Sights and Insights
Devotion for May 4, 2021
Seek the Lord while he may be found,
call upon him while he is near;
let the wicked forsake their way,
and the unrighteous their thoughts;
let them return to the Lord, that he may have mercy on them,
and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts. – Isaiah 55:6-9 (NRSV)
In my free time this week, I have been reading an oral history of The Improv, the famous comedy club with the brick wall background that began in the Theater District of New York in the early 1960s and has since spread to locations around the country. What is always so astounding to me in these stories of groundbreaking cultural institutions is how unplanned everything is. The Improv was started as a way for the owner to get into producing Broadway plays, and for its first decade focused more on singers than on comedians. Even the famous brick wall just happened to be in the building when the club originally opened and it was cheaper to keep it as it was than to cover it over. Rather than a master plan, the history of the club was a matter of following the openings that presented themselves.
So often we want to plan out all of the details for whatever we are doing. More often than not, though, the most powerful movements of our lives come in responding to the situations that arise. Certainly some degree of planning makes a difference in recognizing opportunities and being able to take advantage of them, but holding too tightly to our ideas and plans can leave us stuck in place.
In Christian thought, we recognize this openness to the moment as being open to the movement of the Holy Spirit. We must recognize that our vision, plans, and ideas are limited, and God often moves unexpectedly. Learning to trust that the Holy Spirit will guide us can be stressful, especially if we tend to think that we must have all of our plans worked out and followed precisely. Yet in learning to let go of those ideas we are able to focus less on ourselves and more on God and God’s will. This is part of the process of receiving grace; we must free ourselves from the tendency to want to figure it all out ourselves and instead trust that God is at work in and through us.