Have I mentioned that I’m a planner? Yes, I want to know where I’m going, what I’m doing, and how I’m going to get there waaaaaaaay in advance of any and every event. I also like to have a contingency plan for my plans. If plan A doesn’t work out, then I can easily and confidently resort to B, C, or D. Options are good. I like them.
This compulsive need to plan ahead for all contingencies is evidenced by the gargantuan size of my suitcase when we travel. I must have several options for each day. What if it rains? What if I don’t feel like wearing athletic shoes? What if an unexpected blizzard pops up right smack in the middle of July? What if we meet European royalty and get invited to a costume ball while hiking at the Grand Canyon?
I’m totally kidding about that last option, but you get the picture. I need choices and alternatives. Picture an enormous, hard-shell suitcase large enough for an entire wardrobe, with an interior compression system and removable laundry bag – and that’s just what I take for a weekend away. 😉
But all that luggage can really be a pain to deal with. There’s the loading and unloading of it from the vehicle and the wheeling/carrying of it into hotels/lodging. If I’m flying, there’s the potential for extra charges if it weighs more than 50lbs. There’s the hauling of it up onto and down from the luggage racks on various parking and rental-car shuttles. If I’m not careful, all the planning for options can really weigh me down on a trip that is meant to be fun and relaxing.
Winston Churchill once said, “Let our advance worrying become advance thinking and planning.” This statement has been my unintentional motto for most of my life. I combat the bothersome tendency toward worry with precise planning. I manage anxiety about the unknown in knowing what my options are.
As the years pass and I grow closer to the Lord, I pray more and plan less, but there are still some situations in life where I like to know my plan in advance. When people ask me questions, I like to have answers.
I’ve recently hit a situation that is the proverbial wall in my compulsive need to have a plan. This isn’t some wimpy sheet-rock wall through which you can punch your fist or swing a bat. Instead, it’s the equivalent of a 12” block wall, reinforced with steel rebar, poured solid with concrete and faced with brick. If you know anything about construction, you know that this wall is NOT going anywhere.
Earlier this week I was sharing with a wise friend all the nuances of my current circumstances. She listened raptly, and after I was finished, she said, “Jennifer, it sounds like you are on The Potter’s wheel.”
I quickly followed up her statement with a nod of my head and a witty quip about it being someone else’s time to take a go round on it, but later that day I took time to really ponder her words.
A quick word search on BibleGateway.com for “potter” and “clay” yields several verses, but I felt these two from Isaiah 64:8 and Isaiah 45:9 really jumped out to me:
And yet, O Lord, you are our Father.
We are the clay, and you are the potter.
We all are formed by your hand.
Does a clay pot argue with its maker?
Does the clay dispute with the one who shapes it,
saying, ‘Stop, you’re doing it wrong!’
Does the pot exclaim, ‘How clumsy can you be?’
I was struck with a mental picture of me, a clay figurine atop a spinning potter’s wheel, frantically trying to keep hold of my gargantuan, overweight pieces of luggage. My Potter was gently and lovingly trying to mold me and make me into something useful and beautiful, yet I was holding on to all these oversized plans and options. As the wheel turned, objects were escaping from my suitcases and flying away into the oblivion.
My grasping struggle atop the potter’s wheel was creating this unnecessary friction and discomfort for me while delaying the masterpiece My Potter was trying to create.
If I would let go of my carefully packed, yet burdensome luggage and surrender to The Potter’s expertise, the extra friction would cease and peace would come flooding back.
What insight this is. What freedom this brings – this letting go of every single thing. Arms up high as I surrender to the loving hands of The Potter.
Father God, I lift up my circumstances to you, as they are beyond my control at this time. I let go of my plans and options. I will defer to your expertise, your ways, and your purposes. I will travel light.