Lines are a huge part of my life. Let me explain.
In snowboarding you can sit at the top of the mountain on a powder day and pick your line of descent. You carefully determine where you can gain speed, where you need to maintain speed and where you can launch off of stuff, hucking your body into the brisk mountain air with no regard. When you get to the bottom of the mountain you can turn around while you’re waiting in line for the next chair and see every second of your line carved into the mountain as if were a hot knife in butter. Picking the wrong line can ruin a ride, day, or life.
At work I am constantly working in between the legal lines to keep my loans in compliance while doing the best job I can for my clients while keeping the bank’s best interest in mind at all times. Some loan officers blur these lines in pursuit of attaining their annual goals. This ultimately causes damage to the bank, the client, and ultimately the loan officer as they are almost always fired when they are found out. Blurring the lines can ruin a career.
A line I am comfortable with is toeing the line of a race start. Gently stepping up and inching your racing flats to the start line and placing them as close to the line’s edge in order to gain that extra millimeter advantage. Oh the exhilaration of waiting on the gun to sound, knowing your hard work and dedication is about to payoff on the race course, is a feeling unlike any other. You know that the pain is coming. You also know that if you go just one percent further into that pain zone, you ultimately will beat 99% of your competitors. Stepping to that line without following your training plan always leads to an unsatisfactory race day.
Then there is my favorite line of all. My fishing line. When I fly fish I am in constant pursuit of the perfect angle of my line. I am continuously taking care of the mends in the line while it is on the water. All the while worrying about the clarity of my line as I try to gently set it down on the water’s surface. I always know where my line is. Not knowing and controlling every possible thing about your line can lead to you spooking a fishing hole and thus scaring any potential fish from biting for an undetermined amount of time.
The common theme is respect the line. Just about every teacher, friend, friend’s mom, girlfriend’s dad, and probably every relative told me that I was always two steps over the line. My stories, my jokes, my actions have always been over the line. I took pride in it and it fed itself. The more over the line the greater my stories became. Everyone thought I was an adventurous daredevil, a rebel, or dare I say an idiot?
Well as it turns out I am none of the above. I am a very, wait for it, calculated planner. When I was younger I planned my life. In my mind’s eye I pictured myself standing on the line looking forward, never back. The line ahead of me trails off into the horizon. There are bends. There are ups and downs and there is a glowing finish. It is a vision that I have had most of my life. Maybe I saw it on a Hallmark card, a cartoon, or some power point presentation. Either way, it really got stuck in my head. The line is very smooth because it is very calculated. Watch, I would graduate high school, leave Fort Morgan and graduate college, move to the city, get a job, then get my MBA while moving up the corporate ladder all the while enjoying life, making very calculated investments. I would push one to two steps off the line constantly weighing the risks and rewards of straying from my predetermined course. Sure there would be ups and downs but if I stayed close to the line things would ultimately be fine. It sounds ridiculous but I planned every single step of my life. Work and travel, then settle down and get married at 35. I would have kids, work until 55-60 when I would take an early retirement and retire with my wife to the mountains while my kids finished high school. Silly right? It gets so much worse. I had my death and my funeral planned. No joke! Always living today while preparing for tomorrow. Constantly weighing the risks and rewards. I literally thought if I just keep my head down and mind my own business nothing bad can happen. All of it calculated and connected by my predetermined decisions. My path. My life. My line.
Our family’s current ordeal has caused me to doubt past decisions, doubt my reality, doubt myself and doubt my future. The “what if” game is a trap. It leads you into a very deep, dark place. The “woe is me” game is even worse. At the end up the day when you are finished playing you just feel worse and nothing has changed. This leads a person nowhere and nothing good comes of it. When I finished playing these games, I looked down and I could not find my line. It is gone. I am off course. Who the hell is manning the ship and how am I going to make that funeral if there is no line to follow? Come on people. Back to the common theme, respect the line!
You realize I am the epitome of a fool. All of those years of planning could never prepare me for what God has planned for me. I was never going to be allowed to follow my own path. The fact that I called it my path should tell you what type of an idiot I was. I was never on my path. I was on God’s path all along. What the heck was I thinking? My line trumps God’s plan? Think about how silly that sounds.
All throughout the Bible it reads of proof of my ignorance.
Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. Proverbs 19:21 ESV
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5 ESV
The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps. Proverbs 16:9 ESV
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11New International Version (NIV)
Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment. A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion. When wickedness comes, contempt comes also, and with dishonor comes disgrace. The words of a man’s mouth are deep waters; the fountain of wisdom is a bubbling brook. It is not good to be partial to the wicked or to deprive the righteous of justice. … Proverbs 18:1-24 ESV
So what does all this mean? Some may think it means you can throw caution to the wind and release yourself of cares, responsibilities, and consequences because if it is meant to be then it will happen by God’s will. That is a very tricky slope and it could end you up on the wrong end of any line. Maybe a prison photo line. Maybe the bankruptcy line. You get it. Listen, I cannot tell you how to live your life. I cannot tell you how to make decisions. I will tell you what I am going to do. I will trust in the Lord in making my decisions going forward. This is a concept my wife is completely familiar with as she employed this tactic most of her life. She has been praying on decisions most of her life. No only praying but not acting until she receives a response. God does not necessarily answer when we ask the first time. This is especially though for me. What if I am told I can never get that cabin? Why would I decide this is my new course of action? History, the Bible, tells us my forging ahead with my line was wrong as:
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. Psalm 32:8 ESV
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. James 1:5 ESV
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11 ESV
And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left. Isaiah 30:21 ESV
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV
As I watch my brave son who had more than 20 lines connected to him to keep him alive, make gradual progress and get line after line removed I am reminded to respect the line. I will adhere to my running, fishing, snowboarding, and working lines because those are necessary to be successful at my job and my hobbies. I am going to disregard my line. It was foolish. Here is a thought, maybe God allowed this to happen to get me off of the line and onto his line. I won’t know until the funeral. I hope God does not have that planned in my near future.