"It is impossible for a man to learn what he thinks he already knows." Epictetus
Another semester over. Another year in the books.
Don't worry. I'm not about to tell you everything I've done in the last twelve months.
I'm just gonna share with you something I've learned.
I am a fool.
Maybe you are too.
I know, I know, not the most encouraging thing you've ever heard.
BUT this is good news!
And now you think I'm crazy. I can live with that.
Here's where my thought originated:
I find myself becoming most confused and even frustrated when I try to understand God in relation to His will for my life.
Is it bad to think about the future?
Absolutely not! In fact, we should think about it and seek God's will.
How foolish I am, though, to think I can get ahead of God and know His intentions and plans. How foolish I am to think I've got it and that I'm wise for figuring it out.
I'm not always like this, but I've spent a great deal of the last several months thinking I knew where God was going to direct me and starting off that direction without His say-so only to end up at a closed door. I am ever grateful for His faithfulness, patience and forgiveness as I realize what I've done and come back to take His hand and walk His path at His pace.
"Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered."
The awesome thing about realizing that it's a bad idea to use your own cleverness and whatnot to figure things out is that you take a step closer to wisdom. We learn in James 1:5 that "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask of God, who gives to all generously and without criticizing and it will be given to him." God absolutely speaks to us. He guides and directs us through people in our lives, Scripture, and the still, quiet voice that touches us so radically we cannot help but move to action.
I'm not trying to say that we're all hopeless and stupid. I simply want to rip away the pride that makes us think we are wise in our own eyes. On our own, we fail to make the impact God could make through us if we surrender ourselves to Him and His will. (Not that God needs our permission. Obviously He can do whatever He wants because He's God.)
So where am I going with this?
I use the picture above to illustrate:
Fairly recently, someone told me to stop focusing on the big picture and the far-away future for a time. Instead, he said, ask God what your immediate next steps include. God and I talk a lot about the big picture of my life, so this proposition both startled and excited me. I did not want to lose sight of what I believe God has called me to, but I figured it was past time to stop worrying about the details.
I took his advice, and thus began a series of incredible conversations with my parents, peers, and mentors. Shifting my focus from what God has yet to reveal to what He has shown me in no way lessened my excitement for the future. In fact, God used it to bring me full-circle in how I envisioned myself. Past that, He used it to show me that He had already revealed to me my next several steps, and they include some awesome adventures!
What does this have to do with the picture?
The raindrops on the window represent my next steps. I haven't lost sight of what's past that. In fact, I have a vague idea of what that will look like. I can let the details go because I know who works them out. I must obey what I know for now while I wait for what I don't know to be revealed.
Honestly, I have a tendency to get a little impatient with God because there are things I want to know now. However, He proves Himself faithful over and over and shows that anything but His timing hurts the long-term plan. Once again, I'm reminded not to get ahead of my Master. Sometimes I wonder if God gets tired of teaching me this (because it's a recurring theme in my life). I'm thankful that He's gracious.
Proverbs tell us that "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom" (9:10). I head into this new year praying that I'll grow in fear of the Lord.
Now is a time to wait. Now is a time to obey. Now is a time to praise the Lord.