As we traverse the highways and backroads of Missouri on a weekly basis, I am continually captured by the ever changing landscape of our state. It can happen with the simple turn of a corner, or completion of a mile. Suddenly right before my eyes the unexpected unfolds and more often than not, catches my breath. I love our state, I love the variety of people and variegated communities. I truly enjoy the endless change from mile to mile, community to community and season to season.
Every spiritual pilgrim recognizes how quickly the landscape of life can change. A turn of a simple corner is likely to unfold unexpected scenery, often catching our breath. It can be a delightful experience, or in all honesty – downright terrifying. Though my head understands that encountering of the unexpected is a normal part of the journey, there are still times when my heart fails to agree. With each moment of breathless surprise, I am faced with a sequence of choices. In the immediate seconds of the unexpected, it is crucial that I make the right first choice, in order for the sequence to fall into place.
I am not the first to comprehend the gravity of that first choice and I understand I am not the only, nor the last. The Psalmist himself evidenced the weight of that first response to the unexpected as he penned his process through his musical journal. His life experience has served me well over the years, like a navigation manual for curves and hills, as well as for basic life surprises: “I will bless the Lord who has counseled me; indeed, my mind instructs me in the night, I have set the Lord continually before me; because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” He then spent several verses speaking truth over himself, concluding with what has become my own go-to verse for each unexpected that crops up: “In Thy presence is fullness of joy”….amen!
“In Thy presence” – the position that significantly alters my perspective and ultimately produces the fruit of joy. Though I resist an oversimplification of the process or sequence that takes place with each unexpected encounter, bottom line is – darting into His presence is the key, it is my necessary first step. Whether I find myself chatting like an overstimulated toddler, or crumpled at His feet with wordless sobs, the truth of scripture tells me He hears. (Psalm 116:1-2) His presence is my sweet spot, His ear is bent toward His children. He understands the moments of thrill, confusion and fear because He has journeyed the corner long before my arrival. He in fact crafted the corner and the scenery it would bring into my life. The reality of His sovereign governance over every circumstance generates an unexplainable peace. The influence of His presence is joy. And the longer I linger – the more beautiful life’s variegation becomes.