I’ve had plans for my life for awhile now.
We’re going on a good 20 years of planning, here.
It is often different between boys and girls, but there is always that dream tucked inside of a child’s heart which beckons them towards their deepest desires and a flawless innocence that allows them the beauty of having hope in their wildest dreams. When you’re a child there really isn’t a question as to what your future is going to hold, just a solid belief in the surety of the inevitable coming of what your heart longs for.
What we find truly important alters over time as reality gradually begins to set in. I’m so thankful that the true weight of life as an adult, and all the responsibility it entails along with all the disappointments, all the brokenness, all the fears, troubles, and unknowns it encapsulates, did not overwhelm me in one sitting.
Brick by brick, God cemented one more element of the emotional, spiritual, and mental portions of life onto my frail foundation – I wish He handed me the blueprint before He began the project that is my spiritual and physical life, so I could make some better sense of what He is trying to accomplish through these layers that just seem to become heavier and heavier with each addition.
You see, I am so far away from where the 10-year old version of myself declared I would be at this point – so far it is almost comical. More days than not I am completely terrified of the future. I keep thinking I’m going to stumble upon some revelation that will give me a peaceful glimpse into the future of my hopes and find them all nicely coming together, just as I had planned. Each day that goes by, leaving me questioning and wondering what God could possibly be doing with me, brings a little more fear, a little more anxiety, a little more uncertainty, and a little more dread that He doesn’t desire to bless me with the fulfillment of my deepest longings.
It is, quite honestly, a daily battle that I have to lay down over and over and over again. Some days there is a perpetual cycle of fears swirling through my thoughts on a constant basis.
I don’t know how to master this, and if I’m being honest, I really don’t think that I can.
Just as there are moments of genuine fear, disappointment, and mild panic at what lies ahead (and what DOESN’T lie ahead), there are also many many beautiful, peace-filled moments of intense surety that regardless of where the next turn does or does not take me, it is going to be perfectly meant for incapable me, and it is going to be beautifully designed for this once-flawed-now-redeemed heart – it will lack nothing that God desires to come to pass and if I am seeking Him first it will not encase any thing that should never take up residence in the first place.
I’m working on giving it all back to God.
I have come to the understanding that you can have all the confidence in the world in God’s might, power, and ability – you can know without a doubt that He is capable of anything – He is able to do and bring to pass whatever He wants, and yet not trust Him.
Or, better yet, you can believe all those things for other people, but not trust that God would ever move a mountain for you, or pour a blessing for you, or want to give you the fulfillment of your desires – maybe other people, but not you – and you don’t even need to be cynical or angry to think this way.
I am currently going through the mill of the process of admitting I trust God for other people, but I don’t trust Him for myself, and that it has nothing to do with Him burning me in the past – it is simply because I am flawed, weak, and afraid, and those are not attributes of someone who has confidence in a God molding her future.
As a Christian, though, my life is literally not my own, and the more I embrace what Jesus did for me, the more joy and pleasure builds up at the beauty of giving my life that was spared by His hands and feet, back to Him, and sitting back to enjoy the ride and chance for kingdom things to be worked out through this seemingly small life of mine.
I have found that there are some things, and really – most things – that I wrestle and struggle with because every aspect of me trying to rid them out of my life is based on my own efforts. I’m arm wrestling with Goliath rather than utilizing the resources offered me to actually pick up the stones and kill the demon and let die the taunting echoes.
The times I have peace are the times that I am overwhelmed by knowing just how much God loves me, just how great the lengths are that He has gone to prove it, and just how diligent He is in keeping me and leading me towards His very best.
He withholds no good thing from those He loves. (Ps 84:11)
I cannot make peace happen in my life by pretending I don’t have certain desires or certain fears – that will just lead to more unease and even greater consistency in my worries.
All I can do is constantly – over and over and over again hand over to Him my anxieties, my hopes, my fears, my longings – and ask Him to do what He wills.
All I can do is put on repeat in my mind the many promises and truths about what He actually feels towards me.
If my mindset truly is that what I desire for my life is what He desires – eternal things – than my focus and fulfillment shifts and satisfaction and rest fill in all the cracks because He is worth more than any ounce of satisfaction being met here on earth.
A lesson I have been learning this past year – the right now is preparing us for the next.
We cannot get to tomorrow without going through today.
Every aspect of where you are right now is getting you ready for where you’re going to be – no matter how mundane it feels, or how painful it is, or how desperate your situation is.
He is teaching me to remain and He is teaching me that it is good and that it has eternal value.
Paul talks about how it is good for a man to remain as he is – in this specific instance he is referring to marriage, but I don’t believe it rings true for marriage only.
