I find myself asking this question very frequently. Now, that I did that, what’s next? Now, that I am here, what do I do next? Now, that, that didn’t go like I saw it happening what do I do? What’s Gods will in this. Where am I going?
So, for those who know me you know I tried to get a job in Alaska and that I planned on leaving around now. I made special arrangements in my life and started to prepare my mind and spirit to take a great adventure. I want to go on a huge epic cross country journey and I want to see everything in this world the eye can see.
But, only if God can use me while I do it and only if He is blessing my journey and only when He is lining up the events. So, I planned and prayed and interviewed and saved and got rid of stuff I didn’t need and researched Alaska and learned what I could. I abandon some more of the “things” I had knowing I wouldn’t have them there. I felt the “call” to simplify my life and my living. I felt the URGE to PURGE!
I prayed and God showed me meaning in the things I was doing. I was paying down debt and setting aside money for my journey to Alaska. I had people praying and offering their encouragement and advice. To say I was very very excited would be an understatement. I thought I had found the next step.
Well, I was right and wrong.
It was the next step but the step wasn’t heading in the direction I thought. I thought the steps I was taking would lead me to Alaksa. I thought that time there would give me a mix of adventure and independence, a renewed reliance on God and I would become better at speaking to groups of people would gain experience with people from all around the world and would learn about myself also become a better and more confident leader and teacher of Gods word by being with people who aren’t church goers. I thought it was a chance for God to grow me and use me in a place outside the church where its more needed. And biblically what He calls us all to do.
Although these things may have all happened had I gotten the job and gone. I didn’t get the job and non of them happened. However, it was still the next step.
Going through the process WAS the next step. But, instead of ending in Alsaka the next step left me standing in Ohio say “I trust you God. I know you have a plan, I don’t need to know what it is. I will continue to trust you.” And this time I really meant it.
My faith is easy to “maintain” when I feel Gods presents. It’s easy to be excited about Jesus and trust His words when it is going exactly the way you are feeling He is telling you it will go. But, what is it like when it doesn’t. What is my faith like when the building you were sure you would be running a world changing ministry out of gets sold? What is my faith like when I “know” I’m going somewhere and then I’m not. What is my faith like when I feel God telling me things that I know are true but I can’t see when they will happen or how in the world they will come about. How is my faith then?!
My faith is strengthened during those times. When I see what’s next and end up in a different place then I thought. When I trust in the Lord and let go and release my fear and see things from His perspective even when doubt tries to creep in, even when storms come and when people look at me like I’m crazy. These are the moments God strengthens me. These are the times that if you cling to Him, your life, your heart and your mind will be changed by Him.
Since I left my “real job” over a year ago, almost nothing has turned out or gone like I saw it. Almost nothing has been accomplished according to my measure of success and accomplishment. And almost everything has changed in my life.
What hasn’t changed:
- The vision of where God wants me. He wants me with people close to them talking to them.
- Using my story to inspire and motivate them to do what they love for God.
- The vision for the coffee house with ministry involvement a great place to hang out and talk about life and love and our Father.
- The vision of people coming together to encourage one another and to do it passionately and willingly and live free from the traps of what the world thinks we should act and be like.
What has changed:
- I have no building for this coffee shop.
- I have no idea even where it should go, it could go anywhere. I have no idea how it comes together. I once was sure I knew exactly how to do it and even had the building. I don’t even know who I will be working with, who will partner with me and who we will effect.
- I have deeper faith and a closer walk with God
- I have more wisdom, integrity and reliance on God
Yet, more has been accomplished on Gods timeline then I even dared to imagine myself.
