I’m gonna take some time here to brag. Not about myself but about my God. I’m feeling overwhelmed by his goodness. Seriously guys, we serve a loving, sovereign, and gracious God. He is worthy of every ounce of praise. How often do we just stop to reflect on all the good that God has blessed each of us with? The very fact that you and I are breathing is something to fall face down and praise him for. I hope I brag about him every time I write on this blog but this time I want to brag a bit more. Here’s why-
In the fall I decided that I wanted to be a part of something that was bigger than myself, something purposeful. As college students, I think we often make the mistake of becoming too future-oriented. We see our 4 years in college as serving a purpose for our future career and I think we tend to overlook the ways in which God wants to use these 4 years to glorify him now. With this mindset, I decided to go to an info meeting for Young Life last fall.
If you’re unfamiliar with Young Life, it’s a ministry that seeks to reach high school, middle school, and special needs kids with the gospel of Christ. In September I started training to be a leader. I saw it as an opportunity to make a difference in someone else’s life and an opportunity to use my story to help and encourage others. I went through about 10 weeks of training and the biggest prayer journey I’ve ever been on. In February I was placed as a Grove City WyldLife (middle school focused) leader. The more I think about being a leader, the more I am amazed at how God orchestrated it all. Let me explain by rewinding this story a little.
During my junior year of high school I felt like my world was shrinking. Now, 4 years later I can see how small-minded and naive I was, but at the time I couldn’t see past my circumstances. When I began dealing with vocal issues in high school I had to give up one of the most important parts of my life: singing. I know that my pain was minimal in comparison to what others have gone through but for me it was the hardest thing I had ever been through. I began questioning God’s sovereignty and goodness. “Why would a good God allow me to experience such loss and pain? What reason could he possibly have? It was during this time that I read John 13:7.
“Jesus replied, ‘ You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand’.” John 13:7
I think we have to be careful not to read this verse out of context or as a promise that God will always show us why he acts in certain ways. (Jesus was talking to his disciples about his future suffering.) However, this verse was an encouragement to me because it showed that even if I couldn’t see what God was doing, he knew what he was doing.
With that said, I knew God had a plan but I wanted a specific reason for my pain. I expected that God would give me an answer, as if he owed one and I deserved it. I moved from needing an immediate answer to expecting an answer at some point. As time progressed, I came to accept that I may never know why God allowed my pain but that, as a sovereign God, he had a reason, even if I would never see it. This last phase was tough.
So although our all-good, all-knowing and sovereign God doesn’t owe us an answer and isn’t obligated to give an account for his actions (read through Job and you’ll see what I mean), I think he sometimes does reveal small pieces of his plans to us. I don’t think there is anything sweeter or more beautiful than seeing a slice of God’s handiwork.
When I look back at my life since my junior year of high school, I can’t help but stand in awe. Track with me: If I had continued singing through my senior year of high school, I probably would have pursued music in college. If I had gone into music, I probably wouldn’t have chosen to attend Grove City. Let’s say I still chose Grove City and entered the music program. I would have auditioned for touring choir, gotten involved in theater, and devoted my time to practicing, rehearsing, and performing in different capacities. If I had gotten involved in with music at Grove City my schedule would have been filled, my desire for community met through other musicians, and the thought of getting involved with Young Life would have never crossed my mind. Because of the pain that God allowed in my life during high school I ended up on a path that led me to becoming a Young Life leader. Being a leader has had its challenges and its bumps along the road, but without a doubt it has been the most rewarding thing I have ever been a part of. I am continually in awe of the hand of God in this ministry and the ways in which he was preparing me to become a part of it. All bragging rights to him.
My 17 year old mind couldn’t grasp a life without music or singing. I couldn’t see beyond my circumstances and the thought that God had something better planned was out of the realm of possibilities. If I could talk to my high school self, I would tell myself to take a deep breath and trust that beyond the hill I was climbing was something much sweeter. Something that would make the pain and loss worth it.
“…for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” Philippians 2:13
Knowing that we serve an omnipotent, omniscient, and perfectly good God, we can take rest knowing that his actions are purposeful and just even if we don’t know why or how they are. As followers of Christ, we trust that God’s plan is greater than ours and choose a path of submission to his will.
“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” Proverbs 19:21
How true is that??? My plans in high school certainly did not include Young Life but it looks like God’s plan did. I don’t think I have seen the full picture, but I do think God has allowed me to see just a glimpse of why he may have allowed my vocal issues.
So here’s my encouragement to you: Step back and remember that God really does work all things together for the good of those who love him. (Romans 8:28) Good doesn’t necessarily mean an easy, pain free life but it does mean that through his plan we are being conformed into his likeness. Try looking past your present circumstances and recognize that God works in ways that are far beyond our ability to see or comprehend.