When God Blows Up Your Too Small Agenda
I've always lived in the future.
Soon I'll be able to read like all of the big kids.
Soon I'll be able to drive and get a job.
Soon I'll go away to college and be a teacher.
Any day now I'll be married. Have a baby.
I'll finally be happy when Guardians of the Galaxy 2 comes out...
For 31 years I projected away my life. Fixated on days which had not yet happened, living for the moment when my flawless plans would be complete. Until the day came (completely without my permission) when I was forced to contemplate Proverbs 27:1:
Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.
Ominous words Lord, ominous words.
On a chilly April evening in 2011 as we drove home from a weekend youth activity, my husband of almost nine years told me he was leaving. He minced no words. "We're getting a divorce," he said as if we were stopping to pick up a pizza or put gas in the car. I saw the hardness in his set mouth as a passing car's lights shone on his suddenly unrecognizable face.
We do not know what a day may bring. Apparently, a day may bring Donald Trump? A terrorist attack or a plane crash. An earthquake or a hurricane. A day may bring nothing unusual. Or something that changes you forever.
All my careful planning had somehow led to this time-stopping moment. I married the Bible major whom I met at Bible college. I was the youth pastor's wife. My very identity as a Christ-follower is opposed to this course of action. Divorce? No thank you. This is not a part of my plan. My future does not include the identity "divorcee".
Nothing strikes fear into your heart like the last thing you imagined in the world reigning down on you with no end in sight. What now?
Nothing was real anymore. Nothing was right. I doubt my ability to make correct decisions. To be in control of my own life. To lead the ship in the direction I so choose. I was walking through a fog so dense that I could not see my own hand frantically waving for help in front of my very own eyes.
I was forced from the skydiving plane and dropped into a broad and endless desert. A "season" which will never truly end on this side of eternity. Divorce.
Since that day five years ago, I have loosely held peace. Hope. Love. Trusting in a good and loving God, while fearing the pain that comes with living this earthly life. Walking the tightrope of faith while fearing the failure of falling off. Falling again into the unexpected. The abyss of endless rejection, betrayal, and loss. I can't go down there again. I can't survive another round with that roaring lion riding my back and sending his snake to whisper vicious and continual lies in my ear.
The only viable and embraceable choice I have is to live in the here and now. To put aside my meticulously planned future. Those purely personal goals and ambitions. To lay down my life for God in this present moment. To see what He has just one step ahead and live it fully.
Kelly Balarie's new book Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears includes an entire chapter titled: Discovering the Power of Now. The landscape of now is a place we must stop and recognize for exactly what it is: a place that fear can't live.
"When I really stop to think about it, I can't help but notice yesterday is gone, done, finished, complete. Tomorrow, also encapsulates everything a fearer fears. But today holds a new horizon of opportunity. It is like a blank canvas, able to portray any image that God deems right for it. I can enter today ready to be changed."
It's been a long time since I thought about the opportunity held in just one day. The power of today. God shares His heart for this way of thinking in James 4:13-15. He details our true lack of control and His immensely larger love for us and our well-being.
Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make profit"- yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that."
On a chilly winter Wednesday a few weeks ago, this passage ironically came from the pulpit and into my soul to be woven together as only God can weave.
"Hold your plans humbly," he preached. "We don't know our future. We can't see the big picture. Who are we to tell an Almighty God what our plans are?"(Listen to the full sermon. Starts 24 minutes into this video.)
Instead, let God lead. He alone is the plan maker. He alone drives out fear and wraps us in love on this very day. In this present moment. At the time He always knew we would embrace Him.
When the preacher exclaims, "God is not afraid to blow up your agenda if it's too small for his glory," I realize how God has absolutely blown up every bit of my "too small" plans. My finite mind can't even see two steps ahead. I can't see an intricate and perfect plan for the future, all I can see is right here, right now.
God's plans for me are so much bigger and more meaningful than I can even imagine. Why don't I see that?
My fear of the future suggests that I don't trust God. That I think He's incapable of taking care of me. This inaccuracy regarding God's true identity could serve to derail me from the path that God has given me TODAY.
Kelly calls it an "opportunity". This blank canvas of right-now-land has to be ready for God's glorious painting of our present moments.
Let's stop fearing the future and live in the right now. Let's at least give it a try!
Let's stop mistrusting an ever trustworthy God and instead say, If the Lord wills, I will do this or that TODAY. For who knows what events a single day may bring?
My burning fear of the future is extinguished when I zero in on the power of now. Today. An opportunity for growth, for God, for love, for life unimaginable.