It is good for us to remain in God’s will regardless of what that entails – if that means sticking to a 9-5 and holding fast amidst the seemingly mundane, than it’s good.
If it means dropping everything that is stable tomorrow, packing up your life, and moving to a third world country, than it’s good.
If it means furthering your education, than it’s good.
It if means marriage, it’s good.
If it means just barely making ends meet, good.
If it means earning money that you never dreamed of, even that is good.
It is good to remain where God has called you and is beckoning you to see the eternal in. If you are in God’s will and seeking His will, than the place you are at right now is for eternal reasons.
It really is as simple as that.
As Christians, many times we think we must be “doing it wrong” if we #1. Are not married and “fruitfully multiplying”, or #2. Being missionaries in a third world country and feeding orphans – both amazing things. The challenge here is to recognize that God NEEDS single people at different phases of life – He needs to use single people for different purposes than He might use someone who is married and with children – Paul says “But I want you to be without care. He who is unmarried cares for the things of the Lord; how he may please the Lord. But he who is married cares about the things of the world; how he may please his wife. There is a difference between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman cares about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit. But she who is married cares about the things of the world; how she may please her husband. And this I say for your own profit, not that I may put a leash on you, but for what is proper, and that you may serve the Lord without distraction.”
And just the same God needs people quietly working and being a constant where they are – working 9-5, serving in their church, going to school, simply being a friend to someone.
Kingdom things are not encased inside a box of extremes, but they are touching the things you touch, they are breathing into the lives you invest in, they are speaking into the hearts you affirm and place value in, and they are reaching places that you could never reach in your own conscious efforts.
It’s good to remain in Him, wherever He has you, because it is in those places that the purposes of God flourish in your life. It may not resemble your ideal or what you expected, but if He has called, lead, and planted you, than sweetheart, you are right smack-dab in the center of a heavenly calling, and no matter how small or insignificant the view is from your own perspective, you need remember that you reside on the ground floor – the artwork of all the weaving and molding that are your steps and actions is observed from a lofty, immortal vantage point. What you see around you as mess and chaos, or at times as a completely blank canvas, are in all actuality simply pieces of the whole.
You can’t make sense of every thing right now because of how incomplete His work in you is. Use whatever analogy you will – an incomplete painting, book, puzzle, sculpture – any form of art – the Creator is the only one who can envision the end result and WHY the current step/piece/color/chapter is necessary in order for there to be completion.
Only the Author knows why there is necessity behind the struggle and why heartache and confusion must be placed on the shoulders of the character. The character doesn’t get it – they can’t see that they are a part of something great which has only met it’s half-way point.
They see a broken marriage, a war, flunking out of school, a shipwreck, a terrorist attack, a teen pregnancy, a dad who has left, a mother with an addiction, they see cancer.
Death, loneliness, loss, fear, chaos, lack of love, emptiness, failure, anger, evilness.
These scenarios and emotions the Author has allowed to form within and around the character do not bring pleasure as the painful, jagged stories are woven onto the page – but without the broken marriage, the war, the shipwreck, the parents who failed, there would be no room for restoration.
Every single bit of life is laced with eternity and outlined in glory.
You’re a character, not the Author – just because the right here right now makes little sense doesn’t mean the One penning the page has no plan to utilize your heartache and struggle.
You can’t comprehend the ending right now even if spoilers were granted, chapters skipped, and every unforseen obstacle avoided.
And all the fears you walk around with each day?
They add not a single drop of joy to the future you have yet to step into.
Step back and choose to be.
Wait for the next word, and soak up each drop of love in the meantime.
If you think God is going to end your story with the word “hate”, “fear”, “misery”, “lonely”, “failed”, “broken”, “empty”, “damaged”, or anything else that would leave you wondering why He left you in the mire, then you have grossly underestimated the power of His restoration and redemption.
His specialty is making new and repairing broken things.
Your purpose is eternal, and if you could only realize that each piece of this puzzle of life is absolutely necessary in order for completion to happen – and if you could stop and remember that all you see are pieces scattered, chunks partially finished – some areas all filled with the same boring, drab color, others with too many intricate details and colors, some edges and corners and sections complete, but nothing gives you the whole picture. You can see the confusion and disorder that you feel your life is, but only God can see the image on the box, and He knows, that if He doesn’t lay the piece He has gripped between His fingers, then this puzzle can never truly be finished.
Let Him finish – no matter how hard you try, there are simply going to be times life makes little sense.
Remain, and ask Him to teach you trust like you have never been taught it before, and allow Him to satiate your soul with all the good things He desires to wash over your heart.
“And we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”
2 Corinthians 4:16-18