`Nothing Ever Goes As Planned

When I was a teenager, my favorite rock band in the world was the band Styx. I used to lay awake late at night listening to the secret cassette recordings I had of all their albums.  

But my favorite was Paradise Theater, which was a concept album---a fictional account of Chicago's Paradise Theatre from its opening to closing (and eventual abandonment), which the band used as a metaphor for America's changing times from the late 1970s into the 1980s.

One of the lesser known songs is "Nothing Ever Goes As Planned," and for all of my life whenever my plans go astray, or things don't work out as I hoped, the chorus to that song plays in my head: 

Cause, nothing ever goes as planned
It's a hell of a notion
Even pharaohs turn to sand
Like a drop in the ocean
You're so together and you act so civilized
But every time that things go wrong you're still surprised
You've done your duty, you've paid a fortune in dues
Still got those mother nature's blues

Honestly, over the past few months, that song has been playing in my head over and over again as I've watched one plan of mine after another get blown up in COVID-world.  We all have.  

I'll let you in on a little secret.  There are days over the last few months when I  have felt like I couldn't make one more decision to get overturned by some cruel twist of fate, or create one more plan to be foiled by COVID-related nonsense.  

Maybe you have felt the same way.  If we were all sitting together right now, I'd play that Styx song and we could all listen and nod along to the chorus with knowing looks on our faces.  

That would be good actually... to hang out with you guys, and listen to music and then keep doing that for a really long time until all of this is over.  Here's the song in case you want to pretend with me. 

Here's the thing, though.  For those of us who say that we follow Jesus, we don't have to shrink back from challenges or be afraid to keep moving forward even when the world is in complete chaos.

You see, the One we say is our Way, our Truth and our Light is always there in our future, "preparing a place for us"---no matter how twisted the path we take to get there.  We don't have to be afraid---for long.  

But it is okay that we sometimes feel fear about the unknowing aspect of that kind of trust, though.  It's okay to let ourselves feel some frustration at our finite scope of understanding about what's going on around us, or to feel doubts about the direction that we ought to take.  

After all, these are the things that make us human, and we need to give ourselves a break once in a while.  

But there will come a time when standing still is no longer an option.  

If we let it, fear can morph from being a fleeting feeling to a paralyzing pressure that keeps us from rising and journeying to that place in the future Jesus is getting ready.    

Madeline L'Engle once wrote:  
We have to be braver than we think we can be, because God is constantly calling us to be more than we are to see through the plastic sham to living, breathing reality and to break down our defenses of self-protection in order to be free to receive and give love. 

 I love that, don't you?  

Yes, sometimes nothing seems to go as planned---at least in the way that we understanding planning, which is wrapped up in our desire for control, and the preservation of our own oft-self-centered sense of well-being.  

But when we let go of our fears, and our need for everything to work out neatly... When we break free from our feelings of dread over an uncertain future... When we decide to trust the One who we stumble after on the Way...  

We soon discover that we are braver than we think, and there is freedom and life and light around even the most difficult bends in life's journey.  

May this be so for you today and everyday forward, and may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.  


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