That simple sentence can be utterly terrifying. Any student finishing high school is familiar with the barrage of questions they may face every day:
Where are you going to college? What is your major? Do you have a job? Where are you going to be working?
As life goes on, the questions may get even harder:
When are you going to get married? Where are you going to live? How are you going to pay for that? What do you believe about ______?
We all know that we are expected to have answers. Seriously, we are smart, capable, responsible human beings, so we must have the next 10 years of our lives planned out, right?
I fit right into this mold. I am a planner. I love to have a checklist, a five year plan, a career strategy, a list of "do's" and "don't's." Without a plan, I feel lost. So if you would have asked me, say a year or two ago, any of these questions, I would have had solid answers.
|My "perfect" graduation picture|
I knew what college I was to attend, how I would pay for college, what degree I would get, what my major would be, how I would start my career, how just at the right time I would find the perfect guy, settle down and have some kids, and find a way to work every once in a while. I had it all planned out. It was going to be perfect.
Somehow, along the way, I forgot to really consult God. Oh sure, I prayed long and hard about which school to attend, but I was so set it my plan that I didn't ever question my program or my major. I prayed about my future husband but never even considered the thought that God would allow me to live part of even *gasp* all of my life single. I always believed that "God loves us and wants to give us the desires of our hearts" so therefore: I want these things to happen—God will make it so.
Then little verses started popping up.
"Now listen you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, and trade a make a profit. Yet you do not even know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills we will live and do this or that." As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil."
- James 4:13-16
I memorized this passage. I understood it in theory, but I didn't apply it. I was getting so many mixed messages. The world says to plan, to design your own destiny, to write a checklist for accomplish great things. God just says, "Trust me."
In the rush of senior year and the excitement of graduation, God's voice got drowned out a little bit. I recited my college plans a hundred times, and was duly congratulated. It seemed so good, so perfect, so easy.
God doesn't work in the easy things.
Over the summer, as things calmed down, I learned how to fall in love with Jesus, and he drew me to the unthinkable—traveling across the world to a place I didn't know to share his good news.
I was scared. For the first time in my life, there were so many questions that I did not have answers for. How would I pay for the trip? Would it be safe? Could I survive a fourteen hour flight? How would I communicate? Would I even be able to do any good?
It was in the lack of answers that I saw God move. He provided the funding. It a miracle, but I did not pay a penny toward going on that mission trip. The Lord provided it all. He showed me his great love, so wonderful that worries of safety dissolved entirely. I am always safe in His arms. Every piece of the puzzle slowly fell together through his grace.
|An imperfect, blurry picture of me taken by a 7 year old Indian boy|
Strangely enough, I loved everything about that mission trip. Something I resisted for years brought me more blessing than anything I worked towards on my own strength.
I no longer believe that God wants to give us the desires of our heart. Rather, he wishes to make our heart's desires more like his own. Then they will always be granted.
|VBS in India|
God's work in my heart is continuous. He is taking me on a new faith adventure right now in the area of my career/college. Guess who is going back to community college to take pre-reqs for a nursing program while finishing my BA? Yep, this girl. Is this plan crazy? Quite possibly. Will it be time-consuming and expensive? Totally. But this is where God is leading me. And quite honestly, I don't know where this path will take me. So if you ask me today:
Will you be an ASL interpreter?
Will you go through the nursing program?
Will you work as a nurse?
Will you be in America or in a foreign country?
Will you ever get married?
Will you go back to India?
My answer to all of these questions right now is, "I don't know." And I am okay with that answer. The beauty is that I can see a hundred different outcomes for my life; a hundred different ways to serve Jesus. I don't know which one He will lead me on, but I know it will be good.
All God has given me right now is the next step, and I will take it.