I'm the type of person who likes to have a plan B and C, just in case A doesn't work out. I've always gone after the job, the goal, the guy - with strategy and drive that gets me the win I'm looking for.
This was until I hit rock bottom and learned my ways are not superior to God's.
I was living out a job and a life I was unhappy with, bearing the weight of my identity on whether or not I succeeded at something I didn't even enjoy. My mental capacity declined and I virtually lost everything. God had a plan to restore my life, HIS way. During this process, I learned a lot of practical steps to live out the life He's destined me for.
I'm still on my journey, but really, I think that journey is just called life.
Here's what I learned:
1. God Speaks - God actually cares about you. What a revelation. I think we often go through life thinking we need to have it all figured out and freeze up when we hit a dead end. What if the dead end is so we look up instead of forward? In Matthew 4:4, Jesus says "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God".
This was in response to the devil's temptation. Have you ever been in a situation where you think God doesn't care, where you listen to the voices that say God wants you to figure this out, you can't do anything right?
The lie in your head tells you God is far away and can't be bothered to deal with your problems. Take some time and get alone with God. Pray and ask him to reveal his truth about the situation you are in. He cares. A lot. "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart and soul" (Jer 29:13).
2. Get a Promise For Your Life - In the words of Housefires (oh wait, it's actually from the bible) - "For all the promises in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us". (2 Cor 1:20). We cannot afford to live a life absent of promises from God. This is the core of the Christian life.
God gave promises to every prophet in the bible, and Jesus gave many promises to his disciples and to his us. Promises catapult us into a vision far greater than we could ever imagine. "Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us" (Eph 3:20). I think as a church, we don't ask God for enough. He tells us we have not because we ask not. Start going after God for big things and write down his promises for your life. Dream big.
3. Every Promise Has a Process - One of my favorite pastors Kris Vallotton gives a great teaching on this. The process is the most important part of life. It is where God teaches us who he is and who we are. My problem before was when I had a vision, I would go after it without even inviting God into the process. It is so much harder that way.
God wants to show us the kind of father he is and the secrets to his way of doing things. Moses was given a promise by God for the Jews to enter the 'land of milk and honey' and most of the Jews in that generation didn't even get to experience it. Why? We need to have faith through the process. I'll give you an another example. God told Abraham he would be the father of many nations. Roman's 4:16 tells us "The promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham's offspring". It is by faith we receive the promise, not by our own agenda.
4. Read Your Bible - Okay I know, the bible can be boring but that's because we don't understand it's context. There is so much written in it that is mind-blowing, and stories that help us overcome our own obstacles. I didn't know anything about the bible except for what they taught us in Sunday school, until I took a theology course.
I can't even begin to explain how that school changed my life. We need to read the bible, it is the word of God for our lives. If you believe God spoke the world into being (you know the whole 'let there be light' thing?), we have to believe it is still relevant for us today. There have been times when I'm like "God I really don't think there is anything relevant in the bible about my dating life, can you please just show me what you think about this stuff?" and boom, I open the bible to the story of Rachael and Isaac, or the infamous Songs of Solomon. Open your bible, it won't put you to sleep unless you are reading Leviticus.
5. Find Your Barnabus - There is no 'I' in team. Moses had Aaron. Paul had Barnabus. Esther had Mordechai. Jesus had his disciples. You need to find your people, your community. My life went into crash and burn mode when I had isolated myself to the point I thought I couldn't trust anyone or they wouldn't understand me. I didn't let anyone in.
I was critical of church and stayed far away thinking listening online to sermons or reading my bible was enough. We need people. Put yourself out there. Go to church, find a life group, go to another church if you don't like the first but don't give up. It is important to find people to do life with.
6. It is a Fight of Faith - You will want to give up. You will cry out to God and ask him if He is really there. There is no shame in that. David was very emotional in the Psalms. Paul was begging for his friend Timothy to visit him in jail. God can handle our moments of defeat, but He promises the battle is already won. We need to exercise faith, it is like a muscle we are learning to use.
Abraham was like a zillion years old yet God told him he would have a son. "Without weakening in his faith, he faced that his body was as good as dead - since he was about a hundred years old - and that Sarah's womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God" (Rom 4:19-20).
God sometimes puts us in situations where we literally have no option other than Him. It is not to torture us or to make us feel like we are crazy, it is because He wants to deliver us and show us the power of faith. It is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen (Heb 11:1). If we just stand and say 'Okay God, I believe you even if my circumstances don't make sense,' He will be faithful to bring us through.
My mom died of brain cancer 3 years ago, and I definitely had little faith for anything after that. I am here writing this because God has shown me time and time again, He is faithful and He has amazing plans for our life. Don't give up.
7. You Will Need Grace - Grace is one of the most beautiful things in this world. It is by grace we can have faith. It is by grace we can walk through the fire. Grace is something that empowers us so that we can look back at a situation and say "Wow, that was only by God's grace did I get through that but I am so thankful because it showed me that it is real".
I mentioned how I lost my mom to brain cancer. My boyfriend and I had just broken up and I had also quit my job to take care of my mom. Life royally sucked. I am sitting here 3 years later, and I honestly am still learning how to walk, but I can say that I know God's grace is real because this blog wouldn't even be a thing without his ability to get me to write about this stuff. Channel your pain and see what comes out. You'll be surprised.
8. The Harder it Seems, the More God Trusts You - God loves all of us the same, but he entrusts more of himself to those who have shown themselves good stewards of his revelations. If God has shown you something really big, it is because he trusts you with this. It is an honor. "You bless the righteous, you surround them with your favor as with a shield" (Psalm 5:12). God's favor is for you and it is because He delights in you. Be encouraged, God has chosen to use you and He will fulfill your heart in more ways than you can imagine.
9. You are Chosen - God has handpicked you for something so special and unique, no one else can take your place. "Before I formed you in your mother's womb, I chose you" (Her 1:5). It's okay to think the task is much bigger than you. Moses had a stutter, yet God told him to go to Pharaoh and tell him to let his people go.
Peter was an emotional idiot who denied Jesus and was even rebuked for talking without thinking - but He became one of the greatest prophets and teachers of the bible. God loves to use what you think you can't do, and pick that as the very thing He wants you to do. It is because it brings him glory to show the world He can raise up anyone no matter what.
I'll be honest, I failed the AP English exam in high school. I was told my 'reading comprehension' was below average yet here I am writing this blog and attempting my first book. Why? Because God told me I'm a good writer and when he said it, people started to believe in me and I believed in myself. Don't let fear stop you.
10. Go For Gold - Rejection is a part of life. If you haven't been rejected, please move to Mars because you will fit in with the aliens. No but seriously, if you have been rejected, you are human. It does not mean that you are going in the wrong direction. In fact, it probably means you are doing exactly what you are supposed to. No great hero of faith or person in history accomplished something historic without facing rejection. The beauty of it is that the right 'yes' will come along and blow all the other opportunities out of the water. Go for gold and let the no's power you to the right yes.