(I have a post titled “I am Not A Starving Artist” featuring at Godly Writers. I’d love for you to drop by and check it out!)
A few years ago, I signed up (successfully) to participate in a national beauty pageant.
I got involved because I saw an opportunity to start my dream – a nonprofit organization that builds peoples’ capacities.
Amazingly, the weekend I was to go into the Pageant house was the exact weekend that our church was hosting a huge missions conference. I was leader in church and my involvement was expected.
photo - intangiblearts (creative commons)
After a long struggle and lots of counsel, I decided to let go of the pageant opportunity and get involved with the conference.
At the conference and along with others, I cleaned the bathrooms and picked up after conference attendees. It was big mental shift -moving from the ‘high’ of pageantry to the ‘low’ of cleaning bathrooms.
All figured out
So often we think we have the dream process figured out. We have the plans and feel as though we should take every available opportunity for advancement.
In my case I had it all planned out. I was going in to win the competition. I could smell the launching of my dream, see lives impacted, see all my projects come alive.
But God had a different idea.
In the missions conference He gave me a new dream. New in the sense that He revamped the non-profit idea (actually tossed it aside) and showed me the big picture. He changed the way I look at life, dreams and purpose.
He made me understand that purpose is not something I manufacture or bring to pass in my own might. But that it’s something He puts in me. And it requires faith to see it come to pass.
Right now, I look back and am amazed at how huge that ‘small’ decision was. At that time, I was feeling so bad about letting go of the opportunity I couldn’t see straight. Certainly I couldn’t see the future.
I am living that ‘future’ now (and got ways to go). Laying down my will and plans opened the door for Him to begin to mold me and make me a person of faith, not just works. He re-directed my feet and now I am following His path, not my own.
Why ‘small’ decisions matter
1. Our plans are not God’s plan
So it makes sense to tread carefully, to walk slowly, to listen and observe.
I can’t tell you how many times my mouth has gotten me in trouble. Finally I’ve learned that sometimes the best thing to say is nothing. I now find myself getting comfortable with the idea of being considered timid, quiet, even foolish for keeping quiet rather than opening my mouth and discounting all doubt.
We don’t know everything. And we won’t know anything if all we rush through life and decisions.
This I’ve learned from hindsight – God knows better than we do. We must trust Him even when we don’t understand. We cannot be led of logic or emotions. We must rely on that still small voice, even when we aren’t too sure.
I’ve found it better to err on the side of truth than on the other side. I figure that if am wrong, God will find a way to let me know. In the meanwhile, am good hanging out on the sunny (undoubtedly right) side of things.
So trust God with that small seemingly insignificant detail. Flow with God, not with the majority (especially when that majority is you). Go with what is true for you, not what is appealing, possible.
Remember that just because a door swung open does not mean that you must walk through it. Sometimes we go knocking on wrong doors.
2. God will often surround us with counsel in our time of need.
But it’s up to us to take it.
Had I gone through with the pageant, I believe God would still have found a way to teach me the lessons I needed to learn some other way. I think it would have taken longer, some blessings delayed, the course of my life completely altered. And not really because it was a bad decision as such, just that it wasn’t God’s fit. It wasn’t in line with His direction for my life at that point.
Now, ‘my decision’ wasn’t based on personal brilliance and wisdom. I did listen to the Spirit yes but confirmation (with a megaphone) came from my mentor.
We may not always agree with everything a trusted friend or mentor has to say when we share our angsts, troubles and concerns. It’s true that they don’t know everything either and cannot see things exactly as we see them.
Guess what, good counsel won’t always leave us comfortable. It won’t cater to our tastes and opinions and comforts.
Looking back, I saw how impetuous and cocky I was in my pursuits. I was completely self reliant. But the tragedy was that I wasn’t even aware of it. Maybe my mentors picked up my immaturity. But one thing they told me “knowing you and knowing where God wants to take you, you should think deeper and consider your actions”
Actually they were more forthright than that, but that was their heart.
We need to be willing to accept that which makes us uncomfortable. We can’t dismiss counsel because it didn’t pamper our expectations. We must learn to lean into our pain. Dig deeper, live deeper, dive into details, slow down.
I remember my pastor used to say that he never understood why people came to him for advice and then went ahead and did the complete opposite of what they agreed. “If they didn’t want it, why did they come for it?”
Don’t just seek advice, harken to advice.
Have you surrendered, are you willing to let go of your preferences, comforts, delights, self and embrace His route, His way? Are you willing to offer obedience in place of sacrifice? Please share your thoughts in Comments