God truly works in mysterious ways.
As I’ve mentioned before, I love to write. In high school, I was editor of the school yearbook. When I wrote essays for scholarship applications, I always indicated that I wanted to be a writer. In college, I majored in journalism. I am one of those strange students who would write a paper over taking a test any day of the week.
But, I’ve never had the opportunity to use my writing the way I want to.
I started this blog as a way to express some of my feelings, to share what God is doing in my life. As I read scripture, I find myself writing devotional thoughts and posting them. It has been a fun thing for me to do, but my site has had very little traffic. But that didn’t matter. The people who do read it have given me great feedback. And, it has been therapeutic for me.
In the last month, I have sensed God pulling me deeper into my walk with Him. I have begun to realize how much I do in my own power instead of His. Up until this point, I have felt great confidence in who I am and in the gifts God has placed in me. The problem is that I rely on myself instead of Him. So, about a month ago, God convicted me of my tendency to be independent. I have offered myself completely to Him, asking Him to live my life through me, asking Him to pour out His power in every area of my life. I have told Him that my life is not my own; it is His to do with as He pleases.
Last Tuesday morning, I went for an early morning run. As usual, I put on my headphones and listened to a sermon as I enjoyed the unseasonably cool Oklahoma weather. The pastor was in a series on Joseph, and he was talking about dreams. As a teenager, Joseph had a dream. He went through many hardships—being sold into slavery, wrongfully accused of rape, thrown into prison, forgotten by those he helped—before his dream finally became a reality approximately 13 years later.
As I listened to the sermon, I thought of all my hopes and dreams I had as a teenager—including my dream of writing for God. I was encouraged by the sermon, but I really didn’t think too much about it. I simply thanked God that He knows the dreams in my heart, and I went about my normal day.
When I finished running, I began getting ready for work. At one point, I turned on my computer, and I decided to post one of the blogs I had ready. I quickly opened the folder of unpublished blogs, picked one, read over it to look for grammatical errors, and published it. Then, I went back to getting ready for work.
Less than 30 minutes after posting, I was on a business phone call when I received a Facebook message from a college friend. As I read the message, I became overwhelmed. I totally lost my train of thought on the business call, and I had to refocus. When I got off the phone, I picked up my personal phone to reread the message from my friend. You see, Shawn is now managing editor of Crosswalk.com, a Christian organization that publishes devotional material. He had read my post that morning and wanted to know if he could publish it on their website.
The tears welled up in my eyes as I simply kept repeating, “God is so good.” My daughter saw me overwhelmed with emotion and came to make sure I was OK. I eventually managed to explain the situation to her and my boys.
As you think about all of the circumstances that had to take place to reach this very moment in time, it is simply mind-boggling. You see, Shawn—who was from Arizona—had to make the decision years ago to attend a small, Baptist university in Oklahoma, just like I did. God had to place Shawn in just the right position (managing editor). God had to allow someone to create this silly tool called Facebook where we waste so much of our time. He had to allow Shawn and I to re-connect through this manner (we are friends on Facebook which allows us to follow what is happening in each other’s lives, but we don’t spend time chatting or posting to each other’s walls). Shawn had to be on Facebook at just the right time to see my post, and I had to post it at just the right time. Shawn had to be willing to open the link and read it (I often skip over links on Facebook and don’t bother reading). I am sure there are many more “coincidences” that I am missing, but you get the point. God had to be orchestrating the entire situation.
Shawn published my post “Picking up the Pieces” on Crosswalk.com last week. I try not to focus on the number of views my blog gets because I don’t want to get caught up in pleasing people rather than God. But, I have received a number of comments from broken, hurting people who have been touched by my words. Every day since it was published, I have found myself driving down the road, reflecting on some of these comments with tears pouring down my face. The tears are for those whose hearts are broken as mine has been. The tears are for the overwhelming joy I’ve felt for my Savior who has arranged circumstances for His glory. The tears are because I have been sensing (even before last week’s publication) that I am about to see God do amazing things in my life. The tears are because I find myself so humbled that God would choose to use a sinner such as myself to encourage others.
Just as it took many years for Joseph’s dreams to be fulfilled, it has taken many years for me to start writing and to have my dream of being published a reality. I don’t think it is a coincidence that I listened to a sermon on Joseph that very morning—and I certainly don’t think it is coincidence that all of this has taken place since I asked God to help me quit living in my power and asked Him to live my life through me. I don’t know what God will do from here, but I know that He has plans for me. I know that I did not go through a very public and painful time of trial just for myself. I told God from the very beginning that I would take this trial and walk through it, but He better make the end results worth it. I’ve always said that this pain would not be in vain—that it would be to help and encourage others. God knows my heart and all of my dreams, and I am learning day by day to trust Him to carry them to completion.
When God is silent, He is never still.
I recently heard this quote while listening to a sermon (you see, I run quite a bit and always use that time to focus on God). I was overwhelmed by it, realizing that even though I wasn’t seeing movement toward my dreams, I have no idea what God is doing in the background. Now, this quote rings even more loudly in my ears as I see how God was working to create the perfect connections at the perfect time. I hope one day I truly learn to trust Him fully!
I share this story for one reason—there are some of you out there who feel as if God has abandoned you, as if your dreams are dying a long, painful death. Please don’t give up! You have no idea what God has planned, what He is doing in the background to make your dreams become a reality.
In a wealthy home some utensils are made of gold and silver, and some are made of wood and clay. The expensive utensils are used for special occasions, and the cheap ones are for everyday use. If you keep yourself pure, you will be a special utensil for honorable use. Your life will be clean, and you will be ready for the Master to use you for every good work. 2 Timothy 2:20
Lord, I offer my life to you. I pray that I will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to you, prepared for every good work.
(And, just for the record, God has already made the pain I have experienced worthwhile. My life is so much sweeter and enjoyable than I ever dreamed possible. Even if God never gave me another opportunity to write for His glory, I would be forever thankful for the journey I have walked through. It has made me a much better, stronger, deeper, more compassionate person than I ever dreamed possible. God never allows our pain to be in vain!)