by Kimberly Heide
Do you know what no one ever told me when I started college? They forgot to tell me that I would have very little idea what I was doing. I mean, everyone talks about college as the time when life became clear, God pulled back the curtain and all was revealed. Understandably, when I started my freshman semester, I thought I’d have it all figured out in no time. I gave God my life and said, “Here, Lord, take it all. I’ll follow if You lead the way.” Certainly by the end of my first year I’d have a solid plan for where I was going and where my education would take me. After all, isn’t college the place where everything is supposed to become crystal clear? If that is the case, I must have missed the memo.
So here I’ve passed the half-way point of my four year sentence and I still don’t have a clue. Sure, there are some things I would like to do, but one thought reverberates in my mind: What do I do if I have nothing to do? What if I don’t get “THE CALL”? What if I have no job offers? Where’s my message in the sky, my voice in the night? Have you ever been there? It seems like by this point, you should know where you’re going but somehow your GPS keeps giving you conflicting directions. One minute you know you are heading in one direction and then you have to take a u-turn out of nowhere. You start to wonder if God might have lost the road map for your life, even though you might say to anyone who asks, “Of course I trust Him…”. So maybe you are like me and you start making back-up plans…just in case. After all, this cannot possibly be all that there is to your life. It has to go somewhere from here, right?
Do you know what God’s Word says about that? This is something that I have had to come to grips with. In Hebrews 13:5, the writer admonishes the readers to “…be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” Stop for a minute and think about who was writing to whom. Popular consensus is that the Apostle Paul wrote this letter, the same Paul who had ben beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, and imprisoned, among other things. He went from knowing exactly where life would take him as a Pharisee to not even having the freedom to leave his own house. And don’t forget, the recipients were Hebrew believers going through intense trials. How does that relate to you and me? God wants us to be content with all that He gives us, including our stage in life.
Sometimes, we feel like we should be way farther down the road than we are, and we think, “God, what are you doing? I’m late!” Maybe your automatic reaction is to defend yourself. After all, you’re a good Christian and you would never think something like that. But you know, that is exactly what we are telling God when we are discontent with where He has us. Maybe this is just a time for you to get to know God. I know that’s a challenge He has given me, and I know I have had the same struggles myself. I have thought the same things, wondering where I’m going and why it has to take so long to figure it out. Taking a step back, I have come to realize, isn’t always moving backward. Sometimes, it is the only way to move forward.
So here’s a challenge I’ve given myself and I want to challenge you, as well, dear reader. Phase One: Stop Counting! All of our lives we count – our numbers in school, birthdays, clothes, shoes, best friends, boyfriends, school days, years of college, and on and on. Then we let it leak into our dreams and we start counting the years that pass which we think should have been spent other than how they were and the years we think have been wasted because our hopes and dreams weren’t front and center. So here is my advice. Stop counting. I do not mean sit around and waste time, but I do mean do not let yourself get caught up in time. If you are spiritually what you should be, God will take care of the timing.
Phase Two: Get Busy! This dove-tails with Phase One. Are you sitting around? Just getting by with the bare minimum in your witnessing and ministering? Maybe your problem is not a need to move on with life to the next stage. Maybe your problem is that you refuse to use what you already have. Jim Elliot once said, “Do what you can where you are with what you have.” This does not mean run yourself into the ground but maybe ask yourself, “Am I so discontent with my life because I’m not really doing anything with it?” Get active! Stay busy! Serve others! You will find that you have a lot less time to count the “wasted” days if you spend your time thinking of someone besides yourself and your own plans. Don’t believe me? Try it out and see what happens.
Phase Three: Do Not Substitute Busy for Relationship! If in taking care of Phase Two you find that you have less and less time with God, you miss the point. Being busy does not substitute walking with God. The last thing you want is to end up like Martha because you thought there was some kind of special merit to making yourself a Super Servant. God has little pleasure in our sacrifice of service if our hearts are not abiding in His and our service does not do much if we forget the Spirit needs to empower it. That empowering comes through taking time to be still.
I always want to be so busy working and doing and progressing, but oftentimes, Jesus just wants me to be like Mary, sitting at His feet and listening. I need to be still, and know that He is God. Maybe God’s will for you, what He wants you to do when it seems like you’re doing nothing, is to wait on the Lord and draw closer to Him. Of all the places to be, after all, isn’t this the best?
So here are the three phases of God’s challenge to me and mine to you. Stop counting, get busy, but don’t let business substitute time for your relationship with God. Remember, God is never late but very often, we tend to run ahead of Him and His plan. So before you get carried away, as I often do, and throw a tantrum at God because you figure His schedule is lagging, remember that He can see the whole blueprint and you can’t even see the next step from your earthly vantage point.
James 4:8 says, “Draw nigh to God and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners, and purify your hearts, ye double minded.” The double-minded man does not even realize that he is double-minded. He thinks he’s just as secure as the next guy but he’s a hypocrite. He says his trust is in God but he runs around behind God’s back (figuratively speaking) making all kinds of plans, just in case God might drop the ball. It’s time to stop saying, like the double-minded man, “Yes God, whatever you want I’ll do…but I want it now.” It’s all or nothing – and that includes the timing.