Beef Stew

Upper Catawba Falls

Many of you know I worked at a camp in North Carolina this summer, and in between each 2 week session all of the staff gets some time off. One of the in between sessions my friend Justin and I were talking about what we were gonna do today, and I asked Justin if one of our other friends was gonna join in with us as well. Justin said that he wanted to, but that he didn’t want to have to deal with trying to figure out plans or anything. I annoyingly responded, “What, does he want the day to be served to him on a silver platter?” Which led me to thinking about how, in so many ways, we seek after this life that is nicely packaged and well planned. I do this, you do this. But this is not how life works. God is a creator, an innovator, He does things that have never happened before and will never again. He keeps us on our toes, keeps teaching us, our God does not let us stay where we are. We want life to be served to us neatly on a silver platter, but it doesn’t; it more often comes to us in some strange mixture of overflowing beef stew. What I didn’t realize when I had this conversation with Justin was that God would bring me into this truth in a brand new way I did not expect (of course).

A few weeks ago, 2 of my friends from Florida came to visit all of us working at camp, so we all took the day off to go on an adventure and show our friends all of our favorite Asheville spots. We had this wonderful plan, “We’ll go do this, and then eat here, and then go do this, and then eat here, and have dessert here, and it will be perfect” was essentially what we were saying. We were truly in pursuit of a day neatly served to us on a silver platter. So all 9 of us set on our day. Our first stop was Catawba Falls. We got there and everything was going as well as it could have, we were having fun and enjoying the beautiful creation that God had blessed us with. We went to check out the top of the Upper Falls, which is around 60 feet high. The next thing that happened changed everything. One of our friends slipped into the stream at the top and went over the falls. From there we would experience an complete change in what our plans were. Thankfully our friend is still alive, but did suffer severe injuries to both feet and minor injuries to his lower back. It was 4 hours later when he was airlifted to the hospital, where my friends and I spent the rest of the day.

There is still much to be shared from this story, and what I described above is nowhere near a complete retelling. But when I look at this story and see it again and again in my mind I see a group of people in pursuit of the silver platter, and in so many ways we got the beef stew. We had all these wonderful plans, but life threw something different at us, and God perfectly used it to push us into closer association with Him and each other in a way that we wouldn’t have known if life went according to our plan. You may think that the beef stew is something to avoid and fear, containing the unknown and risk of pain. Yet, God meets us in the beef stew, He guides us and invites us to trust Him. Will there be days served on a silver platter? Yes. Will there be days where we are served a heaping bowl of beef stew? Oh there will be. God is fully present in both, fully ready to invite us into something new, something bigger.

The truth is there are a million steps, and we don’t even know what the steps are, and worse, at any given moment we may not be willing or even able to take them; and still worse, they are different for you and they are always changing. I have come to believe the sooner we will fall in love with the God who keeps shaking things up, keeps changing the path, keeps rocking the boat to test our faith in Him, teaching us to not rely on easy answers, bullet points, magic mantras, or genies in lamps, but rather in His guidance, His existence, His mercy, and His love.

Donald Miller

Rest in the uncertainty of life, and the certainty that God knows what He is doing.



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