Through the last year I thought the coffee house would be up and running. But, in turn God taught me how much work would be needed to make it actually happen. God has blessed me with building a network of people around me who love Him and believe in the vision He has given me and we continue to pray. I thought this blog would have a bunch of people reading it and following it and I would have massive amounts of wisdom poured out into its contents about how God makes the impossible possible. Instead, I have eight followers. And hardly any posts. Mainly because the things God has been doing are so intricately woven and elaborately put together I can hardly explain them in person let alone articulate them here in words. His blessings have been so overwhelming and He has worked even my little missteps into good things and made them a part of His plan. As far as wisdom goes. He has given me enough to know that my words here are not the thing that will bring people hope and bring people the inspiration they need to follow Him passionately. He has given me the wisdom that it is the actions I take every minute of every day that will accomplish His will for my life. My words could be eloquent (which I don’t believe them to be) they could be impactful and full of wisdom, but without the action and without living them out myself they are just facts on how to be. They aren’t Gods will and Grace lived out.
By now I thought I might have met “the one” for me. A ministry partner a companion a husband. But, He has grown me to see He is the one who completes me. He has made me just as He wants me and for His purpose. I still desire a companion one day but am no longer defined by that desire. He has taught me to focus on Him and everything else will be right.
So, in retrospect I think I put some unrealistic time lines on things. As humans I feel we pressure our selves to fit things in by a dead line. Married by 30 a house and kids and a great career by 35. Whatever, your own personal timeline may be. We plot this line out with the world in mind. The social norms and status quoes. We chart our path we aim high and then we practically kill ourselves with our own expectations as we hold our progress up to them as if they are a ruler of truth.
I was so far off! I wasn’t even close to knowing how things are measured. Time and success two things that take perspective to define.
The world sees time as days, nights, work time and weekend time. Even people in church compartmentalize their “service” time and “home” time, “work” time.
Success is gauged by comparison, do you have more or less stuff then you had last year. Are you making “progress”? Is your car, job, paycheck and friendships “better” or higher paying then last year.
How does God see time and success? Time is infinite (what’s the hurry?) time is on your side and God can do amazing things with us in the time He has given us.
What is successful to God? Well, I know He cares about all we do. I know He wants us to prosper and it is ok to have goals and reach them. It’s good to have direction and be really into things we love. But, where is your heart in your striving? Are you doing these things for His glory or yours? These are things I ponder and pray about frequently.
I can’t define what God sees successful as but I know it is an individual thing and He made us all to be wonderful at the things He has made us good at. He doesn’t compare, we are all beautiful and unique to Him and His definition of success I would think would be just as unique for each of us.
So, as we all search for meaning and purpose and we all look for the next step, I feel the need to say that whatever you do, don’t just stand still waiting in fear of the “wrong” choice being made. If you know something is the right step and deep inside you can feel it! Just do it!!!! Even if you don’t know why even if you think it’s crazy, even if you can’t see or explain where it is leading. Be adventurous take a chance and leap into your faith. God will bless it and God will lead you through it.
So, has my journey this far been anything like I thought it would be? Absolutely not! What would I change? Not a single moment! And I mean that. Even the rough nasty little tidbits. The moments I rather give up and walk away. And I have had a few. Even the moment laying in bed crying out to God “I trust you. I don’t actually believe that right now and you know I want to, help me believe more cause I can’t see you.” “I know your there, I refuse to let my doubt get in the way of trusting you.”
It gets hard sometimes. Trying to listen to God with the still small voice He has. It’s hard to quiet the noise in my mind to hear Him. It’s hard to do things that seem crazy or unnecessary to other people. Some have even said “don’t you think that’s kinda extreme?” But, in the end, He quiets the mind if you ask sincerely, He even speaks louder if requested, and He eventual shows the doubter and haters your not nuts. Or at the very least He helps you stop caring what they think.
So what’s the next step? Mongolia, to teach English. Do I have a bunch of things in my head that would explain why? Of course I do. And I can guarantee I would be way off. I have no idea.
Time to pray, prepare and trust. I thank the Lord for all he blessed me with and for the amazing things He leads me to do. Such an exciting adventure my life is turning out to be and all I had to do was to take the next step in faith.