As the summer draws to a close and we prepare, once more, to take up books and syllabi, resume our campus commutes, check our Wi-Fi to prepare for Zoom sessions, coordinate schedules, shift ministry activities, map out to-do lists (whew!)...I invite us all to take a moment to sit with these lines from Pastor Drew Jackson’s poem, “The Anointing:”
“…But whatever that something moves you to do, let the Spirit take you.
To shake the foundations and make new worlds.
To break open new paradigms and design an unforeseen story.
To love. It will always move you to love.”
These words remind me of the wisdom of Proverbs 16:9, “The human mind plans the way, but the Lord directs the steps.” There is something both unsettling and assuring about this truth. It is unsettling to realize that our plans might not unfold the way that we thought. Those who know me well know that I am a planner. It is my nature to map things out and have a contingency plan (okay, multiple contingency plans!). But life in and with God has taught me, albeit reluctantly at first, to “hold things loosely”—to be willing to let go of my plans as I see God doing something different. I have learned to “let the Spirit take” me and be brave enough to trust God as I go. I have learned to calm myself when what I may have held as foundational begins to shake beneath my feet, jarring me into new places and spaces. (Being a huge Star Trek fan probably helps with this, too, if I’m honest.) I have learned not to shy away from new paradigms, and to delight in the possibility of a story unfolding in a way that I had never imagined. Most of all, I have learned to see love as the “prime directive.” Releasing ourselves from some of our other tightly held “directives” to flow in love will always take us places we have not gone before. Knowing that the Spirit is leading us allows us to go boldly—but also with a good dose of humility.
Where will the Spirit take you this semester, Beloved? I know you’ve laid your plans, but will you be open to the Spirit’s call and brave enough to let yourself be taken wherever God directs? Even if it takes you into the unknown and the uncomfortable? Even if it shakes up the relational or theological or ecclesiological ground beneath your feet? Will you take the risk to love, knowing that it could send you on an entirely different trajectory than the one you imagined?
I hope that you will. A fair interpretation of the verse from Proverbs would indicate that God does not ignore our plans (After all, it is God who gave us minds to think and plan in the first place!.) But because, as Jackson says toward the end of the poem, “We have all been chosen for love,” we should not be surprised when God refines or redirects our plans toward what most reflects God’s loving intent. May we all be eager to go with the Divine flow as we “run on and see what the end will be.”
1- Jackson, Drew. God Speaks Through Wombs (p. 58). InterVarsity Press. Kindle Edition.
Rev. Dr. Phaedra D. Blocker has a passion for empowering individuals and organizations (particularly clergy and churches) to move toward wholeness and actualize their potential. She currently serves as Affiliate Professor in Leadership & Formation and Assistant Director of Openseminary at Palmer Theological Seminary of Eastern University.