Several decades ago I was young and played games. One that I enjoyed was called Stadium Checkers. The object was to move your colored marbles from the outside ring into the center by adjusting the concentric rings and letting gravity do its work. The marbles would roll around the ring and then, at just the right place, would click down to the next inner ring.
I have thought of this game many times since I was a kid. It always jumps to mind when I think about the plans and purposes of God: his will, my life, grace, and serendipity.
My wife and I have prayed that God would always go ahead of us. We don't like to push our way into his will. We try to keep ourselves from telling God what to do. We want to be followers of Jesus, which means he's out in front calling the shots. We try, sometimes failing, to take the trail he gives us. We pray that he will pick the trail before we get there, that we will not ask his blessing on trails we've already taken. The issue is trust.
Sometimes it's been frustrating. Sometimes exhilarating. Sometimes we haven't done so well, sneaking up and running ahead. It shows the weakness of our faith to say we have been surprised when God shows up in front of us on the trail and we look back and discover that he had been leading us all along, even when we thought we were on our own. The last three years have been like that.
We keep moving to the pull of gravity, marbles in concentric wheels, waiting for a divine turn to bring the planets of our circumstances into alignment.
Last weekend I was asked to speak at a retreat for pastors and their spouses. I was nervous. My heart has been burning for this opportunity - a pilot light inside me waiting to ignite for men and women with a mantle like mine. I knew what God had given me to say, born out of my circumstance, and I was frightened about delivering the message. I expected some resistance, because years ago I would have been the Chief of Resistors.
Instead, the marbles clicked. What God had provided in my heart sparked discussion, introspection, perhaps healing. As at other times when this has happened, he told my heart that it was his business to move the rings; I just needed to wait on him and let divine gravity take its course.
I'm writing this listening to Ashley Cleveland belt out "Precious Lord, Take My Hand." I am writing this in the unsteady place - I feel the rings are moving, the marble is about to drop, gravity will have its way. Scary, but thrilling.
You move the rings. I will rest here. When and if it is time, help me not to resist the pull of your purpose. I entrust my marble-self to your skillful hand, your strategic mind, your grace-filled turning of the years.