When God Says Differently: Finding Hope, Grace, and Peace in the Midst of Disappointment

This year started out really strong. I was confident that my path had finally been made clear. Business was booming and people were noticing my hard work. I even had a team of people around me, all of us working towards the same goal. This had been my prayer for years. I just wanted people, who shared common goals and ideas, to walk with me. I wanted my business to thrive! I set big goals and even bigger dreams. Surely, I was on the right track and God was blessing my hard work.

 The problem is that God had a different plan. James 4:13-17 says “13Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 16As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. 17If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.”

God does not have an actual issue with us making plans, but He does have an issue with us making plans above His own for us. The problem is that I tied my faith to my business plan. I said that if God is good, He will bless my work. But, my work was for my glory, profit, and honor, not for His. In my arrogance, I asked God to come along on my journey, when instead I should have asked to tag along on God’s adventure.

Now, I find myself at a crossroads of life once again. I am only 30, but I have a lifetime filled with the mistakes of going down the wrong road. No, seriously, those who know me, know that I get lost all the time. I could not find my own house without my GPS. I am the king of U-turns. This issue is only more confounded by the fact that my car has a horrible turn radius. I think the Titanic may have been able to out turn my car. This means my constant course corrections are quite the ordeal. It would be comical if it was not so true…and sad.

My car and mini adventures to the supermarket really sum up the rest of my life. Once I take a wrong turn, pride, commitment, and tenacity make it really hard for me to turn around. So, I continue down my path, hoping and praying that God will decide to follow me. All the while, God is calling out to me to stop, to turn around, to follow Him. Jesus refers to himself as  “the way the truth and the life,” in John 14:6. He did not come to earth and sacrifice Himself so that he could be resurrected by the Father, and then scurry off after us, wherever we wanted to go. No, he told us that we had to deny ourselves, pick up our cross, and follow Him (Matthew 16:24).

 

This is quite a different way of living than we are used to. We are taught from day one of our Christian walk, to pray and ask Jesus to be with us, but I am beginning to think that this is the wrong prayer. What we should be praying is that Jesus allows us to be with Him. As I began to rethink everything about my life, I realize that I have missed the whole “die to oneself” thing (Galatians 2:20). I live my life much like I did before I was saved, making plans to benefit myself.

Sure, as Christians, we all understand that we must die to ourselves, but what does that really mean? Do many of us really live that way? Yes, we give our tithe, serve on Sunday mornings. and occasionally hand a dollar bill to the homeless guy on the corner. But, what are we really willing to sacrifice? Most of us won’t even sacrifice the potential embarrassment of asking a friend to church.

Psalms 4:3 tells is that the godly are set apart from the rest of the world, so how then are we supposed to live? As I now find myself on the backside of another year, I must admit that I do not live set apart for God. I live for my business, my reputation, and the advancement of my own agenda.  Then, when things in my life turn south, I complain to God, bitterly asking Him why He is not with me.

Now, I think I am finally beginning to understand. Christ did not come so that He could be with us; He came so that we could be with Him. This difference is profound. God makes no promise to follow me and insure my success, as long as I go to church and thank Him from time to time. No, God asks that I give up everything and follow Him. Wow, talk about a new way of living! Being a Christian can’t be about living the same old life, following the same old pursuits. God’s plan is so much bigger than that. Just think, the God of the universe wants me to go on a journey with Him. That is awesome and powerful.

My whole life, I have been looking for something to be a part of. I have prayed that God sends me mentors, partners, and friends who would help open new and exciting doors with me. All the while, the God of the universe, has been inviting me to partner with Him. He has heard my prayers and said, “I will be your mentor, I will be your friend.” How could I have missed this? Now that my eyes are open, how can I turn down such an offer? I cannot, I will not.