It’s weird how much I love calendars. At the beginning of a new semester, I stand at the bottom of the stairs and yell up to my teenagers, “Bring me your packets, your schedules, your forms!” It makes me so happy to see our plans written out on our family calendar. I lug around a Bible-sized spiral calendar like I am some sort of royal scheduler. It’s ridiculous, really, but I like having a framework for our lives in plain sight and on paper. (I am aware, people, that I can do this all digitally and we can sync our calendars as a family. This makes me very nervous and it isn’t going to happen. You can stop telling me about this “new” system.) It’s comforting for me to look ahead and see that Caleb is in this play, Caro has this race, and here’s where we’ll carve out family time. I still double-book and sometimes forget to pick up kids, but schedules give me some sense about what might be around the next corner.
Of course, it isn’t about the calendar. It’s about control.
I had a dream a few weeks ago that I was holding back the ocean for my kids to walk on dry land to the other side. It was clearly inspired by Sunday School pictures of Moses and the Israelites crossing the Red Sea and also by the movie Moana. My holding back the sea with both arms outstretched was, shockingly, not going well. I couldn’t hold it back.
It was a messed up dream. What in the world was I doing? Who did I think I was? Moses? God? It doesn’t take a dream analyst to discern that I’m struggling with all that is coming for my kids, especially for my teenagers. I see everything that is rushing towards them, including but not limited to, driving, dating, school, sports, college, demands on their time, and decisions about their priorities. I want to hold it all back.
Again, it’s about control. I need to let them find their own way across the sea. I need to let them determine their own schedules. I need to remember that they belong to God and not to me.
I claim to trust in God’s promises, but I sometimes forget that God really does have a plan for us. I find such comfort in God’s declaration to the Israelites, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
I’ve been praying lately about community and diversity for our twins. I’ve been trying to map out their future and it simply isn’t being revealed to me. Finally, one day as I was praying, I said, “I don’t know when or how or where I’m going to find the right place for them.” Clear as day, I heard God say to me, “Well, I do.” It stopped me in my tracks.
I had forgotten that God does not operate within the confines of my calendar, as awesome as my calendar is. I had forgotten, despite repeated examples of God’s care for us, that God had a plan for my family and for all of God’s people. I had forgotten that trusting in God is more important than trusting in my calendar.
It is completely impossible for us to hold back the seas for our kids. It’s equally impossible for us to control the future. Isn’t it wonderful that neither of those things are up to us?