Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Swan Song

Sometimes, as on the competitions we see like the Voice or America’s Got Talent, judges have to choose between great and great. Both acts (sometimes multiple acts) are fantastic. Nothing wrong with either—each unique and beautiful. The old adage that in order to succeed, a person must choose between good and great is not exactly the case. Decisions aren’t always that simple, are they?

Let me ask you, friends, have you ever agonized over a decision that felt equal and you didn’t know which direction to choose? I’ve been in that place this year. I’m choosing between, not one great activity, but multiple opportunities—each uniquely great and leading in a different directions. A swan song is saying goodbye to something or someone and moving into a different direction. And no, it's never easy. Swans mourn the loss. They don't want to let go. And neither do we want to let go of the familiar.

Jeremiah 6: 16 is a very visual verse. See what you think:
This is what the Lord says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.’

As I prayed and considered my personal dreams, goals, and activities I realized something about a crossroad. It has four directions at the intersection. Think about that for a minute. I could refuse and go back. I could refuse and go back another direction. I could go forward to the right or to the left. And, I suppose, there’s a fifth choice of stand in that spot watching, doing nothing. But God doesn’t leave us standing at the crossroads. He tells us to ask and then walk. Then He promises rest for our souls—peaceful contentment. 

The people Jeremiah spoke to refused to go in the way they should and so did not find rest for their souls. But there’s a peace, an unbelievable sense of rightness when we choose the path God intends us to take. I’ve found that peace and it’s not just beautiful. Surprisingly, it’s satisfying in a way only understood through putting my foot on that path and finding it solid. I wish I could describe the “wow” factor. But then again, maybe you understand the joy and contentment while still walking toward your dream. The sense of knowing, absolutely, that you took the right road.

How do we make the tough choices?

Look at the crossroads from all directions, ask God and then ask people who have our best interest at heart and know us well.

Then ask two questions: The first question— what is my dream? 

My dream is to write books for the rest of my life and speak professionally. Signing one contract a few weeks ago, the joy bubbled up. My calendar filled. Then I considered the speaking requests. Something had to give or I’d get no sleep and have a pretty empty well to draw from for those commitments. Should I turn down a contract or speaking event? That didn’t make a lot of sense since these activities fulfill my dream.

The second question: when do I feel God’s smile?

I feel God’s smile in my heart when I’m writing books and speaking professionally. The answer to both questions became very clear for me. I need to embrace the dream by clearing away those wonderful activities that I’ve loved, but are on a different path. I need to stop getting in the way of my own dream, and possibly the dream of others. It was time to let others have a crack at those activities meant for their growth and joy, but no longer on my path.

I’d arrived at a crossroad where each direction is great. I held up my map, the way to my dream. Only one path leads me in the direction, the way I should go. The vision I’ve had since youth (the ancient way, as the verse says, because it has always been my dream). If the activity was great, but not drawing me in the right direction, then it’s not on the map. I have to let it go. Over the summer I’ve backed out of several email lists and resigned from some positions I really enjoyed. I’m on the right road because I’m reading the map.

Ultimately, the choice must be made by following the map to the dream, not the greatness of the activity. They may be landmarks, rest stops, and beautiful experiences. But they are not the destination.

And so I leave you with the simplicity of a map to your dream.

You are at a crossroad. Hold up the map.
What is your dream?
When do you feel God’s smile?
Walk in that way and feel peace.


  1. good things to consider, Angie. thanks for the scripture & your insight.

  2. Angie - you can never go wrong when following the path the Lord has mapped for your life.