“Stop trying to protect, to rescue, to judge, to manage the lives around you . . . remember that the lives of others are not your business. They are their business. They are God’s business . . . even your own life is not your business. It also is God’s business. Leave it to God. It is an astonishing thought. It can become a life-transforming thought . . . unclench the fists of your spirit and take it easy . . . What deadens us most to God’s presence within us, I think, is the inner dialogue that we are continuously engaged in with ourselves, the endless chatter of human thought. I suspect that there is nothing more crucial to true spiritual comfort . . . than being able from time to time to stop that chatter . . . ”
Last week the middle boy went to camp. The first time he has been away from us that long…five nights.
We immediately felt his absence when we drove away from the camp, leaving him in a cabin of rowdy boys and wondering what the week would hold.
I remember going to camp, I remember that uncertain feeling and also the excitement. The meals, the laughter, the games. The deep emotional talks. What would his experience be?
The difference between when I went to camp and now is this: constant updates.
We watched the camp’s FaceBook page and Instagram religiously. They posted hundreds of pictures. Daily. 998 pictures by the end.
We saw our boy in 18 pictures. He is actually in 28 by the end…but that includes the cabin group photos and things from the last day.
He is smiling in exactly 4.
Mostly he is standing with his arms folded and that look of concern. Instantly identifiable, and instantly bringing back all those moments I felt insecure in group situations. You know, like last month or last year or thirty years ago. We all know that feeling.
The husband and I were praying fervently. Speculating. Wondering if we should text and ask the youth leader if he was okay. Hoping for a picture of him with his arm around a buddy. Finally, the last night I had a headache and came downstairs at 1am. New pictures were loaded and there was one with him arms around his cabin mates at the worship time.
Thank you, Lord. He is not alone, he is not completely miserable.
I did text the youth leader who told me the boy had been quiet, but didn’t seem upset. Quiet is unusual for this one.
So, we continued to speculate. The brothers were pretty convinced along with us that the week had been a let down. We all wondered what we would hear when we went to pick him up.
Can you guess?
Yep, he had a great time. Not phenomenal, and there were moments of homesickness…but he wants to go back next year. I showed him the pictures and he laughed. He kept pointing out pictures of laughter and group activities where he was just out of the frame. We just couldn’t quite see the whole picture. Our vision was narrowed and limited and we ran with only what we could see.
We fervently wanted to protect and manage his life. We prayed, but we prayed with advice to God. We chattered continually about the situation, and our chatter went along the lines of all the things that could be wrong.
Did you read the quotation from Buechner above? Here, I’ll post it again:
We have to remember that God sees the whole picture. He knows the whole story, and we can trust that. Our vision is limited, and it is not good to make continual judgments based on limited understanding.
Even of our own lives.
So, stop the chatter for awhile today. Stop running and questioning and determining the hundred outcomes you think will happen.
Be still and know that He is God.
It takes some time, it takes practice…discipline. Still ourselves and quiet our chatter. Realize the astonishing thought that our lives are God’s business. There is rest in that thought.