This semester has been a wreck- not in an entirely bad way, but in such a way that there is still beauty in the broken pieces and perhaps this wreck will eventually become a monumental piece of art in Jessie history.
What is the true cause of this wreck, you may ask? Simple.
The answer is God.
Now hold up. I’m not blaming Him, accusing Him, or talking negatively about Him. He is to thank for this wreck because without it, I’d still be living in fear, relentless pressure, and maybe even twisted theology.
The truth that He has been revealing to me gradually over the past couple of months involves choices. Let’s face it- life is full of them. I can’t even get out of my bed in the morning without making at least one choice (which is usually choosing to even get out of bed at all). What I’m typing to you guys is so real to me and still very fresh. I don’t know everything and I’m sure that God can flip my thoughts entirely upside down in a matter of seconds. Just hear me out and see if maybe this is the answer you’ve been looking for but never were told.
Back story: I applied for an internship in January. More specifically, I applied for my dream internship. The job description, the environment, the organization was everything I had dreamt of. This internship was like my Disney World. I believed wholeheartedly that God was leading me to this internship so I planned my whole summer in faith that He would work this out and let me go. It made perfect sense for me to go and I knew my All-loving Daddy gives His children the desire of their hearts (Psalm 37:4). Why wouldn’t I be accepted? It looked like God literally planted this internship in my lap and there was nothing that could stop this (what I presumed to be His plan) from happening.
Long story short: I got rejected by the organization last night.
These past few months have almost looked like a cycle that has still not fully returned to the beginning. I began with wholehearted trust in God. Then waiting followed. More waiting. A little bit of doubting. Some crying here and there. Then A LOT of doubting, which turned into anger at Him. Then praising Him despite the doubt and finding joy in Him despite the confusion. Until last night’s news came, which was pretty much the despair portion of this cycle. And now I’m at the stage where I’m learning to trust Him again regardless but I know there is still quite a bit of doubt, confusion, and mixed feelings inside of me.
The thing that I’ve been learning through this, along with the other serious choices I’ve been faced with lately, is that not everything is black and white. I always thought that proper theology taught we need to follow God’s leading in obedience and that’s it. That was what I believed and held on to for dear life.
Now I’m realizing there’s a lot of grey area. A LOT. For example, where do both free will and predestination come into play? Now that I know I’m not doing the internship, I have to decide what I will do with my summer.
Do I get a job? Do I continue working at my church? Do I just relax and be lazy? Do I register for summer classes? Do I find a new ministry? Do I have a summer romance?
Even more important, why isn’t God revealing what I need to do? Why has he let me walk down this path of complete dedication to this internship I assumed I’d be accepted into? Why didn’t he intervene and let me sign up for summer classes earlier or start applying for jobs? Why didn’t he spare me the pain and confusion and the awful waiting?
If there’s a right path for me, then what is it? That’s the question I’ve been asking God.
And this is where the grey area comes in because maybe it all comes down to me just having to choose. That’s a scary thought because all my life, I just assumed God had the best plan picked out for me and everything I did had to align with that plan. But that sort of thinking is wrong because where’s the free will in that? We are not slaves; we are beings made with creativity and interests and passions. Yes, God does know best and He does lead us to where we need to be, but why does that mean we have to lose the power to choose?
Instead of seeing God as holding out two different options and asking me to pick the best one, the one that will make Him happy, I think God is really just holding out many different options and asking me to pick what I want to do. Granted, I’m not going to pick a life of stripping at the club because I know that’s definitely not His will for me. But I’m not going to just wait for the “right” thing to plop into my lap either.
I was reading Ezekiel 15 this morning where God is referring to the Israelites as a “useless vine” because they have fallen away from Him and have been unfaithful to Him. Instead of bearing righteousness, the fruit they were created to bear, they were running to all the wrong things. The last verse in that chapter really spoke to me.
I will make the land desolate because they have been unfaithful, declares the Sovereign Lord (v.8).
The Israelites were a community that contained just as much creativity, passion, and free will as we see people have today. Some people were craftsmen. Others were musicians. Some just simply grew food for their family day in and day out. The point is that they were called to bear righteousness, but they were called to do so in different ways. And my guess is that they chose how they wanted to do that. The reason why God was upset with the Israelites is because they were unfaithful and chose sin. If they had continued doing what they were doing instead of idolizing other gods and things, I know God would have been happy with His children. It was their faithfulness that mattered.
Look at Abraham. In Genesis 12, God told Abraham to leave his country and go to a land He will show him. He didn’t even reveal the destination! He just told him to walk in faith. Later on in Genesis 15, it says about Abraham that he “believed the Lord, and it was credited to him as righteousness” (v. 6).
Notice that it says Abraham’s belief in God was what bore that righteousness, not making all the right moves and knowing everything God had planned for him.
It’s the faithfulness that’s key. I might have all the choices in the world to make and none of the answers, and that’s okay. What matters is, am I being faithful to God? Am I trusting that He’ll open doors that need to be opened and shut doors that need to be closed? Am I going where He leads me but still maintaining a faith even if He doesn’t seem to be leading me anywhere?
Do I trust that He loves me enough to let me choose things for myself and make decisions, let me make mistakes, let me live out my passions and enjoy what I enjoy?
Sometimes we think He’s walking ahead of us on a path He has designed for us. What if He really is walking next to us on a path He is designing with us?
Yes, there’s a lot of grey area. We never truly will be able to comprehend this whole concept of free will mixed with predestination and a whole bunch of other theological terms. What we can grasp on to, however, is His love for us. And as we walk with Him, we must not forget how deep that love goes and how far it is carried as we press on in this life. The decisions you make, the places you go will not change that.
He loves you just as much today as He ever has and ever will. Because of that, you can walk in freedom.