Do You Want To Continue Leading Your Life?
“I’m a pastor, and God doesn’t talk to me. Do you really think He talks to you?”
Its no longer a novel question, so my response has become a touch rote.
“Yes, I do,” I respond, squeezing the words out through a tiny space in the barrier keeping my exasperation at bay.
I never seem to have time to elaborate in these situations – these skeptics like to bring this up in quick moments as a meeting is ending or just before a presentation is about to begin. I wonder at times if I would even want to engage in an extended dialogue on the subject. I’ve come to learn that when it comes to discussions with the Divine, it tends to be impossible to convince a skeptic.
But were I to engage, were I to have the chance to split a vegan muffin and a mug of tea with one of these doubters, I think I know what I would try to explain. It would be that it is not a matter of “why you, not me,” or a comparison of checklists to determine who is more worthy of hearing Him. I truly believe we are all capable of this type of conversation. We just fail to slow down enough, quiet down enough, let go of the controls enough, to participate.
* * *
A couple of friends send me their prayer requests with a note that they feel like since I seem to have a direct line to God, maybe His response would be better, faster, of the preferred flavor if the request came from me. I don’t buy that, but I add the requests to my list and send them on their way just the same.
God and I have been talking in less formal settings again lately. Lots of time in the car together. Lots of time walking Hope. We wander and roam and usually I babble and sometimes I remember to shut up and just listen. We’re back on the discussion lately about why all this had to happen. Its something of a vicious cycle of a conversation. I start wondering again why The Dark Night Of 2016 had to happen, then I start to wonder why I am wondering when I know it had to happen. Long enough on that topic and I start to wonder if it all wouldn’t just be easier to be less connected, less aware, less broken open.
I was indoctrinated into this world of understanding the light on the other side of the dark night early. Most don’t meander through cancer, divorce, the loss of a parent, sobriety, and cancer again before seeing forty. And that’s not even including the bumps of depression and anxiety that found their way in there, or the events of my childhood years. I learned early on that we don’t always get to understand the purpose of the dark a single moment before the sun rises. I learned early the extraordinary beauty of those pitch black hours. But I wonder sometimes what it would be like not to know.
Blissful ignorance must have its perks.
But I wouldn’t know.
* * *
One recent morning I was puttering around listening to Rob Bell and Pete Holmes go on about one thing or another. I was only half listening, the other half chatting with Hope and looking at my calendar for the day ahead. But my ears perked up when Pete started talking about Garry Shandling and his near-death experience. Apparently during that experience Garry was asked, “Do you want to continue leading Garry Shandling's life?”
Reportedly, he answered, “Yes,” and returned to Earth.
I have not been able to stop thinking about this.
* * *
Pete Holmes voice rang in my head on the drive to the office, and has continued throughout the day. The week. Through the weekend.
Unbeknownst to him, Pete put words to the question the Divine had posed to me at the end of the pitch-black space of 2016. As I was forced to step out and away from everything, the life that I had built fell away – each obligation, each identification, each commitment toppling one after the other like rocks in a landslide. By the time chemo was over and my numbers returned to normal, 2016 was coming to a close and I was left to watch dawn glint over the expanse of a hollow and vacant space.
As the sun rose slowly, as the light came back out, I could faintly hear God whispering, “Do you want to continue leading Kaity Kasper’s life?”
And my answer was no.
* * *
And this is how I came to be settled into the liminal space I currently occupy. Because I was given a choice – to return to my life – the one I had occupied before nightfall – or to step away and await the life He had planned.
And I stepped away.
Because I finally saw that the life I was trying to build was a creation of my own. One limited by the boundaries of my own imagination and creativity. Limited by the borders of my sight and knowledge. It was my life. Not God’s life. Not the life the Divine intended for me.
Its grossly uncomfortable to tear up the plans you carefully drafted, to leave the house you skillfully designed, to set up your tarp in the middle of the field of possibility to patiently await your calling. Its grossly uncomfortable to sit still for an unknown length of time. Its why we don't all do it - why none of us seem to do it often enough. Its because in those spaces, where it is too quiet and too open and anything - quite literally anything - could happen, we come to learn that the life God has for us will necessarily require time spent in the dark. Time spent cuddled up with our fears and our shame. Time spent not knowing what comes next.
It is in those spaces where God will reveal your life.
And when He asks if you want to continue leading it, you will finally be able to answer, "Yes."