I started a weekly bible study at church recently. Now this isn’t the sort of thing I’m likely to do. It’s not so much that it’s a bible study, or that it’s at church. It’s more that it’s a social affair. It means gathering with and opening up to people. Women people. Christian women people.
But not looking at that same mountain, seeing something different, doing something differently means taking an entirely different path.
So I braced myself. I breathed deep. And I went.
At one of our first meetings I walked in and noticed a tray filled with various seemingly unrelated items sitting on the table. There was a flashlight, a sheep figurine, a bullhorn, a rock, a rubber band, a cell phone, a cup, an acorn, a cork, and numerous other items.
After hellos and introductions and prayer the host asked us to each take one item from the tray that most closely represented where we were in our faith at that moment.
The tray began passing opposite me. I would choose last.
I watched as some chose immediately, others hemmed and hawed a moment before choosing. As the tray drew closer I could see the items remaining. I was drawn to the acorn.
I wanted to be a seed, a seed planted and growing, its roots taking hold. Deep. Secure.
At my turn I picked up that acorn, curled my fingers around it.
But it wasn’t right. It didn’t feel right. Something wasn’t agreeable. Inside.
I gazed across the table to the tray, fixed on the cork.
No, I thought. No. I am the acorn. The seed. I’ll grow.
But my eyes looked back to the cork. She asked where we were, not where we wanted to be. I reached over and let the acorn roll from my palm. I picked up the cork.
Several years ago in a therapy session the counselor said to me: “You don’t want to change. Not really.”
What? How could she say such a thing? Why would she say such a thing? Of course I wanted to change. Why else would I be sitting there letting her peel me like an onion, layer by aching layer?
Oh, but I was peeved. What did she know, anyway. She certainly didn’t know me. Not one little bit. I quit.
Fast forward a year or two: a different time, a different state, a different counselor.
Same problems. Same words.
“Brenda, you don’t want to change. Not really.”
The wall went up, the door slammed. My defenses blared. Code red.
She continued: “You’ve got to let go, but you refuse. You like being right where you are.”
Oh! No! I did not like this sadness, this turmoil. I didn’t like it one little bit.
She pressed on: “You simply know nothing else. To change means moving into the unknown. But you’re perfectly content right where you are. It’s comfortable.”
Though I didn’t realize it then, she was right. Right on the money. Right as rain.
I rolled the cork between my fingers, felt its rough yet pliable texture. Yes, this was right. I chose correctly.
As each lady described her item; how like a sheep she is part of His flock, how like the flashlight she wants to be a light in the darkness, how the phone keeps her connected to her Lord
I nearly took up the acorn again.
But my turn came and I swallowed. I breathed deep. And I spoke:
“I would like to be like the acorn, but I’m not. Instead I’m a bottle, a vessel full up with my past. I keep my hurts deep and close. I cling to them, collect them, gather them up like years. Then I close up, close off. I put the cap on, push the cork in deep, so deep nothing seeps out. So tight nothing gets in. I long to be the acorn. I long to take root in something rich and nourishing, growing, flourishing. I long to be a display of His splendor. That’s where I want to be.”
But that would mean facing the unknown. That would mean doing things differently. That would mean letting go
and letting God.
So here I am pulling the cork and tipping over. Here I am spilling out. Here I am letting go. And it’s comfortable.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of his splendor.