I was a bit more than fidgety when I was a child. You have no idea how much it pains me to admit this. If I admit it here, then I have to fess up that my darling daughter's inability to sit still might be something she comes by honestly. I could not sit still while watching TV. I climbed up and flipped over the arms of the couch. I lay on my back and tucked my arms under my hips, hefting my legs up high in to the air, stretching my toes to the ceiling. I squirmed and squealed as my mom tried in vain to tame my hair. I sang along to cassettes in my bedroom, danced across the bed, jumped off the edge and rocked out. I wasn't still. Not usually. I was wild.
My inability to be still should make it no surprise that I dreamed big. I didn't want to be ordinary. I didn't want to do something just anyone could do. I wanted to soar in the sky in a fighter plane, blowing bad guys from the sky (btw, I am scared of flying). I wanted to be a spy, but a classy one. The kind that wears pencil skirts and tailored blazers with a blonde peek-a-boo hair style coined by Veronica Lake (as if). I wanted to be a famous artist; an archeologist that climbs into the depths of caves and burial chambers even at the risk of being killed by ancient curses. I wanted to be a missionary that sat in a circle with head hunters wearing necklaces of teeth and bone...wondering how in the world I was going to communicate with them even while worrying about snakes and spiders...and the bowl of mystery food awaiting me to eat.
But I never did sit still. I never waited for God to speak what He wanted me to do. I was always looking for the possibilities, the great big, unattainable adventures that, should I ever actually fall into, would more than likely make me pee my pants.
This is the thing: God does have a great big adventure awaiting me. I know He does. Because over the last decade, I have felt the steady press of His hand on my back, bringing me down out of the clouds, pushing me deep in the dirt and keeping me from making much of any progress in this life. I am stuck. I'm not moving. But even under the press of His hand, I am still fighting, clenched teeth and nails digging desperately at the earth...begging to be released so I can run and catch up with where I wanted to be by the time I was 29. But God doesn't care. He sees something more important, because He is making no move to let me go.
Last week, I read a passage out of Malachi where the people of Judah have been essentially crushed. They try to put a brave face on and tell God, "We've been knocked down, but we will get up, good as new. God gives what would be a snort and answers back, "Just try it and see how far you get. When I knock you down, you stay down." He goes on to tell them that from that viewpoint, and only that viewpoint, will the be able to take a look at how much He loves them and HAS been loving on them all along. It is only when they are able to realize this that they will say, "May God be greater, beyond the borders of Israel!"
God doesn't keep us 'stuck' without good reason. He loves us enough to press us down and keep us from running off, trying to figure out this life on our own; keep us from doing our own thing. He isn't punishing us when He knocks us down and keeps us down. Even though it sometimes hurts. Even though we see others succeeding and doing great things when we can't even seem to make it up to our knees. Even when we can barely breathe around the mud and dirt shoved in our throats...we can still praise the Lord that it is HIS hand pressing us down. If it is HIS hand, then it is out of love, because something beautiful is on the horizon.
Jeremiah 1:18 (MSG) says:
"Stand at attention (or stand still, and in MY case, LAY still) while I prepare you for your work. I'm making you as impregnable as a castle, immovable as a steel post, solid as a concrete block wall. You're a one-man defense system against this culture..."
If you find yourself going nowhere and feeling as if you are not achieving anything, then just stand still a little longer. Let the cool earth that you are being gently pressed in to, rise up over you. Breathe deep and feel the palm of His hand against your back. Open your eyes, and like the people of Judah, see the beauty...the vision...of the work that's shining for you on the horizon. Be encouraged. Rest in Him. BE STILL! Let Him work on you. Let Him prepare you. Grow strong and capable. Find the joy to sing out, "May God be greater!"