It was bound to happen. Sometime last week, the newness of summer vacation wore off, and the sunshine somehow seemed less glittery.
“I’m bored,” a skinny arm stretched to cover his blue eyes.
“Me too.” The two brothers plopped onto the tired, creaky porch swing. “Mom, can we just watch TV? Is it Shark Week, yet?”
This is usually the moment when I, exasperated from the navigation and captaining of the proverbial Family Summer Party Cruise Ship, abruptly dock the boat and scream for everyone to swab the deck or walk the plank. “Clean your rooms! Pick up sticks! Water the chickens!” But something stopped me. I feigned ignorance of their emotions and requests and resumed the rhythmic picking of blueberries and plunking of handfuls into a bucket.
Between all the practices, lessons, chores, to-do’s, buzzing notifications, ringing and dinging gadgets, who gets to be bored anymore? What if we stepped back to consider the holiness in the unplanned?
To know me is to know how much I love a schedule. In premarital counseling, the preacher dissected my affinity of calendars to say that I go so far as to “plan my leisure.” It was a new concept to him and Wade, though I find solidarity with the mothers who are already stocking the homeschool shelves and dreaming of new agendas. But as we’ve gradually unplugged and unenrolled, I’ve started to appreciate what happens in the unplanned moments. Children become like Pinocchio when he was loved to life. The puppets of too many plans and overscheduled days become boys, real boys!
Camouflaged by blueberry bushes, they soon forgot Shark Week and me and started to talk about their favorite World War II planes and what dinosaur would win in an epic battle between an Allosaurus and a something-else-asaurus. Then they were off on a grand adventure to the pond.
Unplanned. Admittedly, I’ve been slow to hand my calendar to the One that was in the beginning, is now, and forever shall be. It’s difficult to confess, but I’ve hesitated to trust God with my time. We’re told we only get eighteen summers with our children, so we pack all the Mouse-Ear vacations and Memory Makers into every season, but what if we woke up each morning and handed God back the day? Does He not promise to do much with our little?
The press on parents today is that if we don’t schedule something for every moment, then our children won’t succeed, be stimulated, or satisfied. They’ll get into trouble. They’ll be behind. They’ll have missed out. But what if we never hand our plans to God? What if we cling so tightly to our hopes for our children, that the Good Father is never allowed to instruct His sons and daughters in freedom? In love? In crosses?
All throughout Scripture, God shows Himself in unexpected places, people, and events. Remember how He revealed Himself to Abraham and Sarah in their old age, to Balaam in a donkey, to Daniel in the lion’s den, to Jacob in a wrestling match, to Moses in a bush, to Samuel calling in the night, to Peter from the shore of Galilee, to Joseph in a dream, to Mary in the miraculous pregnancy. May we model her response to the unplanned which was to give the Lord her everything, her “Yes” (her Fiat), to Jesus. It changed the world forever.
Like beads of a rosary, I continued to pluck blueberries and pray for help. Help for me to trust Him when He says, “I know the plans I have for you…for hope and for a future,” that His ways are not my ways, and that His love is without measure… for me, and my children.
My prayers were interrupted, but today I welcome such perfectly unplanned interjections: “Mom! Take a picture of this bass! It was like Jaws to that rubber worm!”
Shark Week begins July 23rd. We can’t wait.