I kind of have a Netflix problem.
I’m not talking about the chronic, binge-watching Netflix virus. I know it’s typical for millennials to drown in episodes for hours on end. But for me, my problem has always been jumping the middle of a story. I’ll skip not just episodes but seasons to discover how a particular story conflict pans out. (I mean, didn’t you want to know if Rachel and Ross ended up together, too?)
I know, I know. I can see you there reading this post. “Seriously?” you ask. “Skip eight seasons to find out the ending—and then go back? Isn’t that ruining the entire story?”
The short answer for all of your questions, my friends, is: yes.
But I didn’t want to just fly past the nitty-gritty details of Friends and Gilmore Girls. I wanted to skip the boring sections of the novels I read and the faculty meetings I attended. I didn’t want to take the scenic route or beat around the bush when I could get straight to the juicy parts. So I would often be impatient when it came to my quiet time with the Lord.
“How long am I going to be single?” I asked Him. “Am I going to come back to teaching one day?” “Am I going to live here forever?” “Should I think about purchasing this house?”
Eventually, God said, “You’re trying to Netflix me.”
“You’re trying to know the end of your story,” He said. “And then live each day knowing how it all plays out.”
It was one of those moments God could’ve dropped the mic if He wanted to.
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope,” (Jeremiah 29:11 ESV). This popular verse breathes promise whenever the enemy taps on our shoulder with anxiety.
But as for my lets-do-it-right-now, tell-me-ASAP personality, it often has me looking up at the Lord. “Ohh,” I laugh with Him. “So you do know my plans for the future. Then, hey. Maybe give a girl a detail?”
You see, I’m not fearful. I trust that I’ll be better than okay. I don’t need my entire future outlined on a calendar with a nicely color-coded key.
But if I could get a ‘save the date’ for the life-changing moments- well, God. That’d be quite nice.
In college, an education professor recommended that we hand our students a class syllabus. This sounds like a smart practice, but there was a major flaw to his pedagogy: a high school curriculum is denser than a collegiate one. And therefore, when my students received an assignment-by-assignment syllabus, they were completely overwhelmed.
“Don’t worry about that,” I told them when they came during lunch to ask about November. “That paper isn’t due for a few months.”
It didn’t matter. They were overwhelmed with the information. They couldn’t focus on their first assignment when they knew each project’s deadline. It was frustrating and disorienting to explain The Great Gatsby when we hadn’t even finished The Crucible.
Scripture tells us “The secret things belong to the Lord” (Deuteronomy 29:29). Usually, the word ‘secret’ stirs up memories of clubhouses and middle school bathrooms. It makes me feel excluded and anxious.
But it never dawned on me that a withheld secret could sometimes be in my best interest.
One Episode at a Time
“Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes,” (Matthew 6:34 MSG).
If I had known that I’d one day move down South, I wouldn’t have spent so many high-school-Saturdays skiing. If someone had told me I’d only teach public school for a few years, I wouldn’t have worked so hard in undergrad. Even though prophetic words have always encouraged anticipation, I’ve never had enough information to be tempted into negligence.
There are seasons (both in the natural and Netflix realm) that seem like they drag. There are days when I crave an episode guide, an IMDB page, and a concrete answer from the Lord. But if there is something “God is doing right now,” then He knows better than to hand me a syllabus.
I’d be worse than the 17-year-olds.
Featured Image by Mario Calvo