Thursday, June 15, 2006

You Are Exactly Where You're Supposed to Be

Do you ever feel like life has just passed you by?

Or, even worse - that you are further behind (in life, in your finances, in your marriage prospects) than you ought to be?

Oh, the world of regrets. Sometimes this world can be more fruitful than our real, everyday lives!

I’ve often been guilty of this phenomenon myself. People will say something to me like, you’re so lucky to have advanced in your career as far as you have. And I will (predictably) say something like, yes, I’m happy about where I am, but I wish I had started trying to advance my career much earlier in life. Think of how much further along I’d be! (And this line of thinking carries over into how much money I’ve managed to save, how close I am to God or how much travel I’ve done in my life.) It’s a common pitfall for us all.

You can see this way of thinking clearly when it comes to people investing their money. Many people will buy a stock and avidly watch its upward (and downward) progression on the stock exchange. Any upswings are greeted with joy and exhilaration. Any downswings with pessimism and dismay. And you know what people seem to remember the most? How much they would have had if a) some economic crisis hadn't occurred; b) if they had sold their stock and re-bought it when the price had dropped; or c) how much money they would have had the stock not lost some (or all) of its value. In other words, they don’t see their increased portfolio balance so much as a gain, but as a loss of where they could have been had things been different. Does this sound like you?

What a waste of time! Even if you've never done it with money, I bet you've done it with some other area of your life. Instead of seeing your life in terms of what you have gained - the goodness and mercy of God, better health or wealth, or a well-functioning, blended family - you see it in terms of where you think you should be - a minister instead of a deacon, a 3K instead of a 5K runner or a possessor of a long-term marriage instead of a divorcee with a great second spouse. Why, oh why do we do this to ourselves?

Someone once said that happiness is wanting what you have. Do you want what you have? Would you be happier if you knew that where you are is exactly where you are supposed to be? And, as a consequence - that what you have is exactly what you are supposed to have?

I know it would go a long way with me.

If the idea that you are exactly where you are supposed to be would make you happy, I've got good news for you! Here it is - you are exactly where you are supposed to be!

How do I know?

Well, first of all, you have the benefit of all my frustrated prayers to God - where I would question His wisdom in telling me I was to accomplish certain things, but would make me wait so long for those things to happen. Or where I would question Him about different situations that had come up in my life (parental neglect, bad relationships) and ask Him why those things had to happen. Wouldn't I have been much better off, I often ended, if my life had just gone more smoothly? If I had started publicly writing in my 20's instead of in my 30's? Wouldn't things be much better for me, I would ask, if I just could have gotten an earlier start in life?

And He always reminds me of why the answer is always the same - No.

He's nice about it and all, don't get me wrong. As He gently brings to my remembrance my immaturity in my 20s (when I wasn't fit to write advice for myself, much less for anyone else), and the important lessons I learned about self-esteem and self-love from having been emotionally neglected as a child, He's patient, kind and loving. As He reminds me how I've grown in compassion and patience through failed relationship after failed relationship and learning from my mistakes, I slowly start nodding my head in agreement. And, finally, He reviews with me how I've spent more time with Him as a result of being single all this time, and how my singleness has contributed to my being in tune with Him. And how all these things have allowed Him to shape me in His own way, in His own way and in His own timing. To (finally) be ready to be in ministry under His terms and not my own.

And I have to agree that He is right.

But, way more important than my own personal experiences are clues that the Bible gives about our destiny in Christ. After God reminds me of the importance of waiting for His timing, I am often drawn to this scripture in Isiah:
Isa 55:6 Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Isa 55:7 Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. Isa 55:8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.Isa 55:9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.Isa 55:10 For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: Isa 55:11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.
Which reminds me that I don't know as much as God does (no matter how logical or inspired my thinking may be) and that I cannot always understand why He does what He does because I'm not God. And never will be. But, it also reassures me that His word has had the desired effect in my life - to make me into the woman of God He would have me to be. And that there is a purpose in it all.

And then I consider this scripture in Jeremiah:
Jer 1:4 Then the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Jer 1:5 Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.
Which always blows my mind - to think that God knew me even before I was born! And shaped and created me to be exactly the way He wanted me to be. And that, before I were even born, He had a plan for me. That is Awesome!

