Saturday, May 26, 2018

I Don't Know. And That's Okay.

Author’s Note: So the blog below popped up on my Facebook feed from six years ago. I wrote it back in 2012. The 21-year-old version of me was going through a lot of the exact same circumstances I’m going through right now. He had just moved to a new city far from home for a new job, feeling in over his head. Like Mark Twain once said: “History does not repeat itself, but it often rhymes.”

He also desperately needed a copy editor, though, but don’t we all? I brushed things up a little. I’m sure he wouldn’t mind.

I think if we ended up in the same room and had a conversation without unraveling the fabric of the space-time continuum, we’d both laugh at how we pretty much ended up in an identical situation six years apart. I’d also thank him for being brave enough to take the leap and moving halfway across the country. That was big for us. I wouldn’t be as comfortable doing what I’m doing now if it wasn’t for that experience. I think he would be proud of all the progress we’ve made over the past six years. I think he would be surprised that we’ve ran three half marathons, traveled to Alaska and interviewed Martha Stewart for two minutes in the six-year gap between us! We’d be sad over some of the dreams that didn’t quite work out as well as we’d hoped, but he’d be happy to see how much more he is willing to take risks and put himself out there. He took that first, big one, though.

I think 21-year-old Joel would encourage the current me to be a little bolder, though. To get back to the heart of things. To chase after God a little more fervently and cling to Him a little more desperately, the way he did when he first moved to San Antonio. He’d say that some of the missteps, disappointments and struggles that have occured during the six years between us is over now. Let them go. Leave it behind. Charge ahead. Let’s make the next six years the best years we possibly can. I’d tell him that that sounds like a good plan.

Sorry, that was kind of a long author’s note. Hope this post speaks to you the way it did to me just now.

"This is what the Lord says: 'When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. 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. 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. I will be found by you,' declares the Lord,  'and will bring you back from captivity...'"
- Jeremiah 29:10-14

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Chances are you've heard Jeremiah 29:11, the part that I did not embolden in the scripture above. It's one of the most encouraging and popular verses in the Bible; a reminder that God is in total control, that He is good, and that He has a good plan for our lives — even when we don't always see it.

But I was brought to this passage a few days ago and I began reading around the verse. I love verse 11, but what about verse 10? When the Israelites were exiled and put into captivity, I imagine there wasn't much hope in their camp. The Lord told them that when seventy years were completed in Babylon, then He will come and fulfill his good promise.

Seventy years? I don't know about you, but that's a long time to wait. We love that God has a plan and future for our lives, but are we willing to wait on him for it? Am I? Or do we want God to fulfill His promises and plans as long as they fit into our own plans and desires?

I like to plan ahead, or at least try to. All that seems to succeed in doing, however, is overwhelm me. Now don't get me wrong: having long-term goals is great. I have my own goals that give me a sense of direction for my life. But make sure that you don't take God out of that plan-making process. And sometimes, many times, the best course of action is to surrender the future to Him instead of trying to get into the little details of everything. Embrace the vision God has placed in your life and just let Him take care of the details.

How long have we planned ahead for? A year? Three years? Five? Ten? We can make all the plans and charts and projections we want... but if God has another plan, are you willing to throw your own away? It's a choice we all have to make. We all have to answer the question God always seems to be asking of us: "Do you trust Me?"

And then there's the couple verses after verse 11. There's a lot of action taking place in those couple sentences. Call. Come. Seek. Find. Listen. Pray. Our faith cannot afford to be inactive and passive. In order for us to realize God's plans for our lives, we have to move. We have to take action and take that critical step of faith. That's often the hardest thing to do. I don't want to be the person who doesn't take those steps. Sometimes it's easy to just sit back and take the easy route instead of making the kinds of sacrifices God is asking us to make... Our faith needs to be fueled by action.

What it all boils down to is this: I don't know where God is going to have me in five years. Or 10 years. I really don't. But I do know that God is going to be with me through it all. And that's all I really need to know.

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SCRIPTURE REFERENCES: Proverbs 19:21, Psalm 20:4, Proverbs 16:3

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