rationalized this mystic experience with three steps, then they told the three steps to us in a book. I’m not saying they weren’t trying to be helpful; I bring this up only because life is complex, and the idea that you can break it down or fix it in a few steps is rather silly.

The truth is there are a million steps, and we don’t even know what the steps are, and worse, at any given moment we may not be willing or even able to take them; and still worse, they are different for you and me and they are always changing.

But you know what? I don’t think that’s “worse” at all. I think it’s beautiful. Because it means that every moment of my life–every sunset, every sunrise, every person I encounter, is a little note from God waiting to be read. It means that God is all around me at every moment, part and parcel of all the good and bad and ordinary moments of my day. It means that He trusts me to pay attention, to be smart enough to put it all together. And that is good news indeed.