We all do it. The more I open up with people about it, the more I hear "That is so normal." What am I talking about? I am talking about the feeling that happens inside us when we wonder if we are where we are supposed to be. It's the painful questions that rise in our minds when we think of all of the things we have turned down in order to be where we are today... The guy or girl we didn't date. Or the one we didn't stay with. The career we didn't pursue. The passion we didn't follow. The school we didn't go to. The diet we didn't finish. The place we didn't move to.
Life is full of choices, and when we say "yes" to one thing, we are essentially saying "no" to the other options. One of my biggest fears in my life is that one day when I am like 40 perhaps, then I will look back at my life and see all of the things I should have done, but didn't. Sometimes I hear adults do it- you ask them what they wanted to do when they were young and they say something like, "Oh I so badly wanted to be an artist, or an athlete, but now I am just a teacher." Notice the emphasis is not on what they wanted, nor what they have become, it is on the "just a", I never want to be a "just a". No matter where I go in life I want to be excited about where I am at, and the decisions I have made. But that temptation to feel like I'm "just" something, is overwhelming.
I've been praying about this the last few days, because my own questions are making my stomach sick and I'm desperate for answers. True answers. God's answers. My own answers are unreliable, and the world's answers are unimpressive. The world says if you are unhappy in your marriage then divorce; if you don't like life now then leave it and start new; if you don't like your job then step on people and do everything you can to move ahead. I'm not down with that. I have seen and been a part of too many broken situations to believe that those are the best pieces of advice I can find. So then what is God's design? What does He have to say when I am crying alone wondering if I have made the right choices, or if I somewhere in the last few years I went wrong and I am missing out on something?
God's answer for me was Joseph. The Joseph of Genesis, the first book of the Bible. Joseph is my favorite, I am constantly looking to him to show me how to live. This guy knows how to do things. He is young, good looking, and well-built. His dad favors him, his brothers hate him, and God speaks to him. Joe's brothers end up selling him to be a slave and then they deceive their father into thinking that Joe was killed by a wild animal. Joe is purchased by an Egyptian officer, and he serves the guy faithfully. In fact our man Joey does such an amazing job that he is put in charge of everything the officer owns. Then the officer's scandalous wife notices how much of a babe Joe is, so she tries to sleep with him. Honestly you would think JoeJoe would give in to the temptation, this woman is probably beautiful, and obviously Joe is not getting sex from anywhere else. But out of his love for God and his respect for the officer, he literally runs away from the woman. She is not thrilled about that, and she is probably embarrassed, so she frames Joseph and claims that he tried to rape her... Joey is thrown into prison. But God was with Joe, and he was promoted to be in charge of all the other prisoners and everything that happens in the prison. Eventually Joe does something supernatural, he correctly interprets the dreams of some of the Pharaoh's main men- this appears to be his ticket out of prison. However he is forgotten about and so therefore, he spends two more years serving God in jail. Eventually though, the Pharaoh needs a dream interpreted and everyone looks to Joey to do the job. After he correctly interprets the dream he is favored so highly that Pharaoh makes him second in command over the entire land of Egypt, only the King has a rank higher than Joseph.
Amazing isn't it? Everything in Joe's life points toward devastation, and yet everything he does prospers. Why is that? My conclusion is that Joe's love for God overwhelms everything else in his life. His desire is to serve God faithfully, no matter where he is, or what the circumstances look like, or how long he will be there. He fully trusts God to take his life where he needs it to be. We see that in chapter 50 verse 20 when Joe is finally reunited with his brothers,
20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result..."
Joe's eyes were set on heaven. He did everything he could to make the most of where he was, in order to bring glory to God. He had vision for his life and he followed it.
There is my answer, and there is yours too. Vision. Our eyes need to be set on God, trusting in 2 things:
1) God is trustworthy.
2) He is with us.
It is important to know that we can trust Him. We can trust that He is big. He is good. He can speak to us. We will hear Him. His perspective is true. He knows more than we do. His plans are to give us a hope and a future. He loves us and He knows what is best for us. We can trust that He will take care of us and meet our needs. We can trust that His word is true and that life on this planet is not the end of the story. We can trust that if we set our eyes on Him then we will be taken places that we never dreamed possible.
It is vital to know He is with us. He is here. Now. With me. With you. Protecting us. Leading us. Comforting us. Filling us. Strengthening us. Preparing us. Giving us access to supernatural power. Renewing our minds, transforming our hearts, and making us more like Him. We were created for His delight and in Him we find our identity. Everything else grows dim when we experience the fullness of His presence.
So then what about my questions? Did I go wrong somewhere? Should I have picked college instead of YWAM? Or someone else instead of Shaun? Should I be dancing instead of writing? Or modeling instead of eating so much?
28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
Joseph knows it. I know it. My sister Meredith knows it. Amy Plender & Beka Brigleb know it. Liz Wetherby knows it. Shaun knows it. About 30 skaters down the street know it now too. God is in control. Our lives are surrendered to Christ. We can be still now, serve faithfully, and believe for God's best, no matter what shape it takes on. We need to keep our focus on Him, right where we are, because if we remain distracted we will miss out on the blessing that is right in front of us.
Some practical application... for those like me who need help knowing how to live out the truth when our minds are racing with lies.
Think of the people in your life and all of the roles you have to fulfill.
(I will do myself as your example)
I am a:
-Assistant to an elderly woman
-serve at Models For Christ
Okay so then you think about the end of your life. The real end. Like when you die, and your name is a memory. Now go through your list of roles and decide how you want these people to remember you.
Example: -Friend- I want be remembered for being faithful, hopeful, not gossiping, encouraging, prayerful, fun, positive, open, listening well, being patient... etc.
Now you have a template for how to act, no matter the circumstances. So say I have a friend that is making me crazy and frustrating the heck out of me- I know that no matter how I feel, my actions need to line up with the vision that I have set (the way I want to be remembered at the end of life).
"Where there is no vision people perish" Proverbs 29:18