I make plans that I hope will please God because I honestly desire to honor Him and help others. Meanwhile, God patiently waits for me to surrender completely to Him and learn how to live His way, not mine.
I have been very sick for a long time. In hopes I was progressively getting better, I pursued a coveted position with an elite teaching organization and got so close to making the final cut. So close, making the second to last cut in the top twelve percent, but not close enough. My health and economic status were the deterrents. Regardless, it was God's hand that prevented me from making that final cut. It would have been disastrous for the organization, students, and myself had I made that final cut.
Wanting to be helpful to others using my teaching skills, I made a few teaching videos and a resource website and planned to make more videos to help parents, teachers, and students in the early stages of the stay-at-home orders associated with COVID-19. I took advantage of less-sick days to work on this to feel like I was still contributing something.
I continued doing things my way though my health started to significantly decline again the week before I found out I didn't make the cut with TFA. I applied to an online teaching job and got to the final stage. My computer crashed the day of my final stage. I was going after this job though my health was still declining, and at least 80% of the time, I cannot talk! I try to talk but have so much inflammation in my esophagus, bronchial tubes, and lungs that I can hardly breathe, and I shake and sound like a goat more than a human. It's quite humorous but also alarming and frustrating.
Now in week three of being able to eat less than 20 foods including salt, sugar, and expensive butter from grass-fed cows, I finally submit. I feel like a warrior in battle finally dropping my sword and head in defeat. Though I know submission to God is never defeat but is always victory, I still feel defeated. Perhaps because I didn't win against God doing things my way. A truer picture of my reality than that of a defeated warrior is that of a child who's lost her way in a large field and is all alone. As she hears her father's voice, she jumps up and down, and waving her arms she runs to her father she sees nearing in the distance. Human ego fights against our relationship with our heavenly Father.
As a kid, I always took great pride in being one of the fastest runners in my school. For several years a boy in the same grade shared the unofficial title of "fastest runner" with me. I was proud because I was one of the smallest in our grade, and he was one of the tallest. I ran with all my might, not knowing about my heart problems, asthma, or the fact that one isn't supposed to black out while running. My vision would go black and my head numb every time I ran; I knew no differently so assumed this experience was the same for everyone while running.
I've always generalized--thinking if it's this way for me that it must be this same way for others. As a kid running, I never stopped to consider warning flags. Now that I am about to be forty, I am learning, very slowly and stubbornly, to pay attention to warnings in life and to stop running when it's detrimental.
Running from God is always detrimental but can be an excellent teacher. I have learned a lot while running from God that I am thankful He will use for my good. My warnings of worsening health, crashing computers, and closing doors all told me to stop running my own way. I'm tired of running. Jesus tells his disciples in Matthew 11:30 that his yoke is easy and His burden light. He didn't say there was no burden with Him but rather conveyed that it is a natural burden they would be able to bear. I'm realizing it's neither fruitful nor heroic to continue to attempt to bear an unbearable burden.
God's design for life is very doable. Often we strive to achieve goals we think will give us worth. What is the end result of our striving to prove our worth to our heavenly Father? The fact is that we are all dust seeking our own way, yet He loves us enough to give us His purpose and all His care. Why do we run from Him instead of to Him? In Him we have everlasting life of eternal value. Apart from Him we struggle to design and pursue our own significance. I pray we all learn sooner than later to run to God and desire His design for our lives.
Follow-through. That's what I lack. This problem has worsened throughout the years. I offer the excuse of my very unstable health and multiple battles daily just to exist. Though my health problems don't pave my road with ease, I recognize the natural consequences of not submitting my all to God. I get involved with something but never complete the tasks necessary for success. I feel sort of like the "lost goose" though I truly know the way home. Maybe I relate more to the poor steward and prodigal son more than I want to admit. Though I've used the skills God gave me to honor Him, I've not done what He has tugged at my heart to do.
Picture a new gardener given a new shovel. He uses his new shovel to smash in new nails and to pop out old ones, he then partially buries the blade of the shovel to mount a birdhouse from the handle. He is so proud of his accomplishments with his new shovel, yet he didn't use it for its best purpose.
Human nature struggles with the unknown. Sometimes we separate our spiritual walk from our rationale. We want to keep our spirituality separate because it isn't something we can map out and see a point of success in the future. Our spirituality is all about our relationship (or lack thereof) with our Creator. We also struggle with control because of the unknown. Often we choose what we consider the best option to use our God-given gifts. Subconsciously we think we can control the outcome if we choose a safe choice that fits within our rationale. We plan without God to succeed and promise to give Him the glory once we do. This is not God's design. He gives us lofty dreams that we suppress with our rationale. I've relied far too long on my rationale that can neither predict nor determine the future.
Humans are funny. We want details laid out before we have the "faith" to follow God's invitation. God says, "Follow me." We respond with, "Show me the itinerary and map." God gives us talents, skills, passions. He invites us to follow Him in our journey fully discovering these gifts. He isn't going to show us everything ahead of time; however, He does promise that when we follow Him we will live the best journey imaginable.
God gave me a gift of communication. He has made it evident to me in many situations: public speaking, interviews, interpersonal and professional relationships, and writing assignments in school and college, to name a few. He blessed me with an education to hone skills associated with this gift.
In reality, I fear failure. We don't want to fail God or think He has failed us. I somehow twisted into my rationale that if I failed my plans, it wouldn't affect my relationship with God. My fear of failure indicates a problem I don't want to have--a lack of faith. A fear of failure is a lack of trust, a lack of faith in the One who blesses us with our gifts and equips us to do whatever He designs and desires for us to do in this life. A lack of faith and fear of failure result in a lack of follow-through when you know deep inside that what you busy yourself with is not what your Creator has for you to do. You waste precious time, miss major blessings, and mound up negative consequences when you justify, rationalize, procrastinate, and attempt to ignore your Father's invitation.