Lines are part of our lives. We are encouraged as children to stay in lines—whether it is walking in a line to the school cafeteria or coloring a picture or arranging our desks in the classroom. Lines are good. Lines give us order, boundaries, certainty.
As an accounting student, I learned that lines had meaning—a single underline meant a subtotal while a double underline signaled balance and a final total. Numbers were in columns, vertical lines providing order and readability.
In geometry, I learned that the shortest distance between two points was a straight line. Our culture of productivity seems to thrive on straight line thinking and the efficiency it represents. But life cannot always be lived in a straight line. On a recent flight, I noticed the curves of one particularly curvy river. Back and forth it curved, almost meeting itself, carving out land that looked like light bulbs. Hills and valleys, contours of uneven land create the curves and bends in a river, just as they change the direction and perspective of our lives.
Hills, valleys, curves—all lend a sense of expectancy, surprise, and mystery to our lives. When we can’t see what’s around the bend, over the mountain, or in the valley, we have to move forward without a clear vision of the future, even if that future is only a few moments ahead of us. While that can make us anxious or uncertain, it can also fill us with anticipation and excitement in a way that a straight road on flat land cannot.
I wonder if our Creating God created curves and hills, bends and valleys so we would learn to walk by faith and so we would not always be so darn efficient that we miss the joy of surprise and anticipation and expectancy. If you’ve ever driven a curvy mountain road, you know that you can’t drive it as fast as a flat, straight stretch of interstate highway. Maybe that’s the point. By navigating the curved lines of our lives, we learn to slow down and appreciate the unpredictability of our path. With faith, we can move to and through the unknown curves because we know who has drawn the curved lines of our lives.