If you want to grow anything worthwhile, it's all about the soil. That's why you have to rotate the crops from time to time. Anything that stays in the same soil too long withers and eventually dies. I think people are the same way. If we stay too long in the same soil, we start to dry up inside. Soon, there's nothing left but the shell, and after a while, even that goes.God alone knows what the thing to wake us up will be. I've had a few this week (who knows yet if I'm done; the week has a few days left to surprise me), and each successive event evokes a "how did things get here?" response from me, alongside a tension I can feel in my stomach when I think about the road forward. When there are blank spaces to fill by imagination, it's easy to fill them with anything but a steady, sure trust in God's faithfulness.
If we do the same things, in the same way, over and over, in time, we fall asleep in our own lives. Until something happens to wake us up. That's when, like any living thing, you have to take yourself out of where you are and put yourself back where you should be, where you started off before you fell asleep. You have to rotate back to fertile ground…to the soil that nourished you…back to the earth.
—Jonathan Kent, Superman #700 (by J. Michael Straczynski)
For me, as a person whose only hope is in Jesus (which I honestly believe is an accurate description of everyone), that place of faith is exactly where I need to be. I'm thankful for the wake-up calls, even those I'd not have chosen, because they're really calls to a reality that's always been present—I've just forgotten in my complacency. And that reality, that my life and its outcomes are fully dependent on Him, isn't just true; it's also deeply good.
Those wake-up calls often invite me not only to think back and remember God's faithfulness, but often to go back to where I was "before I fell asleep." The prospect of going back is dicey business theologically; God's plan for His people isn't a return to Eden, and a lot of sin and folly comes with trying to do so. But my memory is also a gift, a part of the image of God, and He can remind me of the ways I've forgotten my first love as well as restore than love, covering my unfaithfulness with His steadfast love, which endures forever. Sometimes it helps for even my flesh to remember, to get out of my current ruts (which may be filled with good things that have gotten out of whack) and return to some of the basics.
That's a tall order when burdened with sorrow and fear, when shadows are allowed to occupy all the empty spaces of my imagination. Growth may be facilitated by discipline, but it isn't discipline in and of itself—it is a gift of God, not the invention of any man. So I need to ask for it, to wait for it, to hope for it, to expect it based on God's love, goodness, and sovereignty, and in the meantime, put myself back where I should be.