April 17, 2010

My Path

Finding your path, the path the Lord has in mind for you, is a difficult task. Most of us don't really think a whole lot about our path. We tend to accept the path we are on as "it" and just walk one step at a time. Often, this is exactly where we are meant to me. Some of us stumble onto the path the Lord has for us. Some of us make deliberate choices to get onto the path (for example, studying a particular thing in college, moving to a certain place for a job or ministry). Some of us wander around aimlessly for a really long time, often by passing and missing the path, through negligence or ignorance (simply not knowing or seeing it). Some of us willing deny the path, choosing instead to go our own way. I guess I am in the latter category. I guess I am one of those people who understood the path, saw it clearly, but chose to go their own way. At the least, that is how it appears to me when I look back over my life.

I have spent a lot of time blogging and reflecting on my life. I guess it is good to do that every so often, to reflect back, to think over decisions made and left unmade. I think it does us good to evaluate our life, to see how faithful we have been with the gifts and blessings God has given to us. In my case, I would give myself a big fat "F" in the faith category. I have not been faithful to use the gifts and talents the Lord gave to me. I have used them, don't get me wrong, but not for His Glory, and certainly not for eternity (I have harvested wood, hay, and a whole lot of stubble).

Since 2006, though, I have made great strides to turn that "F" into an "A." I have placed my trust and faith in the Lord, in a new way, in a deeper and more intimate way. I have made good progress. I have learned so much about Him, come to have more respect, and ultimately understood how things work with Him. God has specific ways of dealing with His children. He chooses methods and means that work BEST for us as individuals, which simply means, that He deals with us on a case-by-case basis. What is best for one, is not necessarily best for another. God uses what works for me. He uses what works best for you. He is individually-focused on our needs, and on shaping us (from where we are when we come to Him) and making us into a person of His own choosing. You see, God has a unique and individualized plan for each one of us.
I consider it to be an "IEP" or an Individualized Education Program. God creates and IEP for each one of us. He charts out where we are to go, how we are to get there, and then creates goals and assessments for us to meet. In doing so, we are placed on a path of His own choosing. As we work through these goals, make our achievements and such, we continue to move on towards His Ultimate graduation for us -- our PROMOTION INTO GLORY. Our IEP is taking us from where we are (sinful flesh) into the conforming nature of Jesus Christ. Our path, therefore, is uniquely designed for our specific condition and also adjusted to suit His needs.

The Word says that in Ephesians 4:11:

"It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers,..."

The Lord has called us to fill various aspects of His Ministry. He has equipped us with special giftings to enable us to do His Work in the church and in the world. Some are called in a certain way, some in another way. We all work together to build His church and to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ.

It is up to us to figure out our calling, to understand our place within the church. Once we can identify our calling, we are then more able to see the IEP that the Lord has created for us. We can know our path, know for certain we are on it, and we can see the progress we are making -- steadily, daily, growing and becoming more and more like Him.

Many Christian's do not bother to even check their identity. Many are content to simply be the person they are, and they never consider that the Lord may have specific work for them to do. Some fall into it by chance (or out of duty), and some simply ignore the pull of the Spirit completely. It is a shame when a believer refuses to acknowledge the gifting of the Spirit, and will not allow Him to use them to fill a specific needs in His Kingdom.

I am on my path. I know it. I know my calling and my gifting. My issue is more about staying on the IEP, adhering to it; then figuring it out. I already know what I am to do (not the how), and I already have accepted it. I just need to stick to the plan. I need to stop looking elsewhere, checking out other people's plans, and accept that this is the plan the Lord has created just for me.

Sigh! It is "keeping up with the Joneses" in one sense. I look around me and see what others are doing, how well they are making it, and then look at my own life, and think I am doing something wrong. I look at my own struggles and think I must be on the wrong path. The problem with doing this is simply not understanding that I can only be on one IEP -- God's. I cannot be on any other plan or program UNLESS I AM CHOOSING TO WILLFULLY DISOBEY HIM. I am not, therefore, I must conform to the IEP He has made for me.

Yikes, saying it that way causes me some shame. I have looked at my own IEP with some disdain, considered it as not being good enough (in comparison to others). Oops! Mistake Numero Uno -- no, no, no. Trust me, dear friend, do not do this ever. God's plan is perfect. It is the best. There is no other plan that is better. His IEP for you is perfectly suited to you. Do not look at other people and wonder if their way would be better. It would not.

Dear Lord,

I understand that the IEP you have made for me is perfect. It is YOUR BEST for my best. I accept your IEP, and I accept where I am on it. I cannot jump ahead of your goals, and I cannot settle back into areas where we have already moved past. I am where I am today because it is your will for it to be so. I accept where I am just as I accept where I am going. May you receive all Glory as I walk through this IEP with your Spirit leading me. My heart and mind and soul are surrendered to you now. Move me, change me, make me, grow me into the person you desire me to be. Take me where the path for me leads -- I will follow you. In Jesus Name, Amen.

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