Some days I actually wish for some type of minor calamity to be inflicted upon my life so I would be forced to make radical decisions that would alter my life’s direction and be completely justified by the circumstances.
Now that’s a ridiculous confession. I love my wife, my kids, my friends, and most of my life’s other circumstances, but I’m a 41-year-old accountant who still wakes up on occasion with an aching desire for the life of William Wallace, or Frodo Baggins, or Rob Bell, or even my father, the lifelong preacher, and wondering if I missed a turn somewhere and, if so, whether it’s possible to ever get back on track. Then I wish, timidly, for a push from God, something that would force me to react, rather than think.
Don’t get me wrong, I would never dream of altering my family or putting them at risk, much less wishing for that. Actually, I pray frequently that I will be sensitive enough to God’s leading that he won’t have to shake my foundations – translation: family – to get my attention.
I don’t regret anything about family circumstances or desire any radical changes there. At most, I’d want more children, maybe some adopted, and there are days I desire a bigger house or a newer car. But the calamities of wishes and daydreams are reserved more for the way I occupy my days.
A good calamity could present an opportunity to make decisions that would otherwise appear foolish. As I’ve reasoned my way through those days, I’ve realized time and again that appearances are the crux of the matter preventing me from taking radical steps. If I made decisions and changes in my life that would seem to satisfy my dreams, everyone would think I had gone crazy. They might be right, but why would I care?
I used to say to my wife, “I wish they would just fire me, then I would be forced to change.” We could downsize, shed a few possessions, cut back on the status quo. I could take on a couple of lesser-paying, but interesting jobs for a while, go back to school or seminary, pick up some new skills, maybe start my own business or a church. I would say, “I had to do it. I didn’t have any other options,” and people would nod and agree and be sympathetic while assuring me it was the right thing to do.”
My career success, mediocre as it is, has hemmed me in and made me fat, lazy and wimpy. I’m not sure I’m hungry any more, willing to take risks and let go of concerns about meeting people’s expectations. I’m tired. Did I miss God?
Whine, whine, whine. Blah, blah, blah . . .
Finally, I get sick of my own nonsense. I call off the dreams of waiting to respond to someone else’s actions or ideas. I need to just get over that and grow a backbone. If radical decisions need to be made to get my life back in God’s direction, or to stay in God’s direction, or just to quiet my whining soul, I need to have the nerve to make them.
I am not, nor do I ever want to be the victim of circumstance. Either I’m following the voice of God, or I’m following my belly and all of its silly desires. Who needs calamities after all? I certainly don’t.
I’m going to do the right thing because it’s right, without concern for appearances or comfort. I’ll be an accountant until I die if that’s where I’ve been called, and I’ll be a good one. I’ll live as a covert radical in the midst of mediocrity. Making the most of every subtle opportunity God presents to have a little influence on lives and loving people like God intended, in small ways on small days.
Then, maybe, just maybe, if God quietly opens a door, or even offers one for the opening, presenting opportunities to change the world, I’ll step through, and laugh. I’ll laugh like James Earl Jones did as Terrence Mann in the Field of Dreams, as he stepped into the corn at the end of the movie, following the baseball players from heaven, just to see what’s out there. Maybe.