“Well, here we are…” I said nervously, pausing just long enough to question why I’d volunteered to speak infront of so many of my peers in the first place.
I continued, “Most of us have spent countless times sitting next to each other, either as good friends or fellow classmates. While others of us are sitting next to each other for the very first time. But together, there is one thing we have in common- we have all shared many memories over the years.
Maybe you remember Elementary school, where your popularity was determined not by your social status or amazing good looks and charm, but by whether you got to sit in the back of the bus and by which boy you had chasing you around at recess pulling your hair… We know who you are! “I said eyeing the culprits who were sitting among us.
“Luckily in Middle School, the boys came up with a less excrusciatingly painful way of showing their affection. How could we forget the ‘Do you like me? check yes or no’ love letters that were usually thrown at our heads in the form of paper airplanes!
Yet before we knew it, we were walking the crowded halls of high school, where it’s not unlikely that some of the wisest things you learned were things you read scribbled on the bathroom stall.
These were the years where we made the grade, broke a record, found love -or were just lucky enough to find a prom date!”
I spoke with certainty as I closed, “But as the day gets closer to graduation, who knows what memories we have yet to experience in this next stage of our lives? In Jeremiah 29:11 the Lord says, For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
We have been given a future in Christ, and by following the will of God we are not only going to hit the target, but the bulls eye!
(I’m sure when I said that last sentence, I thought it sounded waaaaaay cooler than it actually did!)
So as your fellow classmate and friend, I would like to encourage you to remember this… God is there for you and always will be no matter what the future holds!
I look back on that speech often, and smile to myself as I picture an awkward girl standing before her peers, firmly believing what She thought God’s plan’s was for her – when in reality, she had no idea!
I was going to go to bible college in Florida for a year, and then transfer to a university in Washington State to get a master’s degree in teaching.
I wasn’t going to get married until I was in my late twenties…
and as a lifelong pastors kid, my only major requirement was that he NOT be a pastor!
(haha… it’s humorous, really!)
Once the marriage license was signed at age 20, and I found myself hitched to a man who was equally as passionate about me as he was being a pastor someday, the plans I had for my life evolved once again…
I wanted 3 kids all by the time I was 30 and no more than two years a part.
I wanted a Red Porsche SUV,
and a kitchen table that could fit 8 people comfortably for a dinner party.
Its laughable, because look at me now: Married young, and to a flippin’ pastor!
and no doubt, in over my head with only one kid!
And thanks to my new life in Crazy town USA -aka Manhattan- I am without a car, and with little room for even the smallest of gatherings in the 650 sq feet apartment my family calls home!
It’s obvious really…
I need to stop telling God what to do!
Just like in the Story of the Two Monks:
“I need oil,” said an ancient monk, so he planted an olive sapling.
“Lord,” he prayed, “it needs rain that its tender roots may drink and swell. Send gentle showers.” And the Lord sent gentle showers.
“Lord,” prayed the monk, “my tree needs sun. Send sun, I pray thee.” And the sun shone, gilding the dripping clouds.
“Now frost, my Lord, to brace its tissues,” cried the monk. And behold, the little tree stood sparkling with frost, but at evening it died.
Then the monk sought the cell of a brother monk, and told his strange experience.
“I, too, planted a little tree,” he said, “and see! It thrives well! But I entrust my tree to its God. He who made it knows better what it needs than a man like me.
I laid no condition. I fixed not ways or means. ‘Lord, send what it needs,’ I prayed, ‘storm or sunshine, wind, rain, or frost. Thou hast made it and Thou dost know.’ “
~Calm My Anxious Heart by Linda Dillow~
So often our prayers consist of us telling God what we need – pleading with him even- like we know better than He does!
I have experienced a lot of this during my last 5 months in New York City- where in a moment of overwhelming emotion, I cry out in a panic,
“No!! don’t let THAT happen God!”
“Haven’t I sacrificed enough?”
“Why can’t My life be more like so-and-so’s?”
“This is not how my life was supposed to turn out!”
And the truth is, as an 18 year old girl, this wasn’t how I envisioned my life turning out!
Not even in the slightest.
But in Proverbs 3:5-6 it says,
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take.”
I need to be reminded that all seasons of life -the storms, sunshine, wind, rain, and frost- all serve a unique purpose.
And that if I seek the Lord above all else, and still find the path leading me in an entirely different direction than what I had originally planned, its not only ok -but it’s divine!
Even more, maybe it’s what I needed to thrive!
We need to be less interested in getting our way, and more interested in fulfilling the Lord’s will for our life!
And while I don’t know exactly where my place is, in this brutally large city that He has led me to…
Or why he chose a person like me, who admittedly was perfectly content living a comfortable life in suburbia.
I do know I need to entrust each and every day of my life to it’s maker! And to pray less for merely just what I want, and more for what only He could possibly know that I need!
The Lord hast made me, and He dost know!
Father if you are willing, take this cup from me.
Yet not my will, but yours be done.