God orders our steps and uses us as we were created to be!
You would think that I would write a bit more since I love to do it but seems we all are so busy these days that many times the things we love to do don't always get done. Well today, I stopped what I needed to do and decided to pour my heart out on this page.
I am confident that this blog post will bless some because of the insight and wisdom that I've gleaned from the nuggets that I am about to share which have changed my life. Can I say it again louder-- THIS LESSON HAS CHANGED MY LIFE. And I hope that it too will impact someone if not many as it did mine.
So where do I start!!!!!! I will not start with my BC (before Christ) days because that plan was selfish, full of making money, marrying the professional athlete that I was dating at that time, and reaching a plateau of stardom. If you are still chasing that dream-- well, ummm, I'll just leave that conversation alone and interpret it's outcome as empty, vain, and un-fulfilling. Instead, I will begin about 23 years ago on the day I fully surrendered to God and He gave me a vision and purpose. He showed me that I would preach His word, pastor His people, and love the poor. I saw this in countless dreams, heard it in a soft still voice, felt it in an internal yearning, and it was confirmed and re-spoken by many trusted friends and leaders. So immediately, I begin to chart the vision and interpret exactly how it would happen. I saw myself getting a theology education and going back to my church to lead the Christian Ed. department and that didn't happen. Then I saw myself marrying a pastor, having 3 kids, living in a plush neighborhood, preaching on the circuit, and pastoring a large congregation with my husband for about 25 years and then one day we would retire. I had it all planned out in that order and I felt it would nicely unfold as I walked that path.
Errrrrrk, back up, not so-- GOD HAD OTHER PLANS AND AN ENTIRELY DIFFERENT PATH. But can I admit, I spent years trying to make the above dream and plan become a reality! So much so that I made sure I crossed all my T's and dotted all my I's. So I went to all the 'how to" conferences, took all the classes, worked diligently, did all I knew to do, prayed, cried, and still fell short of reaching this vision as I saw it. This made me angry, disappointed, discouraged, and feeling like a failure because although I married a pastor, had 2 kids instead of 3 after numerous miscarriages and having my youngest at age 40, do not live in a plush neighborhood, not preaching on the circuit (whatever that is), and pastored a church of maybe 60 to 130 members over a span of 15 years and just recently resigned from pastoring . And of course I haven't shared all that was in between-- the pain, the financial struggles (both in ministry and personally), the hurt, rejection, being misunderstood, not being accepted, dealing with racial and gender barriers, desiring to quit, not working for the pay I was capable of making, and comparing myself to others. Hey this path was not quite what I saw. Though during this time, there was joy ad-mist the pain, celebrations and successes, lives changed, character building, and God's unchanging favor, love, grace, inspiration, motivation, and His encouragement never waiver-ed. And what the enemy meant for evil, He turned for His good and even my mistakes eventually became a growing opportunity and gave me strength.
And maybe if you would be honest, you might actually agree that what you envisioned is not exactly where you are at this present moment. Or maybe your current status resembles what you saw but the path of getting there was not as easy as you imagined. That's usually true for most of us especially when we follow the path of God. God takes us an entirely different way from what we envision or perceive. Remember the word tells us that His ways are not ours and His thoughts are not ours and even Proverbs 16:9 says, "In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his step". And Proverbs 19:21 says this, "Many plans are in a person's mind, but the LORD's purpose will succeed". (Common English Version) I really like the Good News version which says, "People may plan all kinds of things, but the Lord's will is going to be done. So in other words, we can plan all we want but it is God's ultimate will and plan that we will bring us success. Keep going no matter what it looks like right now. Trust that God is working it out for your good.
When we finally get this principle and apply it to our lives, it brings peace, freedom, and success according to God's definition and not the world. But how do we know and rest in God's plan? Glad you asked! From my experience, I have learned that we hear the vision, write it down, and then allow God to interpret the meaning of what He shows us as well as order our steps of how to fulfill and realize it. Then, we must also be obedient to follow His plan no matter the sacrifice, the personal pain, the uncertainty, the failures, and be 100% willing to walk the path no matter where it takes us. When we are so determine to do it God's way and not our way-- it relieves stress, alleviates sinful behavior, and helps us accomplish exactly what God created us to BE AND DO! We take one step at a time and walk the path as it unfolds. Our perception literally must be reshaped and conformed to His way and His will. And this helps us to not be disappointed when things don't happen exactly like we planned them. Both Joseph and Jeremiah understood this truth well. Joseph dreamt of other sheaves bowing to his sheave meaning he would rule and his brothers would bow to him. I am sure he was prideful in believing he would assail as a high ranking leader and his brothers would bow before him. However, Joseph had no idea the interpretation and path of that dream meant he would be sold into slavery, accused of rape, integrity tarnished, thrown into prison, and forgotten about before he would become a leader of a providence in Egypt. His dream became a reality but not like he thought it would and in the process God humbled him, built his character, tested him, and gave him an unconditional love to extend to others and even the brothers who treated him with hatred.
Likewise, I too have taken a path that I never would have imagined. One that has grown my character, tested my faithfulness, humbled me and allowed me to walk in the full identity of who God created me to be. Nothing has happened exactly like I planned it but I am grateful for the journey because without the journey, I would not be the person I am today. Also, I have learned to no longer try to interpret God's vision and force a plan to become a reality. I've learned that whatever God's vision is, He will direct my steps and bring me to the fulfillment of what He desires me to be and what He desires me to do in order to fulfill His plan for my life. This has brought me to a great place of peace. I no longer strive to make something happen but rather just gracefully walk as He leads. The original vision of preaching His word, pastoring His people, and helping the poor happens in a myriad of different ways not uniformed to any particular box that someone might try to put me (or you) in. He knows the exact path and plan. I don't have to be or do what anyone else is doing but BE and do what God desires. I am created in His image and likeness with all my uniqueness, proclivities, and personality and He uses it all because my steps are ordered by Him. If He says go right, then I go right. If He says go to Haiti, then I go to Haiti, If says adopt a family, then I do likewise. If He says start this church, then I do so, If He says start this ministry or business, then I take a leap of faith and do it. If He says lay down this ministry/job and leave this position, then do so. If He says connect with that person, so do! If He says disconnect with that person, follow that directive. If He says to share that, then I speak. If He tells my husband and I to move to Africa, then we do likewise. Hey God, I am not saying to tell us to move to Africa. LOL The point here is wherever He leads, just follow. But you must stay in prayer and communication with Him in order to hear His voice and follow His will. Plan to surrender more to God and His will as this year ends and a new one begins.
YOUR steps are also ordered by God. Be willing to lay down your plans and follow His plan. Don't try to do what you think He desires or strive to build, perform, or accomplish something that you think is the path or way of success but seek Him daily and walk out each step as He shows and leads you. Believe me, this is the most peaceful and freeing place to live. Waking up every morning, getting your instructions from God and then following them step by step, plan by plan, and day by day. I am not exactly sure where God is taking us next but I do know this, as long as we stay connected to Him, surrender our will, work out our soul salvation with fear and trembling, stay humble, and have the courage to walk His path when He leads-- we will be in the perfect will of God with His peace and His success! I will close with two scriptures below that confirm and put an exclamation point on all that I've shared in this blog post.
Psalm 37:23 23 The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, And He delights in His way!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Proverbs 1: 31- 33 So the fruit of their way will be their food, and with the designs of their hearts they will be made full. 32 For the turning back of the simple from (His) teaching will be the cause of their death, and the peace of the foolish will be their destruction. 33 But whoever gives ear to Me will take his rest safely, living in peace without fear of evil!!!!!!!!!!!!!!