Friday, May 10, 2013

Playing Chicken with God

If I were to transcribe the half-dialogue/half-impressionistic thought life which sometimes passes as prayer in my head, it would go something like this: 

God: “Want to have a little fun?”

Me: “Define fun...”

“I know where the passport is.  You can look, but you won't find it.  You'll have to depend on me to return it to you, or not.  Game?"

One has to question these sorts of interactions--what's God up to?  Is it God?  And what's my motivation?!   

On the other hand, there is something very compelling when God invites you into a game (yeah, I did think it was him).  Why would I refuse?!  I couldn't.

“Challenge accepted.”

As the days wore on and the passport didn’t surface, people began commenting on how calm I was. I couldn’t take much credit, but admit to some moments of perplexity, sheepishness, concern, stress, and “Do I have an over-active imagination?!”  But as the days wore on with no sight of the passport, it became mostly playing chicken with God.

The rules of the game were such that I had the luxury of going through all the motions one would in such a circumstance, without worry.  And even though I had a Plan B and a Plan C in place, I suspected it was a waste of energy.  Either I had this all wrong, or that passport was going to show up in the nick of time.  

And as the nick of time approached, my confidence rose.  I was sure that Peek-a-Boo God was about to trump all the odds, slam down that passport any minute, and laugh.   ‘Score!” he would say, and I'd be laughing right along with him.  

I almost hoped we wouldn’t find the passport in the usual way--turning tables upside down and digging through trash cans, cupboards and suitcases.  What kind of a story would that make?!  Not the supernatural kind.    

Chicken time.  Who would blink first? 

As it turned out (if you read previous posts), neither of us.  It turned out exactly as God said: “I know where the passport is.  You can look, but you won't find it.  You'll have to depend on me to return it to you, or not."  (I'm glad the 'not' part didn't happen.)

I declare myself the winner.  I’m sure God does too.  

I won the passport, and a good spiritual workout; only God knows what he won, but I'm guessing he got to build in a bunch of faith and trust in those of us who were praying through this game.  

With the space of a 9-hr. flight to meditate on all this, memories surfaced of several other recent games of chicken, when I was led to disregard certain ‘problems’ as phantoms.  To move past them, and see the hand of God.  

On my return home, sharing this story with someone, the story of Abraham came to mind.  Called to sacrifice his son, Abraham obeyed, unflinchingly.  He moved towards the ultimate challenge--until the very last possible second, when his hand was stayed.  

Moses, at God's word, found himself staring into the Red Sea, waiting for it to part--with a crowd of fleeing slaves around him, and Pharaoh’s army bearing down.  The Sea parted. 

Good company to be in.  My spiritual muscles are a little sore but stronger, and I'm sure I'll get more workouts in the years ahead--till I can say with them, "Though he slay me, yet will I trust him."  

Challenge accepted. 

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