As I was wrapping up Air Force basic training (never have seven weeks passed so swiftly and so slowly), one of the final bureaucratic details was the chance to tell the Air Force our preference of first posting, for them to promptly ignore.
We were given a “dream sheet” on which to list eight desired destinations. We could select a base, state, region, or country.
Some of us got an insider tip: wait until tech school to file your sheet. For whatever reason, sheets filed there tended to be actually seen by someone, whereas those filed at basic vanished into the same black hole that has probably consumed all my socks.
So I waited until tech school, filed my sheet, and waited with bated breath for the dorm sergeant to announce my posting. He did this weekly from his podium, usually triggering jeers of fake sympathy for anyone getting “Why Not Minot?”
Finally, my turn came. I got a posting in the…half of the country I’d requested.
Wrong border, though. 1,500 miles away.
Did the Air Force just not care?
Long ago, I listened to a remarkably holy man, a cancer patient, sharing a conversation with God about what he was going through.
It was a naked, piercing, and heavy testimony of the “when you’ve finally just had it” variety. During a morning quiet time in his big easy chair, he is praying and listening for God and suddenly (for are not these things rather sudden?) just breaks into venting and protesting the story God is writing for him. It’s not just cancer. It’s the ongoing changes and the constant vigilance and the misunderstandings and the shame and fear that attend. All his anger and helplessness and isolation explodes before the throne in frustration. He lets God know. (Wouldn’t it feel good to do that yourself, if you dared?)
And the man described hearing God reply, “I understand you don’t like the story. How do you feel about the Author?”
It’s one of two things the man shared that cut me to the quick. Not a pleasant reveal, but an unmistakably holy one. A divine refocusing.
For we all know it’s not really about life’s circumstances. It’s about the sovereign One who’s controlling them, or letting them happen, or however you interpret that. And I could tell you exactly how my journey (e.g. my family history, my weird and glitchy personality) has made me feel about God.
The other thing he said was:
“I could just hear the clarity coming to myself, and I finally said it: ‘What I really don’t like is, I’m now living a life where I need you, God, on a day-to-day basis, just to get through it. And I don’t like being desperately needy for you, God.'”
There’s just no two ways around it – we can’t all get what we want on election week. After months of tiresome campaign ads that test all of our adherence to Matthew 6:34, we’re about to see which direction the government – most importantly, the Senate – swings.
We can’t control what happens, beyond our duty to vote (by the way, VOTE). But we can see to our reaction.
I’m no sage, but here’s what I have a conviction about come Tuesday – win or lose.