Thursday, October 27, 2011
When God Is With You
On the very day the biggest Plan B of my life began, I happened to be reading an amazing (but awkwardly subtitled) book called Plan B: What Do You Do When God Doesn't Show Up The Way You Thought He Would? by Nashville pastor Pete Wilson. Many insights from this book have stuck with me, but none more so than the main question Wilson poses:
What would you do if you were absolutely confident God was with you?
As I've stepped out, tried new things, and taken more risks, I've asked myself this question more and more. Thinking about it in the abstract fills me with courage and hope. Because if I had total confidence that God was with me, I would be fearless - or at least know that I ought to be. In his sermon last week, my pastor talked about the prayers of the early Church, how God literally shook the building they were in to let them know that He was behind them and He was unstoppable. If I knew that God was guiding me completely, I wouldn't hesitate to act on things. It's just so hard to know whether my plans and hopes come from Him, or whether they'll end with life as I know it in ruins.
The hard thing is, that's not necessarily an either/or. When I think about confidence that God is with me, I naturally equate that with confidence in eventual success, because God can't fail. It's easy to forget that what we think of as success isn't always what He wants for us. He was with those early Christians in a powerful way - and most of them ended up martyred. So, translating that to 21st century America... if I were to (totally hypothetically) someday find a less stable, lower-paying job more in line with my interests and gifts, or even become a freelance writer or go back to school, that could in fact end with me broke, houseless, and without any short- or long-term security - and it could be exactly what God wants for me. It wouldn't necessarily mean that He wasn't "with me" when I made that decision. Comforting and helpful, huh?
For years, I've often wished that God would just tell me audibly what to do about things. But I stopped recently when I read Anthony DeStefano's book Ten Prayers God Always Says Yes To. He points out that throughout the Bible, God only spoke directly - via angels or in person - to those who had crucial roles in history, or extremely difficult jobs to do. He was very direct with them because they needed His strength and Presence to accomplish what He had prepared for them. The bottom line was to be careful what you wish for. :) With great power comes great responsibility, and all that. I can vouch for this in a small way through my own experiences.
In the end, even if we end up far from where we thought we'd be, if we belong to God, He is with us. And that's really all we need.