On December 31st, I did what I hadn’t done in a while. I said a prayer. Feeling God start to create these sentences in my head, I reluctantly picked up my laptop and started typing.
What am I doing? What am I even going to say, God?
He said, "I want to you to write this resolution. But it won’t be a typical resolution. It’s a proclamation and acceptance that your life will become significantly more difficult this year... but I want to know you accept it and will embrace it." That inner voice that I know comes from God continues. He goes on, "So I need you to write it down and blog about it, so you can come back to it in a few months and remember in tough times, that this is what you asked for."
SIGH. PAUSE. WHAT?
My fingers finished typing. I prayed over it and I published it. You can read it here. It’s my elevator pitch to 2018. It’s what I want from this year if I only had an elevator ride to blurt it all out. If you didn’t read it, that’s okay. Here's the even shorter version. I asked for hardship. I asked 2018 not to go easy on me. I asked for the real thing so when I look back in a year, and achieve some goals, I could say, I did all I could and didn’t take the easy way out. You might be thinking I am crazy. And for a few minutes, I thought so too. Did God just tell me to write that I want my life to be difficult this year? Who would ask for that?
After I published that blog post, and shut my laptop, I fell asleep. Happy New Year! I didn’t know that within a few weeks my Jeep would break down. I’d get in a car accident. I’d start an entirely new fitness journey and then I’d get laid off at my job. This all happened before mid February, and I felt it was one of those “be careful what you wish for moments.” I complained to God and said, “why me?! This is throwing off my plan! My savings take a hit. My goals are going to be delayed and take EVEN longer. This is a mess. Why me?!"
God answered and reminded me, “because this is what you asked for.” Leave it to Him to ALWAYS show up and show off.
I rolled my eyes. "But God," I pleaded. "Don't you want me to be successful? Don’t you know the desires of my heart? Don’t you want me to be happy?! If this happened all within two months of the new year, what other setbacks and bad things are waiting for me around the corner?
And here was my ah-ha moment. The lightbulb clicked on. It’s not a setback and we all need to stop seeing it that way.
These blunders and absurdities that I considered set backs are actually opportunities for growth!
I need them in order to get where I’m going. To grow. And to change. To become who He wants me to be. He’s right. I DID asked to be uncomfortable. I wanted the challenge. I’ve been challenged heavily this month to not do things for my glory but for God's.
I’ve asked: "Why is He leading me down this path I’m not sure I want to be on? Does He have something better in store?" I still don’t know the answer to all of these questions! But I think I may have offended God. It was like I gave him a checklist with things crossed off and just one more item left to do and said," here okay. I’m ready for you to do this now." But He crumbled up that list and tossed it behind Him. Learning not to rush God is so hard. I'm learning He isn't ever late... but sometimes I am early.
God's delays are not necessarily God's denials.
I still struggle with fulfilling my own dreams and desires vs. God's plan for my life. We all say, "But God I want this!" But He says, "my ways are better than yours. My plan will be pleasing and perfect."
There’s a song I heard at church this week by Hillsong Worship and the lyrics are, “if the wind goes where you send it, so will I.” A tough pill to swallow. We’re supposed to just blow in the wind wherever God pushes us? Aren’t we supposed to go against the current and chase our dreams no matter the risk or the cost? I don’t have the right answer for that either. But what I do know is that I’m still going to chase the things I want, while praying. Every time I have, He has answered me in his timing!
When I asked for clarity, he gave me clarity.
When I asked for life to come at me hard, it did and will continue to.
But it’s all in his timing. Not mine.
Prayer is not a get results quick gimmick.
If it was, I think we’d have a lot more faith out there. It’s so so hard to trust God’s plan for your life, especially when we are all selfish human beings deep down. Sure, I have goals, aspirations and things I want to make happen but none of them are going to happen if I’m stuck focusing on what I don’t have yet. How can I get after my dreams if I'm busy buying things to feel more worthy or adequate, comparing myself to others and sitting around asking, "why me?"
When God asked Jesus to do things throughout the Bible's stories, Jesus barely questioned God. He just knew God asked him to do it and He was obedient. And after he was obedient, there was a peace. But the peace didn’t come before the decision. Pastor Steven Furtick at Elevation Church said, "We don’t always have a peace about a decision we are making but once we make it and are obedient, in God's timing, there will be peace."
If I think back to prayers I've prayed and journal entries I've written, I can see that every time I’ve been obedient and prayed fervent prayers about life, I eventually get answers. The key word is eventually. Sometimes it's within a few days and sometimes it's years. There are still some situations where I don't yet have peace. But I have faith that I will eventually get some sort of peace. So my lesson? Maybe there isn’t one.