By nature, I am a planner. I like to know what to expect and become anxious when I am not entirely sure what will come about. For example, the act of opening presents makes me nervous, speaking in front of a group without meticulously constructing each sentence I will utter is a rarity, and I already have items scheduled in my calendar for 2014. I struggle to deal with unplanned events in my life as they reveal my own desire for comfort and control.
As my church began a series through the book of Nehemiah, we began discussing Nehemiah’s vision for the rebuilding of the wall in Jerusalem. This consisted of prayer at every step of the way, but also casting a vision, planning, building, and actively fighting against oppression and sin in order to carry out the tasks to which God called Nehemiah. When we began discussing the concept of planning, my brain freaked out a little. For so long, I have striven to stop planning, maintaining the notion that the vision I casted for my life simply came from selfish ideals. After years of longing for marriage, a family, and prosperity to which I felt entitled, I associated long term vision as sinful, demanding that my life look a certain way and fall in line with my idea of comfort.
So, how do I respond to the call to cast a vision in a biblical way, rather than out of selfish ambition? First, as Nehemiah did I must pray, asking God to reveal brokenness around me, thoroughly examining my own heart, community, and world. For a few years now, I felt God calling me to minister to and disciple college students. God did a great work in me as a college student…saving me and growing me through numerous individuals. Since then, He has continued stretch me and transform the way that I view Him and how He views me. Only a year ago, 12 years after becoming a believer, I still believed that God was a controlling dictator of sorts, punishing me when I failed, and mocking and pitying me in my suffering. My world shattered when I finally experienced the reality of my identity in Christ, perfectly whole, loved, comforted, and beautiful. I found rest from making my entire life about myself, manipulating others to earn praise, and hiding my struggles out of fear of rejection.
Though I felt God drawing me to disciple college women, I found myself wanting to push it to the back burner, fearing once again that the view of what I saw as ideal would be crushed. I believed that the more I poured myself into this vision, using my time in my singleness, I would forever be trapped in my singlehood. I did not want to be used to this extreme because I thought God would never allow me time for marriage or a family. My fear of loneliness and rejection from friends and family for not following a typical life progression kept me from pursuing this ministry with full force. Once again, I made my life entirely about what I felt I needed rather than how God chose to use me to tell His story. Which is greater – seeking after our own entitled desires and continually falling short or engaging the struggle of following the vision God calls us to for the good of His kingdom?
Currently, I am beginning to actually use the gifts that God has given me, casting a vision for how others and myself can best serve and minister to college students in our body. In doing so, I find myself in a constant state of war against my own mind and heart, killing lies I believe at every turn. I do not know what to expect concerning the outcome in this pursuit or my general path in life, but I do know that God’s goodness is abundant, albeit often different from my own perceived notions of goodness, and He is the ultimate source of comfort in the midst of my anxiety.