When I was young, my adventure-loving Dad would buckle me into the passenger side of his red pickup truck and we would drive. From Southern California we could be in a number of places in a single day or less. My favorite was when we would drive all day; I’d fall asleep sometime after the sun set and wake up in the mountains of Colorado or the desert of Texas or sometimes in the middle of the sea of high-rise buildings in San Francisco. It never occurred to me until middle adulthood that I don’t think Dad slept, ever. He ran on coffee and either Keith Green or talk radio while I slept.
When I was awake, we talked about a myriad of topics. Dad taught me to define why I like the things I liked for three reasons. He said “just because” was fine for ice cream and socks but to succeed in life you had to be passionate and speak with authority on three points that made any like worth liking. He said if I could give people three reasons I liked something then I could reasonably argue that my point of view was worth winning others over to. I thought he knew everything, so I turned a keen listening ear and learned how to argue my three points with articulation.
Points of Three
Early on I was a like a bird spray sprinkler—I ticked out my three points systematically and in a forward-moving direction. I was filled with opinion and would project my point of view far and wide. When I was done Dad would look at me and then ask me to wait while he thought. He was a toothpick man, or equally a straw man, either instrument always hanging from the side of his mouth with an occasional pick of the teeth; it usually was something to occupy his anxiety because he had so much to think about, and formulating what to say came with delay.
I learned over time that the delay was my dad talking to God about the topic. I also learned to give him the time to do so if I wanted a rich and full conversation. If I pressed him for a response when he was not ready, he was quick tempered and sharp tongued, and I would often dissolve into a puddle of tears. But when he had time to think and God had time to soften his defensiveness, we would have a full bouquet of a conversation with bright colors, needling debate, crisp calibration of thoughts, and fragrant feelings.
This skill, if you will, of being able to talk in three points about nearly anything has served me well; I am thankful to my dad for that. I do this so naturally now that I often laugh aloud when I realize I’m convincing myself, or someone else, of something in points of three.
God’s Will, Timing, & Provision
A particular case of this occurred a few years ago. My family was in a season of transition, and a good work friend found me at lunch one afternoon. He sat down and, upon hearing the news that we were moving out of state, asked, “Really?” It was a defining moment for me. I had not thought this person would be the one to question our decision. When all I was looking for was support, it created a split second of doubt, both in the friendship and asking myself if we were doing the right thing. It created that kind of moment where your whole body freezes, your cheeks start to tingle, and your eyes can bore a hole through steel. I wanted to light him up with argument and accusation for questioning me and my family’s prayerful decision. After all, he was a linchpin in the narrative of my current circumstance and the idea that he would then question the door God has obviously opened was astounding. But I pivoted in that moment away from an explosive response and said to Jesus, “I’m going to need You to help me with the three, OK? Here we go.”
I turned my gaze from the table directly into his eyes and said, “Given the current set of circumstances, which you were privileged to be a part of, we are moving because we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God has called us to this place to learn, grow, and heal. And we go with anticipation of a life lived squarely in the center of God’s will, God’s timing, and God’s provision.”
The pregnant pause loomed while I secretly dared my coworker to present a compelling argument that made anything I just said false. He didn’t dare. He simply said, “OK.” Then he got up and walked away. I have wondered if Dad had been at that table if he would have given me a high five or if he would have said I was too brash. Either way, he would have affirmed the use of three and then made me explain to him God’s will, timing, and provision.
Jesus at the Center
You see, God’s will, timing, and provision are only possible with our ability to seek, surrender, and seal Jesus in our heart. I have been seeking Jesus on my own since college, and He delights my heart because when I seek Him, I find Him, or rather I believe He shows up. When I posture my heart to have eyes for Jesus, I truly see Him everywhere. This requires a surrender of my isolated thinking by talking to Him about being the center of everything I think, feel, and do.
I have checkpoints all over my daily life to cultivate this kind of thinking. In college I put a handmade sign on my alarm clock that read, “Good Morning, Lord!” and I couldn’t help but acknowledge Him, even if it was a grunt, when my alarm would come alive in repetitive jingle to wake me from too few hours of sleep. But it taught my heart to start my very first thoughts with gratefulness to be alive, thankfulness to need to get up to go to work and class, and awareness to invite Jesus to lead my day. I then always wear some kind of jewelry—earrings, rings, necklace. I tend to swirl the rings around or catch myself running my finger along my necklaces. So I taught myself that every time I catch myself doing this fidgety behavior, I would turn my heart and mind back to Jesus, have a chat with Him about whatever is happening in that moment, and ask for His will for the rest of the day. To give me eyes to see Him and follow.
The day God presented an open door to our family to move out of state, my husband and I prayed with thanksgiving for His perfect timing and provision for our family. My husband came home that night with a ring with an anchor on it, knowing I would pray when I fidgeted with it; that was so very true. I began to pray that our hearts would continue to be anchored in Jesus. I asked that He would oversee and direct every detail of the changes of moving as we navigated buying a new home sight unseen, packed our things, and uprooted to another state. The move was not flawless by any means, but it was blanketed with prayer, with excitement, with trust that the Lord is good.
This Is My Way
Moving is not for the faint of heart, but then life is not for the faint of heart. I know to my core that God weaved that chapter of our life like a hand-sewn quilt. It was a journey where He nearly handed us a map and said, This is My way, walk in it. He’s not always this clear, but that chapter was unique and His guidance was needed and treasured.
As for Dad, he is in heaven with Jesus now. I think they are having a pretty good laugh over how the lesson of threes guided my dad’s life and has shaped my life too. Jesus, one third of the trinity, has an affinity for threes, and I do as well.
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