How I Learned That Shiny And New Is Usually A Trap
We are currently living out of boxes. The moving truck will arrive next week and then we’ll hit the road for our new home in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. I would be nervous except that this will be the seventh city I’ve moved to in the past 10 years. So I’ve been here before.
Nevertheless, New is still exciting. And this means a New city. New job. New people. Heads start tinkering with all the possibilities of New, envisioning a clean break from the former and an opportunity to make right what previously went wrong.
Like, to finally be rid of that viral workplace and your doom and gloom boss. Or your nagging wife. Or your uncool city that’s just too conservative. Or too liberal. And you won’t be able to swoop into the McDonald’s drive thru for a sausage biscuit on the way to work.
These are just examples, but in essence I’m trying to avoid these sorts of thoughts after we unpack our boxes. Imagining life without ___ is foolish if we call ourselves believers of the Bible because it clearly states “all things work together for those who love God” (Romans 8:28). So how dare we say “that doesn’t count. It’s a cancer in my life. So it must go!”
Psalm 23 states the Lord is also our shepherd and we lack nothing, so we should also apply caution when imagining life with ___. Then we may be grabbing the shepherd staff from God and shouting “I’m taking control of this rodeo now.”
There are two types of New: Brand New and Reset. Let’s start with an example of Brand New.
My best friend and I were on a weekend youth group retreat. Of course we were having a blast since we were away from home and there were hundreds of teenage girls all around us. We had also hit a stride at that point as we both seemingly figured out how to let go of our image concerns and just have fun. We were laughing a lot and making others laugh, too. Such as the teenage girls.
But our fun night started to wind down.
“You know, life is pretty good right now,” my friend told me in our dorm room as the night started winding down. “I mean, it’s pretty much ideal. I think the only way it could be any better would be to have, well, a girlfriend.”
I agreed with him and we both nodded off. But his words stayed with me for the coming days. I never really had a girlfriend before. Well, except a girl in sixth grade who’s friend negotiated our relationship status on the playground. We then met one time at the campus pond, but that was the extent of it.
“You know, he’s right,” I thought. “Things are good, but then things would be perfect.”
So, not long after that discussion I found myself a girlfriend. But perfect didn’t just fall right into place. I lacked the maturity and patience required so my emotions were like a shovel to the head and that little relationship crashed and burned after a few short months. And so did the notion that finding a girlfriend would be an easy upgrade. The luster of New quickly faded.
On the other hand, restart is for the person who just needs a new job for life to make more sense. Unfortunately when this person finds a new workplace he usually just put a new sign on the same problem and the cycle continues. The problem was within him all along.
As much as we want “All things work together” in Romans 8:28 to refer to hammocks, Corona and beaches, it likely doesn’t. More times than not it’s the opposite. God knows our hearts and that if we always had it easy we’d kick back in the hammock, and there is plenty of hard work to be done in this fallen world of ours.
That is why when a trial presents itself we mustn’t start by looking for the way out, but for the purpose.
Since we’re moving I am in the process of saying goodbye to my colleagues at my banking job. This is especially tough since we’ve been through the thick of things. There were some periods when the sky was falling and stress was bulging to the point I thought I might burst. Every morning I asked God to release the pressure. But he wouldn’t. He had me right where he wanted me since suffering produces perseverance. So I kept my arms moving in my swim upstream.
It brought intimacy with God. There have been few times in my life I ever prayed harder so he and I became tight in those days. I was on the verge of a shipwreck and God settled the waters just enough for me to keep sailing. Sure enough, the waters eventually calmed and I reached the dry land – a wonderful workplace – and I gained dozens of friends and countless memories.
I had wanted to blame my circumstances for the stresses and problems, but the good news was that the problems were my own. This was good news because that since the problems were inside me, the solutions were, also.
So as we jump into the Budget truck and set sail yet again, I will have full understanding there will be some choppy patches of water. And rather than waving for the coast guard to bail me out I’m going to search for the purpose and set my eyes on dry land.