Saturday, April 22, 2017

Why Can't I Have Their Life?

“If God made you special; why did He?”

My students tried their best to answer the “why” question, drawing from the last lesson about God making them in His image and thus they are special.

“Because I am made in His image.”

“Yes, but why did He make you in His image? Why are you here on earth?”

“To worship Him.”

“To serve Him.”

“True, but why did God make you?”

They were stumped. I grinned just as one might before revealing a super big and exciting secret.

“Because God has a plan for your life.”

I illustrated with a key and a padlock – they are the key and the padlock is God’s plan for them. One without the other is not useful and keys cannot be interchanged with other padlocks.

A key is designed for one padlock. The point: You were made on purpose for a purpose.

You were made ON purpose!

God planned, designed, and created you for a very unique plan, and you or your plan cannot be exchanged for anyone else and God’s unique plan for them.

My life is running quite different than I “planned.” As a wee lass, I dreamed of becoming a radio disc jockey or a famous writer or a celebrated detective. Those aspirations were as “big” as my small mind and heart could manage.

I didn’t foresee being a former-journalist-turned-untrained-teacher, living across the world, and teaching young people who are very different from me in nearly every way. I did not anticipate that going barefoot or wearing flip-flops and skirts would be my norm when I used to hate all of them. ;) Eating beans daily was not a perk I expected, though I have always loved beans! Growing up I couldn’t stand cold weather and hardly tolerated any play in the snow; perhaps God designed my body for warmer, equatorial climates.

Living halfway across the world from my family and some of my dearest friends was not on my radar 10 years ago.

Perhaps like many of us I compare my life with others, especially when they appear to be receiving or achieving what is not yet mine – marriage, children, university degrees, a house, speaking languages fluently, being taller or thinner or richer or tanner, or having a different nose.

Granted, some of these I lack because of my own choices; others are ones God may or may not give me.

I wonder what God thinks when I compare my life to others?

“Ruthie, I am writing your story. I designed your character to fit inside the plot I am unfolding. Don’t jump and change characters or plot lines. Your story is as unique as you are.”

What if Peter had compared his life with his Old Testament heroes?

“God, why can’t I ride a flaming chariot like Elijah?” “Is there a reason you don’t continue to appear in a burning bush to give me directions?” “I have to go to the market again. Why not send manna and meat as You used to?”

What if Paul had questioned God’s plan for him?

“Umm, God, was it really Your idea I be shipwrecked, arrested, imprisoned, left for dead? I mean look at John, he is exiled on an island, but that seems way more peaceful and desirable than my present circumstances – chained between two Roman guards.”

Sure, the Biblical saints struggled, doubted, and questioned God’s paths for them. Just this morning I read about Jeremiah wishing he had died in his mother’s womb. Really? Wow.

I wonder if such questioning grieves God as our doubts reveal our lack of trust in Him.

The problem is I and the rest of us humans are short-sighted. We can look back on our past, and we can see today, but we can’t catch a glimpse beyond life’s next curve. We are somewhere in the middle of the story, but we don’t know how it will keep unfolding, and how or when we will reach the climax.

I once heard there will come a day, likely after we’ve left earth and entered our eternal home, that we’ll look back on our lives and say, “I wouldn’t change a thing.”

For some it may be a difficult thought to process, especially considering the challenges, pain, struggles, losses, and hardships we have had and will still encounter. But, somehow God in His incredible sovereignty can weave all the good and the bad and the ugly of our lives and stories into a beautiful pattern – for our good and for His glory.

I can’t even wrap my mind around it. It’s just too far above my pea-brain and too far out for my short-sightedness.

But, walking with God is a walk of faith. Trusting a God I cannot see to lead me on a path I do not know toward a future I’ve only ever heard about.

When God called me to Uganda 8 years ago, He assured me with this verse:

“By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.” Hebrews 11:8

(Incidentally, I used this verse as the inspiration for this blog’s title.)

God told Abraham to go – leave his home and country and go. Genesis 12 tells us God commanded Abraham to leave his country and kindred and father’s house “to the land that I will show you.”

It’s my understanding that in Middle Eastern culture, families stick together – for generations, and they generally stay in the same area for a long, long time. What God asked Abraham to do was entirely counter-cultural and far outside the norm.

Can you imagine Abraham trying to explain to his relatives? And, they might respond, “Okay, you’re leaving our home and family and livelihood, but where are you going? At least give us a clue so we can forward your mail.”

“I don’t know,” he might reply, “but God does. I don’t need to know, I just need to obey. God will show me the place and the people at the right time. He has told me what I need to know right now.”

He went, not knowing where he was going. And, God used Abraham’s trust-filled obedience in ways Abraham could never dream of.

“I will make of you a great nation...I will bless you and make your name great...You will be a blessing...and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

Wowsa. What amazing and incredible promises!

Would those have been granted if Abraham had chosen his own path or decided to stay in Ur or Haran? Maybe not. True, Abraham later tampered with God’s agenda, but he didn’t derail it.

Yes, God’s plan for Abraham is different than the ones He has for you and I – but no less special or important or good.

Looking back, I don’t want those long-ago small, childish dreams. I want God to keep writing my story and leading the way and choosing my path.

His ways are the best.

You were made on purpose for a purpose. Seek the Author of your story.

(P.S. Check out the "quotables" on the right for some of my favorite quotes on this topic.)

1 comment:

  1. ~ Ruthie

    My husband and I are new to the Bridge. We saw and prayed for you that day before you left this last time. We're in Community Group with your parents. I've talked to them about you and Uganda and they've been very sweet to answer my questions.
    In short, I just wanted to thank you for this blog post. I'm having similar issues of doubt because I feel like God has put Africa in my heart but I cannot see how it will work out. For now, I am grateful to be able to pray for you and I'm looking forward to learning more about your journey through this blog.
    God bless.