I’ve been reading a lot lately. I’ve also been thinking in lines of poetry. I believe it’s evidence of the way my brain is turning and reading helps to calm it down. The “poetry line thoughts” are my mind’s way of releasing emotion that it can’t play with in real life. But reading, it’s stress-reducing. In non-fiction, it imparts knowledge of what we care to learn about. Between the pages of fiction, it’s an escape to another world and a way to jump into a narrative that’s not our own.
I saw a prayer on a page recently that I was struck by. It was in an A.W. Tozer book where a man prayed a prayer I thought he should be nervous—almost afraid—of. He prayed, “Oh God, bend me, bend me, bend me.” In that prayer, I saw words that could rightfully line my thoughts on the path through God’s will and the uncomfortable direction of my future…a future that could rightfully make me nervous—almost afraid.
In all honestly, I am a pretty stubborn wall of rocks when it comes to almost anything at all. It’s taken me months to break up with some of my bright ideas about what my days, nights, education, career, relationships, reading list, schedule, writing voice, writing subjects, and more will be. I’ve worked hard to let some feelings rise up, gave them some room, saw them take over, and then broke up with them, too. I live inside my head and only hesitantly do I obey the hunch to invite anyone in. I’ve been working on crossing the line between being more of a force in this world and being able to control what people think of my words; I’ve also dealt with the ensuing anxiety. I’ve written before about moving forward and I know that God’s vision doesn’t require for everyone to become a loud sound vibrating through the world. My life, however, will make a statement for Him and it’s going to take some bending. As another book line asked me: “When did you realize you are a voice?”
When God is bending us, the months can be marked with taking small steps of obedience and making hard, yet holy, decisions. Sometimes we envision walking by faith as making huge strides towards the highest, most godly goal in the fastest way. If we’re not careful, we can become something like a seeker, searching for a flight to anywhere. When I sense I’m being bent, I can miss being not known, not expected, not watched for, not misunderstood. I go back and forth between “His ways are not my ways” and “Or should I go?” often in these seasons.
It’s not always the physical act of running away that tempts us. It can look more like standing still and resisting the uncomfortable tug of being bent spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. It looks less like catching an actual flight and more like figuratively walking in obedience, only to discover that it’s the most painful path.
On the path to obedience, we get ideas for shortcuts. We pull over. We sit on the side of the road. We can lay our best ideas for avoiding the strain out in front of us and see that they flake in comparison to God’s plan that we can’t even see. It’s here that we do well to consider that discomfort isn’t an enemy, but a teacher.
The idea of walking an uncertain path should send us crawling to God. That’s where it sends me. God is the only One worthy of our focus when we know we’re being bent for His purposes and in every other time, too—not only because our strength isn’t enough for the journey, but because it never will be.
God promised that it would all be for our good, but there is no promise that it will always feel good. That changes my prayers to nervous ones that I would be afraid of if the results were at all up to me, and if I were walking through it alone: God, bend me to see the people who need me—the women, the teenagers, the friends fighting secret battles. Who needs to know that they’re attacked but not alone? God, bend me when reading about You is more natural than relationships that glorify You. Am I missing God’s love within my library? Oh God, bend me when my unchecked feelings and wildest dreams begin to think they have a chance against your grand plan of conforming and transforming. Is this my own understanding that I’m leaning on?
I don’t have anything deep to say; I’m simply recognizing the beauty in being bent. Our reward isn’t a ride on the soft cloud of complacency or time to rest our heads on pillows of pride. It’s not even immediate. In this most marvelous stretch, we can cling to the God of all comfort (2 Cor 1:3). We hold on tight while our perceived limits are pushed and we scratch for excitement about it. We accept that we are not the author and finisher of our faith and give up trying to pen the chapters. We bow out of making ourselves the main character in the story, and surrender to He who is writing it.