How do you catch a cloud and pin it down?
Over the years I’ve gone from uber goal driven “This year is my year!” to resolution pessimist “I don’t believe in resolutions”. This year I found myself somewhere in the middle. I feel like a living oxymoron sometimes. I’d love to have a plan that mapped out the rest of my life; how simple life would be if I could just follow the steps and live the life I always dreamed of?
It felt like a seemingly impossible task to set goals this year because I’ve experienced drastic changes to my plans and I was tired of being bamboozled by God’s influence in my life. What were my life goals? You may as well of asked me How do you catch a cloud and pin it down?
The Plan. I was living it!
I had a great job, flexible hours, I could work from home or from a holiday beach house (I did both), and I had minimum living expenses (thanks mom and dad). I was living the dream in my early 20’s. I made enough money to live comfortably and I loved the opportunities when I got to give money away, secretly pay for things, and support the people God highlighted to me financially. I could have lived like this forever. I was an active member in my church, I did lots of charity work, and I traveled whenever I wanted. I was comfortable, stable and for the most part satisfied.
One day as I was in my devotional time with God I felt an impression on my heart that I should “go back home”. It sounded like a simple instruction, but the only problem was I was home. I was literally sitting in my room in my parent’s house. Home sweet home.
I couldn’t understand it so I took it to God in prayer, “If this is You God then please explain how I can go home when I’m already home.” It took about a week to get my answer. That ever lingering sentence was replaced with a single word; well it was the name of a country actually. It was the country that I was born in but left when I was a child. I didn’t consider it home; I lived in the U.S. for twice as long as I lived in my homeland. I wrestled with this thought for a while until I gave up trying to figure it out and took it to God again.
After several signs:
-An email from a childhood friend in my hometown insisting I attend her wedding (I hadn’t spoken to her in over 15 years… how did she even get my email?!)
-A letter asking me to renew my passport
-A reoccurring scripture – “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.” Matthew 19:29
I made the decision to move back to my country. I told my boss, my family and friends and they all asked the obvious question WHY?! I didn’t even know why, I just knew I had to. I couldn’t shake the feeling and the signs that followed were more than I could ignore. I had no game plan and God wasn’t filling me in, He was just changing the perfect, safe and comfortable plan I already had. I wasn’t pleased about it but I felt compelled to comply.
I woke up on a Sunday morning and the first thought that entered my mind was, “You need to buy your plane ticket today.” Today?! It was only February and I didn’t have to leave until July! I didn’t want to book my flight because that would mean I was really going. I got my laptop and played around with dates and times. Then I looked at the clock and thought, well I can’t do this now I’ve got to get to church! I can’t miss church, that’s not something God would be happy about. I left the flight search and headed self-righteously to church.
In the middle of his sermon my pastor stopped. He said, “I don’t do this often but I can’t continue until I deliver this message to someone in this room. God has asked you to do something and you’re not doing it. He says it is time to stop putting off the thing He has directed you to do. Trust Him and obey because He goes before you and prepares your path.” He didn’t point me out, he didn’t even look my way but I knew from the heat that flushed my body and the conviction in my Spirit that he was talking to me. I went home straight after the service and booked my flight and then I wept like a kid on the first day of pre-school. I was actually going to leave my home, my friends, family, and way of life that I had grown accustomed to. This better be God I thought, or I was just crazy.
I sold or gave away almost everything I owned in the months that followed – my car, my furniture, my clothes and shoes. I packed my memories from high school into 2 blue storage containers to leave at my parent’s house and squeezed what was left of my life into 2 standard suitcases and a carry on. After 3 going away parties and a heart shattering goodbye at the airport I left my family and everything I knew and headed to my new home.
The New Plan.
I knew the destination: To work in the education field and have something to do with my faith.
I would start studying for a Master’s Degree in Christian Education. I got there only to encounter problem after problem. I couldn’t find a job, the university I originally thought I was going to lost my transcript, they never received the 2nd copy I paid to have sent and never notified me of it! Basically I was hitting a brick wall, repeatedly.
