The Long Arc

The problem with quick fixes, miracles, or healing is that they only require a short attention span. And not very much trust. I, however, am a fan of the quick work of God. I love it when He starts, and completes something within a month.  I can wait for a month. I can even trust for a month.

But this past year has been full of projects that seemed to follow longer arcs than I’m used to. From the starting point to the ending point, there was enough distance and height in the arc for me to lose sight of why I started on this project, and unable to see the finish point, and unable to see the ground to know how high this arc had taken me.

It’s not a perfect metaphor, but it’s the best way I can think to describe some of the things that happened.  I’ll just share one example.

My dad was unemployed for about 9 months starting in Sept. of 2008.  At some point in spring of 2009, on one of their trips to visit us, we jokingly suggested that he look for a job in State College. We said that if he got a job here, we could hire my mom as Austin’s nanny instead of putting him in daycare.

It started as a joke, but the more we thought about it, we realized how many ways this could work, and how great a blessing this would be for them and us.  My mom was very, very overworked, my dad needed a job, and we needed a nanny.

The vision was very clear back then. So when my Dad got a job offer in State College, it seemed like it was a quick work of God. A month later, he moved up here. My mom could not move at that time, as she was so deeply rooted in her two jobs, she could not simply pick up and leave.

It took over two months for my mom to finally move up here for good. And even then, for the first month or so, she was back and forth a lot visiting with her dad who was in the process of going home to see his maker.  I remember thinking right before she moved up here, how it seemed like so long ago that we ever had this idea, and now, literally 6 months later, it still wasn’t ‘finished’.

Our vision was for my parents to have a secure home here in State College, for my mom to be free of the demands of her jobs, and for everyone to work together to make our unusual household run.  Instead, we had my parents living apart, my dad working hard to adapt to a new job, my mom trying to clean up after years and years of being solely responsible for too many things, Lori preparing to return to work, and I had just left my job to continue running my guitar lesson business.

This was not the picture we had in our minds so many months ago. I felt like we were at the top of a very long arc, unable to see where we started, and unsure if there was an end to this arc that connected with the ground. But I felt God telling me that this was the nature of long, drawn-out projects, even the ones that he starts.

Unlike the quick, can’t-catch-my-breath projects that are over and done so fast, these slow works of God require a strong relationship, especially at the peak, when you’re the farthest from anything that looks like the dream that you began with, and the reality of the finished work.  Without that relationship, you’ll be tempted to get distracted with something else that looks easier to complete. Or to try and force a quick end to the project.

Only when you know God’s voice will you hear him say “I started this. It’s real. It will be finished.”

Of course, there’s always the situations where we started on some project that was never ordained by God, and we find ourselves in this situations, just with a different response from him.  Although, hearing his voice is a great way to avoid finding yourself on an arc with no end.  If you find yourself there, you still need to have that relationship, to hear him say “Not this way, not right now.”

Either way, the arc, the project, the time, none of it is the focus. Those are just things we do. The real key is why we do it, and that’s directly connected to our relationship with Him. If that’s intact, there’s no arc too long for us to follow.

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