You ever felt ashamed that your life hasn’t turned out like you hoped? That your life hasn’t amounted to any of your expectations, despite how realistic and attainable they are? Ever felt embarrassed when people ask what you’ve done/are doing with your life?
I have. And I currently do.
We think there’s a certain goal we have to reach by certain ages. Like when you graduate high school, you’ll already know exactly what you’re going to do with the rest of your life. When you graduate college, you’ll already have your dream job and the perfect fiancé. Well, guess what? Life doesn’t work that way. We will not all have the same life. Some may graduate with a great job and fiancé or spouse, but not everyone will. Not everyone will reach the same milestone at the same points in life.
“You don’t have to have everything figured out by a certain age. God’s plan is not limited by your timeline.” Morgan Harper Nichols
God didn’t create us all the same. He made us equal as human beings, that’s a given, but I am far different from my brother who is far different than one of our cousins who is far different than his wife. We are not the same. We have different passions and talents, different likes and dislikes, different skills and things we are simply terrible at. Some will wear a suit and tie, working a 9 to 5, and others will be more nomadic and free-spirited, doing what they please. Some will spend their lives on mission fields serving the lost and others will stand in court defending the oppressed, while others will be teaching and training today’s youngsters. We all have different trajectories in life. They may cross paths, but we will not have the same life, which in turn means the things we do, the things we obtain and accomplish, will not happen at the same time as each other.
Don’t let anyone – a parent, sibling, teacher, stranger, friend, enemy – look down upon you for the expectations they have for you; to see you as less than because you haven’t done or are doing the same things they are. I do get embarrassed and even ashamed that as a post-grad of two years I still cannot find work. Heck, I can barely find anyone willing to interview me! That does make me feel poorly about myself. But the opinions of others should not matter. They might have their dream job. They might be married and living the good life by their own definition. I might be jobless, single, and struggling to make ends meet, but that doesn’t mean I am any less than them and my life any less worthy. It simply means God has a different direction He wants to take me. Doesn’t always make it easier to accept that, but at least I know He is still divinely in control of it all.
We’ve heard and read the verse before (kind of become a Christian stereotype, sadly) but let me just remind you:
” ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.’ ” Jeremiah 29:11 NIV
God sees all and knows all. For Him to make a statement such as this shouldn’t be ignored or brushed off. He means it. God does not want us to fail and be harmed, to be hopeless and feel worthless. God is the complete opposite. But in the culture we live in, everything is demanded ASAP. I think by now we should know that things don’t always go as planned and they don’t always happen fast. God is always working, but in order to see His promises fulfilled, we will have to wait. We will have to learn patient endurance and truly seek Him.
“I know that You can do all things; no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.” Job 42:2 NIV
Job cried this out in submission to God after much dialogue between he and his friends, and God Himself. Talk about a wreck of life. Job lived righteously, he did what was right, he did what was good, and then it all got taken away. I can somewhat sympathize with the guy. I’ve not had loss like his – all his possessions but even more so, his own children – but I’ve strived to do right by God, to honor Him with my plans, to work towards bringing Him glory with a career that I felt certain He was calling me to only to have it all fall apart. Only to have all my efforts seemingly go to waste. To be completely alone and the few that are around, they just don’t understand my heartache. But like Job is declaring here, even though he couldn’t see what God was doing and only saw his messy, painful circumstances, confused as to why it was taking place, Job knew nothing could keep God’s plan from happening.
Nothing is unforeseen to God. His promises, His purpose, will always come to fruition, and what we see as a mess full of heartache, God sees as an opportunity to do something extraordinary.
God restored to Job all that was taken and more, just like He restored to Ruth provision beyond what she imagined. He is known to restore and bless His children greater than they had thought; greater than what they previously had.
“Surely, LORD, You bless the righteous; You surround them with Your favor as with a shield.” Psalm 5:12 NIV
“Our lives are in His hands, and He keeps our feet from stumbling.” Psalm 66:9 NLT
“Blessed is she who has believed that the LORD would fulfill His promises to her!” Luke 1:45 NIV
My life has not turned out as I hoped. As an eighteen-year-old high school graduate, I never would have imagined that six years later my life would have played out the way it has. I can never know what will happen ahead. Even though my plans have not come to pass and I’ve watched friends and strangers lead lives filled with things I’ve dreamed of, I need to watch myself. I need to not be jealous of their life but instead use the life I do have for God’s glory. That’s really what my life is to be about.
It’s not about me, about what I want, meeting my expectations or impressing other people; it’s all about God.
How He chooses to use me in His grand plan, the path He guides me on in life, I’ve yet to find out. But that’s okay. God has not forsaken me and is clearly working on things behind some thick curtains. Just because my days are uneventful and usually I awake to more job rejections, doesn’t mean that I don’t have a future. It just means I’m waiting on God’s promises to pass. Some days it is quite a bit easier to write it out than to live it out. I know this truth, yet sometimes it’s difficult to really believe it. I have to choose to believe it. I have to choose to trust in His plan for my life, and not want or compare it to the plan of other people’s lives. I have to choose to embrace the life I have, even though it’s not ideal, and be responsible with what God has given me.
“One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much,” Luke 16:10a ESV
“For the LORD your God will bless you as He has promised.” Deuteronomy 15:6a NIV
When God finally reveals His promises to me, I’m betting it’ll leave me speechless, and likely quite glad that what I thought I wanted and what I had planned didn’t happen, because it left plenty of room for God to move in amazing ways, ways that are better than anything I could conjure.