BY CHAD BIRD
If I were granted three wishes, one of them would not be to know what the future holds. I have enough trouble wrestling with today’s demons. I don’t want to know what crosses I’ll have to lug around tomorrow. As the wise Rabbi said, “Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”
And some days are so sufficiently evil that tomorrow looms like the open jaws of hell.
For some of us, that evil day was when we sat in divorce court. We can still feel in our guts the grinding glass shards of broken dreams. The tomorrow we awaited, and the weeks and years after that, were too fear-filled and hope-empty to wrap our brains around. We don’t even want to know what the rest of the day will hold, much less the next year.
For others, that evil day was when we drove away from a cemetery with the passenger seat empty of the love of our lives. The one who shared our memories has become a memory. And we’re left with a hole in the heart out of which pours grief and anger and innumerable other agonies of irreplaceable loss. We don’t even want to know how we’re going to lay in bed alone that night, much less face a future without the one with whom we shared a past.
I don’t know your story, but you have one. We all do. Broken relationships, broken hearts, broken promises, broken bodies—they all melt into the ink of tears with which we write our stories. And the blank pages yet to be written frighten us most.
Reading back over the last 10+ years of my life—years that were punctuated with losses I never dreamed I’d experience—I’m so grateful that God didn’t give me the gift of foresight. It would have been a curse. Nor do I want to know what’s ahead of me on the path I walk now. Maybe it’s good, maybe it’s bad. It’s probably a cocktail of both.
I can say this: as I read back over those years, I'm reminded of the Portuguese proverb, “God writes straight with crooked lines.” I stumbled down labyrinthine paths, crawled in and out of cavernous pits, got lost a million times, and somehow ended up a little farther down the road to healing. Yet in all those crooked lines I see the hand of God writing straight.
We can’t see how God's plan is unfolding in our lives. We’ll never understand why some things happen. All we know is that they did. They ultimately did because we’re deeply flawed people, living shoulder-to-shoulder with others who are screw ups, and we’re all limping through life in a world where stupid and senseless things happen with predictable regularity. There are crooked lines crowding every inch of our globe.
But the hand that writes straight with these crooked lines has everlasting scars that tell the tale of crucified love. Every labyrinthine path, in every cavernous pit, wherever we’re lost, there’s a God of compassion hot on our heels. He’s leading us into death and life again. He kills and makes alive. And it hurts, sometimes it hurts like hell, but mixed with the hurt is the healing blood of God, every drop shed for us.
That blood of Jesus painted the ground beneath the cross. These crimson, crooked lines write straight these words: All for you.
Chad’s new book, Night Driving: Notes from a Prodigal Soul, will be released in just three more weeks, on October 11. Pre-order your copy at Amazon.
Chad is an author and speaker who's devoted to honest Christianity that addresses the raw realities of life with the liberating Gospel of Jesus Christ. Chad has served as a pastor and assistant professor of OT theology, contributed hymns to the Lutheran Service Book, and cohosts the podcast “Forty Minutes in the OT.” He holds Master's degrees from Concordia Theological Seminary and Hebrew Union College. In addition to writing the books, Christ Alone and The Infant Priest, he has contributed articles to Modern Reformation, The Federalist, Concordia Pulpit Resources, and other journals. His new book with Eerdmans, Night Driving: Notes from a Prodigal Soul, is now available for pre-order at Amazon. His writings and other resources can be found at his website, chadbird.com. Chad and his wife, Stacy, enjoy life together in the Texas Hill Country.