I'm not sure why, but airlines (or maybe it's the airports) like to schedule international flights to arrive at about the same time. It's inevitable: Every time we travel through Lima or Miami, the immigration line contains at least three flights' worth of travelers, and the waiting areas are packed with people who appear to be settled in for a long wait, somehow lounging with a body part draped over every possible piece of luggage.
In Lima, this waiting area is the food court. The area is quite large and houses plenty of seating for half a dozen eateries the ring the dining section. It's Peru, so there is no order to the round tables and lightweight chairs that end up strewn haphazardly, first grouped to a single table with extra occupants, then shoved aside to make room for a luggage cart to skim through.
I often have to walk my young daughters through the chaos to access the bathrooms that are located farther down the hallway. I often do that parent thing where you grab a small child's hand and pull them in right behind you so that they have a clear path to follow directly in your footsteps, while you can still snatch them to either side to avoid a collision if necessary. In this scenario, I take responsibility for seeing our table and navigating the crowd and furniture to get my kids there safely. They cannot see where we are going, but they trust that I will get them there, even if I am pulling them hither and yon in the process. They know to stick with me.
It struck me as this happened yet again just recently that I am sometimes not a very good daughter. I know cognitively that God does this same thing with me, leading me where I cannot see, sometimes jostling me in order to protect me, but I struggle so very deeply with trusting. I figure that if I'm responsible for much in my life, I can just take the reins on the rest and give Him a break. After all, He has plenty of other stuff to deal with, right? I don't want to be a burden. It's one thing to just live that way and never think about it, not really.
It's another thing to realize just what I am doing, and I am saddened by how weak I want Him to be. I don't want Him to take control of my life. I don't really want Him to lead me to big, scary things. I don't really want Him to change me in ways that might hurt, might break down the things I value in myself. I don't really want to experience things that stretch me beyond the point where I can still make it all look good. I prefer to stand still in the bustling crowd and pretend that's where I really wanted to be all along, even as He stands beside me, holding out His hand to lead me toward better things, patiently waiting for me to want that, too.
My daughters have learned to trust me more than I have learned to trust God. The only reason is that I have required it. I have pulled them along with me. I have given them no choice, have not waited patiently for their cooperation. By necessity, they were forced to experience my care so that they would come to trust it. I think that's okay; it's the nature of my task in their lives.
But it makes me very different from God. And even as part of me wants to resist and stay in charge, another part of me kind of does wish He would just sweep in and force my hand. I could protest a little while I secretly rejoiced in not having to choose, not having to take responsibility for my own laziness or fear or pride. I'm sure He would develop a much better version of me than I have so far.
But He waits patiently, holding out His hand to lead me toward better things, because I have to want that, too.
And as much as my experiences as a mom have taught me more about the heart of God, in this I continue to struggle - He will wait. He loves me deeply and fully and with absolutely no demands, but He will take nothing from me that is not freely offered, so He will wait.
In the face of the rushing demands of daily life, all too often, I leave Him waiting. Other things are clamoring for my attention, but He does not, so I'll get around to Him after other things are stilled and quiet, right? That never happens. Instead, I have to continue to learn, one moment at a time, to lift my gaze to Him, purposefully choosing to seek His direction, in the middle of this whirlwind of a life.