Slacking is an understatement… I’m missing seven posts!!! This will only be 4 out of 19, but today is my third anniversary as a blogger so it’s the perfect day to get back on track. I’ve only hit my goal of going to the gym 4 times a week 3 out of 10 weeks so far, and I’m still carrying 19 extra pounds around every day, give or take a few. I have 9 weeks left of my challenge, and exactly 61 days, 21 hours, and 22 minutes until I graduate college.
I’m falling short of my personal goals I shared back in January, but I’ve never been happier. I’m still in love with student teaching, and on Valentine’s Day I was offered my dream job teaching English at my alma mater in the fall. I’m going to be a teacher!!! Amazing, truly, especially when I reflect on who I was three years ago today.
I remember sitting in my dorm room, raw from another break up with my high school boyfriend, and determined to finally take my life back and make some positive changes. I opened my WordPress.com account and decided I’d start K-Love’s 30 Day Challenge the next day.
I’m not sure I’ve ever told anyone this, but when I was a senior in high school I sent in a desperate prayer request to K-Love to lift my college experience and how my family would pay for it up to the Good Lord above. I was so desperate, broken, and confused back then. I convinced myself to outwardly be set on what I wanted to study and be, but inside I knew I was trying way too hard to be something and someone I wasn’t.
Today, I’m sitting in the same room I was as a senior in high school, four years older and wiser, full of gratitude knowing God heard many a prayer warrior’s prayer for my life and placed me right where I needed to be each and every day of my college career. Now I wonder, how much of my life today is because of God’s plan for me and how much is because of the choices I made?
I see two Old Testament verses shared over and over again in regards to God’s will for the lives of his people: Proverbs 16:3 and Jeremiah 29:11.
“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.”
– Jeremiah 29:11
Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and He will establish your plans.
– Proverbs 16:3
These verses become a comfort and peace (and a cute phone background/header photo) for many people, as they should, but in my reflection of my own life, I wanted to dig deeper into the contexts of these verses. I do not believe that I can simply exist, believe in Christ, and God will provide everything I need and more.
I know what you’re thinking: as a Christian, I don’t have to earn the Father’s love, forgiveness, and acceptance. Christ’s blood shed on the cross is a free gift that I and all of my brothers and sisters win Christ don’t deserve and never will. I know that and thank God for that day after day, sin after sin.
Being saved is amazing – you know, “Amazing Grace.” However, after a person has been saved, life doesn’t become carefree and easy. Bad things still happen, and in the worst of the bad times, even the most devout Christians find themselves asking WHY and questioning God’s plan. I was saved and baptized in sixth grade, as I’ve shared before, but I didn’t nurture my relationship with Christ until three years ago today. And let me tell you, I’ve seen all of the bad and the good a relationship with Christ has to offer, and then some, in the last three years.
I’ve questioned God’s plan for me, and I’ve rejoiced in it. Every day, I’ve made choices, sometimes leading to sin, sometimes leading to God’s will. Really it depends on the day because I am human. I am ALIVE, and because I am living, I rule my own life.
“But Jess! God is your creator! He rules your life! How can you say that? Surrender to Him!!!”
I hear ya, and my life is surrendered to God. He woke me up today, for which I am thankful, but I chose to get out of bed. I chose to brush my teeth, and I chose not to go to church today. I chose to talk with my mom and have a lazy Sunday morning instead, and now I am choosing to write this post.
Does God anticipate my every move and know when I’m going to choose to go to the gym or not, for example? I’m not sure. I’ve seen evidence in my own life that supports either answer to that question, and it’s definitely on my list of things to ask the Big Guy when I finally meet Him face to face.
My point isn’t the answer to that question because none of us on Earth will know the answer in our time here. Living for God in accordance to His plans for you is dependent on the choices you make each day. That’s my point. We see it in both Proverbs 16 and Jeremiah 29.
Proverbs 16 has eight verses, the first of which gives adequate enough context to the commonly shared verse 3. Verse 1 says this, “To humans belong the plans of the heart, but from the Lord comes the proper answer of the tongue.” Our heart’s desires are OURS, but when we let the Lord into our lives, our desires become synonymous with His desires and are reflected as such in our lives. That’s where verse 3 comes in – if we commit everything we do to glorifying God, He will carry us through life in OUR plans, which He establishes.
Verse 4 reiterates God as the one who works everything out, even the bad days. Verse 5 cautions those who don’t believe in His will in their lives: they will be punished. Verse 6 touches on the Gospel and says that God-fearing people will avoid evil. Verses 7 tells us that when the Lord delights in his people making conscious choices to live for Him, their enemies will no longer terrorize them. And verse 8 reminds us it’s better to have less by God than more by the way of this world.
Choose God every day in every decision you make, and His will will be done through your plans.
Jeremiah 29 is a letter to God’s people who had been exiled to Babylon. To summarize this chapter of the Bible, God’s people who have been carried into exile are scared and confused, but God tells them to live their lives in Babylon like normal. He tells them to make choices to build houses, settle down, get married, and start families. He wanted them to CHOOSE to live instead of wallowing in their misunderstanding of His plans for them for 70 years. He knew the plans He had for them (our commonly known verse 11), and in verse 12-13 He says, “Then you will call on Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart.”
Does that sound familiar? Just as in Proverbs 16, God tells his people to make their hearts’ desire LIVING for Him. Living is an action. Living is doing, and doing something, or not, is a choice. Jeremiah 29 again tells us to make choices for the glory of God, and He will take care of us, even when we’re in a place of total misunderstanding like the people exiled from Jerusalem to Babylon. And again, those who don’t believe in God’s will for their lives – the false prophets – will be punished (a lot more detailed in verses 21-23).
Three years ago, God and I had a big misunderstanding. His will for me was no longer studying journalism at Mizzou as I was so sure it was, revealed to me by my parents, and instead He wanted me to study secondary English education at the University of Central Missouri, revealed to me by my high school boyfriend a day before he broke up with me (again).
Out of respect for my mother and father (hello Commandment 6) and the nudge I needed from someone who’s opinion I once valued so much (which God knew and used just one last time… well played, Big Guy), I chose a new major and school for myself. And I worked my butt off, taking all of the right classes, making all of the right connections, and gaining all of the right experience, to make my new dream and plan for myself my reality. And through it all, I consciously sought God’s will for my life, looking towards Him on the good and the bad days, something I’d never done before.
How much of my life today is because of God’s plan for me and how much is because of the choices I made?
I don’t know because I am so in love with what I am doing student teaching and what I will get to do in the fall that I can’t tell where my life ends and God’s will for me begins. To really live for God, we must die to ourselves. I did that for real three years ago, and I’ve documented my journey on this blog. I haven’t always made the right decisions, but I think that’s where God’s plan comes in. He didn’t create me to be perfect. He created me to be a light by my choices and His will. It’s a relationship.