Serendipity

My wife, Laura, and I had the good fortune of being able to travel west to Montana in July and enjoy the amazing beauty of Glacier National Park where we have come to love the wildness and magnificence of the mountains and forests. It was wonderful trip.

On one particularly rainy day, Laura and I decided to travel from the east side of Glacier Park to the west side of Glacier Park to pick up a few things we needed. We decided to travel to west via Route 2, just south of the Park, and return by way of the Going to the Sun Road, a gorgeous road that winds its way through the middle of the park. On our way over, as we were driving through a very steeply forested hills, I caught a movement coming toward the left side of our car. I quickly braked and then, to my great surprise, saw a beautiful young female wolf slow down and move around the back of our car, across the road, and down into the forest on the other side. I could hardly believe my eyes!

When I recovered from the shock of seeing a wolf in the wilderness, I noticed a small pickup truck behind me had stopped as well….So I drove on to a pull-off area a short way up the highway to let the pickup truck pass by. When I did, the pickup truck also pulled off and pulled up beside me. There was a young Native American man driving the truck who rolled down his window…as I did ours…and said to us, “I’m so glad you pulled off the road so we can share this moment with one another!” With that, we proceeded to talk about our experience of seeing the wolf, how unusual it was to see a wolf, especially in the daytime, and what the symbol of the wolf means in Native American spirituality. The young man told us he was leaving for a 4-day personal retreat and that seeing the wolf was a special sign to him.

When we were back on the road again, Laura and I talked about how serendipitous and meaningful it was to share the wolf moment with this total stranger. We were aware of how the brief sharing and telling of the story together connected us to one another in a significant way which made the wolf experience even more real and more significant. It was a special time.

Reflecting on this now, I think being part of a community, in particular a church community, does this for us. It gives us a place where our common story is told and shared, and thus made more real and significant.

Blessings….Bob Livingston

Trust

The last year has been a year of uncertainty for us.  Interviews for different residency programs started in October.   My husband traveled to many different cities, figuring out what a life in that program – a life in that city – might look like for us.  As we narrowed down his top choices, I visited several places.  Again, trying to figure out what a life in that city would hold.  It was not until the end of March that we found out where life would take us next, where God would take us next.  Once we knew that we would be moving to Ann Arbor, more uncertainty followed.  Where would we live? What would my job be like? Will we make friends?  How will we get there? It was time to make plans, but we wanted to do that faithfully, taking steps that would glorify God.  We prayed a lot and tried to figure out what trust really meant.

What I’ve learned is that trust is deeply tied to surrender.  Surrendering control. Surrendering my own ideas of what my life should look like. Surrendering my desires to know what lies ahead.  It has been more than just trusting that God has a plan for my life. It has been believing in my core that God will work for my good – in the big events and the little details – and that he will provide. 

This year I tried to do my part. We toured the city and looked for houses and I applied for jobs. However, once I felt that I had done all I could, I had to practice surrender. Every day I had to practice surrender, trusting that God would provide for us.  I’ve had to admit to myself that God really does know better than I do and He will take care of me.

Since we’ve been here, I’ve been able to see God’s faithfulness in so many ways.  We are living in a home that we love and I ended up here at First Congregational Church. I find it funny and ironic that when I worked to surrender my plans to God, he placed me in His house, serving His people, for His glory every day. 

Sometimes when we grasp so tightly to our own desires, we miss out on opportunities that God has waiting for us.  We don’t leave room for his grace or the fullness of life he has in store for us.  The maker of the heavens wants to hold us in his hands and take us through this life, we just have to surrender and trust that he will be faithful and provide.