King David trusted in God implicitly and made many declarations of dependence and reliance upon God. Psalms 16:11, he said 'Thou wilt shew me the path of life:' Because David knew that God would guide Him in all the important areas of life. If he relied upon Him. So it makes me more inclined to follow God myself - knowing that He will lead and guide me as well.

King Solomon reinforced the image of God's guidance and leading in Proverbs 3:5-6, where he says: 'Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.' And the 'path' in this scripture means "a well trodden road (literally or figuratively); also a caravan: - manner, path, race, rank, traveller, troop, [by-, high-] way". So, from this, I can know that God will direct me in this race of life as I travel along life's road.

So, with all this leading and guiding that God does, doesn't it make sense to assume that He is leading us all with a purpose? To a destiny that He has already planned out for us?

Romans 8:28-30 puts the icing on the cake for me when it says:
Rom 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. Rom 8:29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.Rom 8:30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
We always remember the part of this scripture about all things working together for good for those of us who are called, but we often fail to add the part about God's foreknowledge of us and his predestination for us. This is not to imply that we have no choice in how our lives are lived - we do - but it does suggest that as we submit to God's leading, we will fall in line with His glorious plan for each of our lives. Which will put us - you guessed it - exactly where we are supposed to be!

It always gives me great joy to remember all these scriptures and to contemplate the fact that God thought about me even before I was born and planned a unique and special life for me. He knew me, He knows me and He will always be available to lead and guide me along life's roads - even when I feel like I'm in a rut, at a standstill or wandering in the wilderness. And that is the same for you as well - He knows you, He knows where you are and He knows where He intends for you to be. The path you are on may not look exactly like the road you thought you were going to take, but rest assured it is the path that you were destined to be on.

And, finally, in Jeremiah 29:11, God clearly tells us that He has good plans for our lives. It says ' 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 hope and a future (NIV)' Now in the King James Version, this verse ends with the words 'expected end'. And the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary tells us that this 'expected end' "literally means, 'end and expectation,' that is, an end, and that such an end as you wish for".

So if you had no reason to rejoice before, this verse alone should give you reason! Not only does God lead and guide you and have a Master Plan for your life, He is telling you that His plans for hyou are good and that He wants to give you the end that you desire. And wouldn't that be great!

So, I don't know about you, but I am guessing that I will learn to be content right where I am - especially since this is exactly where God wants me to be! I hope you feel the same way :)

Be Blessed.

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Anonymous said...

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

from another anonymous person: that was a great piece! You hit it on the nail with this topic. We all complain about where we could be, or where we think we should be, but if we would just lean on the Lord and His ways, we will come to understand that we are exactly where we're supposed to be!

Thanks for providing your insightful words on this topic. It has really made my afternoon!

sonya said...

You are welcome!

I often write these posts because of commonalities in all of our experiences. I know I've experienced great periods of dissatisfaction in my life, so I'm sure you all have too! But it's so good to know that God has a reason, a purpose and a season for us all! I truly believe this and I truly believe that He is looking out for us (even if it doesn't always feel like it). So, be encouraged, and know that it will all make sense in the end!

Anonymous said...

Thank you I really needed to be reminded about where God wants me to be. God Bless you!

Annette said...

well thought out. Good post.

Karl Grey said...

Hi Sonya
Sometimes we need to be reminded to trust in the process and to be patient.
Thanks for the article

Anonymous said...

This was so feeling so low right now. But at least i have some bit of strength and hope after reading your post. At times i wonder whether where am and what am doing is the right thing...for many years i prayed to God to help me study abroad and he has given me the opportunity. And yet now the indifference from people, the homesickness and challenges in my academic pursuit are making me question the saying, "You are right where you are supposed to be"

Anonymous said...

Right on point...inspiring. A gentle reminder of what we already know but refuse to believe. Be blessed.

Anonymous said...

Came across this post when I was at my lowest. I started to lose hope in the pursuit of chasing my dreams. But now I'm confident that I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be. And I'm certain that as long as I stay the course and keep the faith, I will always end up right where He intends me to be. Thank you for this reminder! It's really inspiring and empowering.