The job descriptions didn’t make any sense to me, the companies I applied for wanted prospects with work history in that country, and the way of life was so different! I had been in this new city that was supposed to be my hometown for 3 weeks and I hadn’t even found a church to go to or anything that used to bring me comfort and clarity back home.
This was all enough to make me want to walk away from my faith and straight into a psych ward. Forget this ‘follow Jesus’ nonsense. I called my best friend to speak my final words and give up this uncertain and un-plannable life with God. She told me I could do whatever I wanted but first I should at least try this church that she heard about in my city. I decided it was the least I could do before giving up. I visited the church a few days later.
This church had a Bible School. That was the first thing I noticed when I walked in. That’s nice for them I thought. Angela and Marie were the first friends I made there. They were both due to start the Christian Ministry course that the church offered. I felt a tug on the inside. No way I thought – A little school teaching about ministry and offering a diploma? No thanks, that was so backwards, I had a diploma from high school and a university degree, I didn’t need a diploma in ministry, I wasn’t going to be a pastor or anything like that.
– The Dust Moment –
I got a word and I ran with it. I never thought I was taking matters into my own hands. I just figured God knew I was efficient. All I ever needed from God was the destination and I could find a way to get there on my own. I could figure it out so He could focus on other things. Like I was His personal assistant or something.
The bad part about this way of thinking was that it kept backfiring. God wasn’t sticking to the plans I had! It was frustrating and it made it feel impossible to plan ahead and eventually to dream. My trust and my faith were dying with every change of plan that God orchestrated.
God’s plan was very different. After much back and forth and many more running into the brick wall I gave in and started Bible School with my 2 new friends. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life and a year later I ended up working for the church in their educational department. Education field, something to do with my faith… it all echoed a familiar destination I had earlier. I had come full circle and ended up right where I always thought I would. I didn’t even realize until I was actually sitting at my new desk in my new office. I made it to where He directed me, I just went a completely unexpected way!
– The Gold Exchange –
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.
Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.
– Proverbs 16:3
Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand
– Proverbs 19:21
So it’s pretty clear that the Bible has a lot to say about plans and planning. I don’t believe that God just wants us to float through life and be hippie fairies. (I don’t know what a hippie fairy is but it seems legit.)
I could clearly see that God had and has a plan for my life (and for yours) and He doesn’t just keep us in the dark. He does however like to surprise us and take us on a journey that we could never imagine for ourselves. That’s half the fun in life isn’t it?
Jesus said, “Follow Me” not “hear my voice and then go for it on your own”. He doesn’t want to just give us an address and say see you later! He wants to come along for the ride. He loves to walk through life with us because He knows where the best views are and where the hidden treasures lay. Imagine having the creator of the universe personally walk you through His creation, why would I want to miss that kind of tour?!
I’m not doing God any favors by taking matters into my own hands. Most of the time when I do that I am assuming I know God’s ways (“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. Isaiah 55:8). When I plan my own way I omit the unknown paths that God wants me to travel to get there. I choose the quickest and easiest route and cut out all the people, trials, victories and breakthroughs that God wants to accomplish along the way to our destination.
I’ve come to the conclusion that as I hear from Him I will direct my attention towards where He is leading me. I will let go of my own thoughts of how we will get there and I will focus on Him so I don’t lose sight of Him. I don’t necessarily need to see the road ahead of me I just need to see Him in front of me.
It is a very selfish and boring life to live apart from God. I’ve decided I will draft plans that God is welcome to alter as He chooses. I welcome surprises and I welcome lessons because they are all gold once I get to the other side and I know that every little step I take He will be there so I don’t have any reason to fear. I can laugh instead when I think of Bobby Brown and his dance moves in this throw back music video I re-discovered this week.
Happy planning gold-diggers! I hope 2015 is full of accomplishments and good God surprises!