I heard someone say it the other day. At times I’ve said it myself.
“I feel like my life is on hold.”
My Dad’s habit is to get up about 4:30 in the morning to read his Bible and pray for people for several hours before the day starts. On March 20 he suffered a massive stroke during his prayer time.
So for the past several weeks I’ve been sitting in different units of Avera McKennan Hospital in Sioux Falls, South Dakota with my Dad. From ICU to Neuro to acute care I’ve watched him get poked and prodded, IV’d and intubated. He can’t swallow. Can’t talk. Can’t walk. His right side is mostly paralyzed. He’s completely aware of what’s going on, recognizing everyone who comes to see him, yet unable to visit with them. Which, to my Dad, is taking away his favorite thing in the whole world; interacting with people.
If my Dad could talk, I’m pretty certain he would say he feels like his life is on hold.
If Dad’s life is on hold, then there’s a whole hospital full of people in the same boat. Like Hilda, across the pod from my Dad in the neuro unit. She had a malignant tumor on her spine. They removed it and for several days she couldn’t move her legs. She’s the wife of Mike, a Hutterite farmer I became friends with over days and nights of visiting in the waiting room. We talk hogs and cattle and crops to give our minds a break from watching our loved ones struggle.
Strokes, heart attacks, paralysis, broken bones, spinal injuries. This entire place is full of people in backless gowns confined to a bed, able to watch but not participate in the flurry of activity around them. My Dad can’t eat. Can’t talk. Can’t walk. I know he feels like his life is on hold.
On the hurried flight to get to my Dad in the hours after his stroke I changed planes in Dallas-Ft. Worth. DFW is one of the busiest airports in the world. They have moving sidewalks there. When you’re on them you can stand still or you can keep walking. It really doesn’t matter. The sidewalk goes forward regardless.
Life is never on hold. It’s like the moving sidewalk. Always going forward regardless of how we feel. That is a simple matter of time and motion. The infinitely more important reason that our lives are never on hold is because our sovereign God has “written all our days down in His book before there was yet one of them” (Psalm 139). Which, to follow the logic, means that if God is sovereign then each day in that book has a purpose.
There is no such thing as “partial sovereignty”. God is either fully in control or has no control at all. Because God is fully in control it means there is no day, no experience that befalls us good or bad that is outside his sovereign plan for our lives. Further, God promises these days written in His book are purposeful. Because “we are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works which He has prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10) God didn’t just block out the calendar of our lives. He filled it with divine tasks and appointments for us to engage in.
When we say “I feel like my life is on hold” what we’re really saying is “My plans are on hold”. Strokes and tumors and layoffs and car wrecks and people walking away can alter our human direction. But as my mentor Jerry Sittser wisely reminded me a few years ago when it appeared my life plans were derailed, “No matter the circumstances, God’s purposes for your life will never be thwarted.”
Whatever event has put your life into a tail spin, remember you’re still on God’s moving sidewalk. Through the chaos and confusion He will take you forward to your appointed destination, accomplishing good works along the way. It’s all written down in the Book.
In God’s plan you’re always moving forward.
Even when you can’t walk.
“The Lord will accomplish all that concerns me.” – Psalm 138:8
Todd A. Thompson – April 10, 2012