“The wild God reaches into a bag
made of moles and nightingale skin
He pulls out a two-reeded pipe,
raises an eyebrow
And all the birds begin to sing…”
It turns out the answer to my question is an obvious yes. The otters and foxes of Tom Hiron’s poem play best in the wild of course. Our God is a wild God after all.
Suzanne Stabile says in her book The Journey Toward Wholeness that “There is a big difference between change and transformation. Change is when we take on something new. Transformation occurs when something old falls away, usually beyond our control…Everyday, sometimes many times, I have to ask myself , ‘Suzanne, what are you willing to give up for transformation?‘ so that I can answer the hallmark question for my life…”
Suzanne Stabile has a hallmark question for her life and I have one for mine. Every day I hear God ask me this:
What do you really want? What’s the story you want to tell?
I will always gravitate towards an image of a wild God picking up a pipe to play because if I’ve been certain of anything my whole life its been this: There’s nothing random happening here. Even the chaos of a given moment has purpose. There’s an overarching song at play if I can pause long enough to hear it come through.
And while I don’t want to give this to her, Suzanne Stabile is right. Transformation happens only by giving something up. For me, the giving up has usually meant giving up on whatever control I thought I had over the narrative. A willingness and frankly a meekness to say: “I don’t know where this is going but I’m trusting this process and I’m taking the next right step in faith.”
If I think back to the moments of transformation – where something changed fundamentally inside my life – it almost always came after a moment of giving up.
So, after a global pandemic and all the attendant difficulty that came with it, I suppose the question for us all is this:
Whats the hallmark question of your life?
and the next obvious question from there is this:
What do you need to let go of to move forward towards its answer?
This life is not one giant transaction. Do you understand that? I’m convinced this is the reason God allows pandemics, cancer, marital strife, communal difficulty…He will not allow us to go unchanged. And thank God for that. There’s a song God’s playing…the birds and flower buds in Atlanta are already climbing out of their winter shelters to hear it for another round. What would happen if we all got quiet enough to hear it with them?
“ I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives. Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity. Anyone who wants to serve me must follow me, because my servants must be where I am. And the Father will honor anyone who serves me. “ John 12:24-26