Sunday, July 21, 2013

Back to the Beginning . . .

"But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus Christ, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God."     --Acts 20:24

A couple of weeks ago, I quit my job because of health concerns.  Soon, I will be moving to Minnesota to live with my parents.  At many moments, it feels like I'm losing a lot.  The job I planned to retire from, my beautiful house, half of my stuff (garage sale time!), my car, relationships, independence, lack of below-zero-temperatures in Georgia . . .  At times, it's really hard.

By the world's standards, it feels like I'm moving backwards.  Less stuff.  Less independence.  Less comfort.  Less health.  But this morning I was praying through a reading a friend shared with me last night.  The first prayer that it mentions is, "Whatever it takes, Lord, give me delight in you as my greatest treasure." Whatever it takes.  The last time I prayed a prayer that began with that phrase, I got very sick and ended up in the hospital for 10 days.  The time before that, a tornado almost killed me and destroyed just about everything I owned.  When I was in the hospital, I spoke with the chaplain about my reticence to pray bold prayers anymore.  It seemed like the more I openly and joyfully asked God to take control, the more bad stuff happened to me.

But then I remembered the verse that I clung to so strongly when I decided to go overseas after I finished my PhD: Acts 20:24.  At the time, I was convinced that dying to myself meant going to live overseas, but now I realize that sometimes God doesn't ask us to die to ourselves in the way that seems wonderful and exciting to us.  We don't get to say, "Hey!  If I have to die to myself, can I do it this way, please?"  Sometimes he asks us to quit our jobs, get rid of our stuff, and move in with our parents.  It seems backwards to us.   But it's moving forward in God's eyes.

As I prayed through several verses, I started to realize that God was putting me in exactly the right position to joyfully sacrifice my desires to him and ask to be his instrument.  I no longer have a concept of what my future will look like, and I no longer have a bunch of stuff I desperately am trying to hold onto.  In this position, God can shape me and direct me in ways that I would have been resistant to when I had a job I loved and a house I loved and a car I loved and a steady income I loved.

I've cried a lot about the move the past 2 weeks, but right now, I'm so excited.  God has an awesome plan for me--he's promised--and this is a step I get to take to figure out what that plan will be.