Dearest Rachel –
The letters that I wrote you back when we were officially courting never had titles. They were either filling you in on the things that were going on in my life while we were separated, or explaining the songs that I was sending you along with the letter, or just telling you the things that were on my mind. They never had a particular theme to them, and I certainly never tried to have some over-arching theme to a series of them. They were, after all, for your eyes only. They could meander in any direction that struck me, and you would still treasure them regardless, because they were from me (kind of like the way I’ve saved up your sermon notes and study guides as reminders from you).
That’s a far cry from the way these letters are. For one thing, I know that your eyes will never see them, but there will be a number of other eyes that will. And I suppose that as a consequence, my approach to writing these is a little different then if I was writing to you and only you.
In fact, I had originally started this as a single letter, covering all the twists and turns in my life where I made decisions, important ones, for my life. All of this with the running theme that – while I may have prayed about them at the time, and simply don’t recall doing so anymore (although there are some where I’m pretty sure I didn’t, and they results proved to be less than ideal in hindsight as a result) – I never felt like I had gotten explicit confirmation from God that the path I had chosen in any case was the correct one. The only means I had to determine whether or not I had made the right choice was that things… “worked out” in the end. All of which proves absolutely nothing, since we all know that at times, the wicked prosper and the righteous suffer. Prosperity is no proof of propriety, period.
But each of these events began to grow as I started to flesh them out through my memory, and the letter became unwieldy, both to write and to read in a single setting. I mentioned this difficulty to Erin on one of our Tuesday walks, and she suggested making a series out of it, doling it out to you (and the world at large) in more bite-sized chunks to make it easier on all of us. I even learned to schedule parts to post on a daily basis while Daniel and I were visiting Kevin, just in case writing on the spot would be difficult, especially while in transit (and, as there was a day or two when internet access proved… problematic, that worked out better than anticipated, even).
But as a result, it’s possible the title that I’ve given this series of letters is a bit more click-baity than it ought to be. Rather than blaming God for his silence, these letters perhaps would’ve been better titled something like “I Never Heard Him Speak” or “I Didn’t Recognize His Voice.” The onus to know His will should’ve been on me.
While the Proverbs talk about wisdom, and how it offers a better life to those that follow it, it is no guarantee. By contrast, in fact, several psalmists complain that the wicked seem to prosper. And of course, there is Job, who makes it abundantly clear that the righteous will suffer from time to time, sometimes without any obvious reason. The point is, a smooth and easy life is no guarantee that you’re in God’s will or his favor.
That is what is has concerned me throughout all of these decisions in my life: past, present or future. And I worry that, despite their working out for me, at least from a human standpoint, that means nothing. So how do I know that I’m making the right call? Especially when – as in the case of my plans to search for “Megumi,” for instance – I’m not supposed to find her, or even waste my time looking for her, since she’s not part of HIs plan for me?
In his pattern for prayer that Jesus gave to his disciples – and by extension, to us – The phrases “Thy kingdom come / Thy will be done” roll off the tongue just a little too well for us English speakers. The two lines rhyme too well, the meter fits too comfortably. Because the second phrase isn’t finished. The entire phrase is “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” We are asking that He accomplish His purposes here on earth with the same directness and alacrity as it is carried out in the heavenly realms, whether by the angelic hosts or by the forces of nature itself (“‘Let there be light,’ and there was light,” for instance).
The Galilean centurion understood this perfectly, when he asked for Jesus to heal his servant. Being a part of hierarchical structure himself, where he both gave and received orders, he understood Jesus capacity to simply order that his servant be healed. And as a result of his statement, even Jesus himself was amazed. Imagine that: possessing so much faith that you amaze God himself.
Well, I certainly am not in possession of that kind of faith. I mean, I may understand how God can order things, and have them obey Him. But I personally don’t recognize the orders that I’ve been given, leading me to wonder: how on earth can I carry them out? Are the paths I’m taking the ones He wants me on?
As I’m writing this, I’m sitting around in our bedroom, waiting for Chompers to finally settle down for the night, as I have to these days . Just like the other night, he’s struggling to get onto his feet so as to poke past that wall of boxes that surround the Christmas tree. He is alternating between whining in frustration and panting from exertion as he tries to do this one thing that I don’t want him to. It seems that all the barricades I put up to discourage him will not stop him in his quest. And I wonder if ultimately, I’m no more cognizant of what God wants for me that that dog is about what I want him to do.
In a way, I find myself right back where I started this entire essay; with the realization that I still don’t know when it’s Him nudging me in one direction or another, and when it’s just me navigating by my own lights. So I’m just left with the same song that I started with to describe my position. Maybe, I don’t really know Him. Or maybe, I just simply believe.
But is that good enough?
終わり (the end… for now)