By Jennifer Johnson
One of the worst things you can say to a stepparent who is trying to deal with the complications and stresses of a blended family is, “You knew about the kids when you got married.” When you say this you are implying, of course, that because we knew these children existed and had spent time with them, we should also have known what it would be like to share a bathroom with them and teach them to drive and enforce deodorant-wearing rules and be the only adult home when they run over a bunny with the lawn mower.
As my friends in Nashville say, bless your heart. We stepparents no more knew what we were getting into than you did when you brought your own children home or got married or entered the ministry or decided that black lab puppy sounded like a good idea. We make most of the most significant choices in our lives with no concept of what those decisions will mean.
Apparently God wants it this way, be-cause not only do these run-of-the-mill options come without guarantees for our run-of-the-mill lives, he also offers few sneak previews to even the exceptionally called.
We would not tell Moses, “Well, God did ask you to lead an entire nation out of slavery. You thought it would be easy?” We would not suggest to David he should have assumed his call from God would include running around the wilderness for years to escape a manic-depressive king out for blood. We would not say to Mary, “Hey, Gabriel told you Jesus was the Messiah. You should have expected a midnight escape to Egypt and a crucifixion.”
None of us, even the best among us, gets a glimpse into what even our best decisions will cost us. The same is true for Dallas Stamper; when he made a few sandwiches for a few homeless folks on a Sunday afternoon in 2002, he had no idea today he’d be leading hundreds of volunteers serving thousands of homeless people around the city, or that it would mean leaving a six-figure salary and using all his savings before it became sustainable. He simply knew, as he told me during our phone conversation, “God was with us, so we weren’t afraid.”
It’s for the best that we don’t know the future. For one thing, God designed time that way, and God only does what’s best. And if we knew what was coming, Mary might have said no to mothering the son of God, and Moses and David might have decided shepherding sounded just fine. Dallas might have chosen to take a nap that Sunday afternoon, I might have reconsidered stepping into stepmothering, and we all would have missed out on the growth that comes only from walking by faith.
Following God’s lead doesn’t guarantee a pleasant journey, but it does mean we get a Traveling Companion. Whether we’re packing sandwiches or picking up bunny parts, we don’t have to be afraid.