Debbie Salter Goodwin
I Didn't Sign Up for This!
Updated: Mar 15, 2021
I stood by the sliding glass door that looked onto a nicely kept backyard barely two months after I married and said something similar. My marriage to Mark made me mother of an adorable, blond-headed girl with a shy smile that won my heart in the first picture I ever saw of her. But we were facing the greatest unknown we had ever faced. The next morning we were headed to Texas Children’s Hospital for a week of testing to find out the source of Lisa’s muscle weakness. My mind could only fill in the blanks with life-threatening, life-ending possibilities that the doctors could not rule out by office exam.
“I didn’t sign up for this!” I screamed inside.
Why do we believe that we can plot and goal-set our way to a finely accomplished life, and edit out the inconveniences and challenges that get in our way?
Life happens and not always the way we want.
Here we are again as we try live in our pandemic world and try to work, play, and worship. What we want is to go back to the way things were, only more rested, more family-involved, more ready for our normal lives. But what we’re going to get, at least for more months than we wanted, is something we didn't sign up for.
How do we meet it head on? How do we accept what we did not sign up for?
Maybe we need to remember what we did sign up for.
As Christians, we live in what Oswald Chambers calls “Redemption Reality.” We made an exchange at the time of our conversion. Along with forgiveness and membership in the family of God, we exchanged our short-sighted, self-focused ways for the All-Knowledge of God’s ways and direction. It’s not that we can’t dream our dreams and plan our plans, but we must do it differently because we “we are not our own, we have been bought with a price.”
We are not our own, but we keep acting like it. And when we do, we whine more than shine.
Our culture has conditioned us to expect certain lifestyles. Food on grocery shelves. Enough toilet paper. Autonomy in our daily routines. Freedom to speak and pursue happiness.
Jesus prepares us for another life. He says there will be shortages. There will be trouble. There will be wars and reversals and poverty and betrayals and isolation. But he also lifts us to a higher standard as we live through it. He prepares us to be light when other people only see darkness. He tells us we can be salt at a time when nothing tastes normal.
We signed up for that life! Now, more than ever, is our time to live it. Live Redemption Reality. Live as reflected Light. Live to help and serve in these strange times. Live to be ready to give an answer for the hope we have that no pandemic can take away. Live without complaining about what we don’t have. Live what we do have: God’s presence, His peace, the security that He is working behind the scenes according to His mission to share His unfailing love with the whole world. Live as the 99 sheep that are kept by the Shepherd. But live in that fold with a passion to find the missing one.
I stood by the sliding glass door and looked to a night that held little sleep for me. Life was going to take me on a journey I didn’t sign up for, and I was scared. I was doing more complaining than praying. Fear talks like that. Then, with that gentle whisper that only the heart can hear, God said, “I know.” Suddenly, I heard those words differently, the way God really intended them. He did know. He already knew the result of every test and what the final diagnosis would be. He knew! We didn’t. The doctors didn’t, but God knew.
That’s when I made a discovery and a decision. As long as God knows, I don’t have to. I settled my way in life that night, and not just about our daughter. I settled the fact that I never had to live an unknown journey if I throw all my fear and worry against all that God always knows.
And that’s the journey I signed up for. Not to know what it all means, but to follow the One who does know.
This is the journey that gives me all the reason I need for hope in these unsettling times.
How about you? What journey did you sign up for?