06 August 2010

My Best-Laid Plans... And the Better Things That Come

I'm not supposed to be home this weekend.

I had fully intended to be at Hutchmoot 2010 right now. I had dreamed, schemed, planned, and budgeted for it. I had even gotten my boss's permission to take the day off even though we would be understaffed without me.

All that remained, in short, was to actually buy the tickets, and maybe check out some of the recommended reading material from my local library. Annie Dillard, C. S. Lewis, Flannery O'Connor, Walt Wangerin, Jr., and many others were to be there in printed form, and Wangerin was also slated to show up in person. And, of course, the icing on the cake: Andrew Peterson, Ben Shive, Andy Gullahorn, and other great musicians. Literature, music, and late-night desserts and coffee with some of the most interesting people one could wish to meet.

So why am I sitting at home this evening instead of being spiritually, aesthetically, and intellectually fed at Hutchmoot 2010? Honestly, I'm not quite sure. Maybe bad luck, maybe poor planning, maybe my no-good pig-stealing great-great-grandfather.

Here's how it happened:

May 5, 2010
I learn about Hutchmoot 2010 on The Rabbit Room, which has recently become one of my must-read blogs. It sounds great: Discussions about art and aesthetics with other Christians who care about those things. And not only that, but also a chance for really good seats at the release concert for Andrew Peterson's Counting Stars album. And not only that, but an opportunity to meet some of the people whose writing I have admired for some time.

Awesome, right? I start to align the stars in my mini-firmament: planning, scheming, crunching the numbers to figure out how I will pay for the expedition to Nashville, and even obtaining a co-conspirator to go with me.

It takes me a couple of weeks to obtain buyoff from all the stakeholders (especially my sweet spouse and my boss), but soon, I am ready.

May 14, 2010
I am over at a friend's house for the evening. I have finalized my plans and am ready to register. I am on my friend's computer, just about to pay the registration fee, when my phone rings.

It's my wife, calling to see if I spent several hundred dollars at iPath Footwear. I haven't.

I also haven't spent a hundred dollars at HomeShoppingNetwork.com or a couple hundred to purchase a subscription to a scholarly journal.

Needless to say, I do not register for Hutchmoot 2010 this evening. Instead, I spend quite a bit of time checking my bank account and cancelling my debit card.

May 17, 2010
After using my lunch and breaks to get things straightened out with my debit card, I come home from work and prepare to register for the event. Then, I see this:
Update 3:40pm: The Hutchmoot is now full. If you missed your chance this year, we hope to see you in 2011.
Proverbs 13:12 says, "Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life." That's about how I was feeling after coming home to that announcement on May 17.

And if that had been the end of the story, I can imagine myself being a little bit bitter, angry that someone else's sinful behavior had made me miss something I was really looking forward to.

But fortunately, there's more (as there always is). Romans 8:28-30 says,
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.
In other words, no matter how I feel about what's happening, I can rest assured that I will benefit from it. The work described in verses 29-30 is not always pleasant, but nonetheless, it's exciting to know that almighty God is working on ME. He has a goal for me and is using every single thing that happens in my life to move me closer to that goal.

So that's the first good thing that comes from this event: I can be sure that, one way or another, this is leading me closer to glorification with Christ. But there are so many other blessings that have come from this weekend at home:
  • A co-worker of mine got to leave early when he needed to on Friday, since I wasn't going to be gone after all
  • I had a delightful date with my wife and baby at various art galleries, followed by a delicious dinner and cuddling at home
  • We had a great time at a good friend's daughter's first birthday party in Kansas City on Saturday
  • On our way home, we stopped through our old college town for shopping and sushi
  • We got to see my brother's wonderful family Saturday night since they came over to our house for baths (their tub was being painted)

In short, it was a great weekend of growing closer to my wife and son and enjoying our family and the blessings God has given us. And if my debit card information hadn't been stolen on May 14, I would have missed out on all this great stuff!

All of this just demonsrates once again a lesson that I have had a very hard time learning: my disappointment isn't the end of good things. In fact, it seems like what comes after the disappointment is even better than what I had planned for myself.

To the person who thwarted my dreams of Hutchmoot 2010 by obtaining my card information and using it to buy fancy shoes and scholarly journals: I forgive you. If I may paraphrase Joseph in Genesis 50:20, you may have meant this thing for evil, but God meant it for good.

05 August 2010

The Boy and the Cars

There are some advantages to living by a busy street. For instance, the street can entertain my son when I don't feel like it...