Last week, I was able to go for lunch with a friend. It was a chance to combine Montana’s sweet potato fries with a few hours of fantastic conversation, and I enjoyed myself immensely.
Since then, I keep thinking about different things that we talked about. (I love talks with friends that leave me with something to chew on for a long time after!)
The thing that has been on my mind the most is something that my friend often says – many times throughout the years, I have heard her talking about “learning to live in the tension.” I love that. She’s often talked to me about how life will never be perfect, and there are times when we wish so much that our circumstances were different, but they will not change – at least for a while. In the meantime, the best thing we can do is learn to live in the tension.
Sometimes it’s kind of easy to get upset and frustrated that our prayers are not immediately delivering us in some kind of crazy supernatural way. God does do that sometimes. But sometimes not.
“Learning to live in the tension” means to me that I can learn to accept my present circumstance without sitting around, sulking, and I can have the strength to carry on. If I truly believe that God provides for my every need, then I should be able to adjust to the present circumstances, however difficult and tense they may be.
So many times, I have cried, “I can’t take it anymore!” I am often tempted to complain, and I want to quit when things get hard. I never do, because I’m far too stubborn, but I can have a really bad attitude at times.
And then I call my friend, and dump it all out on her. She patiently listens, and then she soothes me with her words of wisdom, and her encouragement to keep trying to learn to live in the tension.
It reminds me of a sermon I heard once. I can’t remember the name of the man speaking, but he was a professor at a well-known seminary in the States. He had a very dignified, intelligent way of expressing himself, and it was immediately obvious that he was skilled at communicating in a very formal way.
I loved it when he shared that when he’s very busy travelling and speaking all over the place, things are getting a little too hectic, and he needs to relax, he loves to read something escapist. He’ll read a Tom Clancy book and get so carried away with it that when he gets to the part where the hero is trapped, the enemy has surrounded him, his love-interest has been captured, and all hope is lost, this distinguished doctor cannot handle it anymore. The suspense is just too much for him, and every time, he says he can’t go on any longer unless….he goes to the back of the book and reads the ending! He just needs to know that everything will be okay, and then he can go back, and no matter what happens, he’ll know how it all ends.
And he said that was like life with Jesus. No matter how bad things get, or how hopeless everything seems, we know how it all ends.
The strength and hope that comes from knowing that can be enough. Learning to live in the tension is possible because we know how it all ends.
Sometimes that’s really hard to remember. What’s happening right now can be so consuming. But that’s when I know that it’s been too long since I’ve spent time getting my priorities straight. I know that it’s time to struggle through it all with God until I remember what is most important.
That isn’t easy. But I think it’s one of those things that gets better with practice…