Man, I love it when I make breakthroughs in understanding. They seem so fleeting, so difficult and far in between for me. I spend the majority of my time living within a conundrum (a difficult or confusing problem or question), and often I linger on and on without any hope of finding the answer or conclusion. Then it is as if all of a sudden the clouds disappear and the sky clears. I get it or at the least, I think I understand whatever has been confusing me. This is the way it was for me today, and I am rejoicing in my new found understanding of the Lord's will for my life.
You see, I take everything literally. I am what is called a realist, a pragmatist, a logistician and a literal/rational thinker. Everything functions on a linear line or it is connected via strings that hold various elements together. Everything has to fit for me to understand it. I have to see the completed puzzle before I can see what the picture is that I am making. Some people can figure things out with just pieces of the puzzle. I used to think I was this way, but over time, I have come to realize that I am clueless and without enough of the puzzle filled in, well -- I just don't get it, I don't see it, and I cannot understand whatever I need to understand.
The Lord's will for the most part is like a puzzle missing key pieces. The overall picture is already put together for us. Jesus told us that we are to be conformed to His image:
For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. Romans 8:29 NLT
Therefore, God's will for all His children is to become like His Son Jesus.
He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control. Phillipians 3:21 NLT
God desires that we become like Jesus, to be conformed (or behave like Him) to His ways. This is our expressed purpose and why God created us. But within that framework, God also has specific plans for each of His children, and these plans intersect to bring His will to pass in the Universe. This means that the Kingdom work (the harvest) is a job that each one of us will participate in. We all have a specific job to do, and the Holy Spirit gives gifts to enable us to do that work.
God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. 1 Peter 4:10 NLT
I have discovered my purpose, my specific ministry gift as well as the job the Lord has for me to do. I have known for a long while (several years now), and I am in the process of accomplishing His will in regard to that work. However, I have been so confused about what to do in the mean time. I mean, what kind of work should I do now or until the Lord is ready for me to do this specific work? He has told me that I can do any kind of work, live any place, just so long as I work towards accomplishing certain prerequisites (training really) for ministry. I have struggled because of the open-endedness of that answer. Really, Lord? Is there not just ONE way for me to go?
You see, I am linear and therefore the concept of many paths doesn't sit well with me. I want there to be ONE WAY ("Jesus told him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me." John 14:6 NLT) just like the Word says of our LORD. The funny thing is that I already have the ONE WAY, I mean, I am on the ONE PATH -- the PATH that leads straight through Jesus Christ and on to the Father. I am in, I know the way, so to speak. In my limited mindset, though, I want there to be ONE of everything, not multiple paths. This is way too confusing to me, and I am afraid I will get lost with so many choices. Yet, the Lord says that there are many paths, all within the scope and framework of His blessed over-arching will, and they are all GOOD. Why can I not understand that this is how God chooses to work within our time and place? It makes sense when you really think about it, yet my brain refuses to accept it as truth.
What this means to me is this (and hence my breakthrough in understanding):
Whether I work in Phoenix or another state -- so long as the work will conform me to His Image and enable me to train and prepare for His work -- the job itself is of no consequence to the Lord. It is GOOD work, purposeful and useful for what it provides (income, food, shelter, necessities, etc.) I get all hung up on mission and on calling and on having a career, when in reality the Lord is simply saying to me "this is a GOOD path for you, Carol." I want it to be the only path, not just a GOOD one. The Lord says it is Good, therefore, that means that it is GOOD (the best, His choice, a perfect path to follow). Does that guarantee no suffering? Of course not, because suffering brings Him glory. It simply means that the path will suit His purpose well, and that it is OK for me to follow it.
Some paths lead to nothing of advantage, and some will lead us away from the Lord's specific purpose for our lives. We are not to waste our time nor follow these kinds of paths. Our dependency on the Holy Spirit for His guidance will help us determine GOOD paths to follow. My mind finally gets the fact that there are many GOOD paths to follow. I simply need to ask permission to follow one, and then allow the Lord to faciliate it for me.
I wish I weren't so stubborn all the time. I wish I were more flexible, and agreeable to the Lord's will. I struggle with letting go, with accepting and going where the Lord directs me. How many times has He said, "Go down this path," and I was afraid to do it. I thought it had to be RIGHT (as in not wrong), and therefore I got worried about mistaking His direction. I should have just gone, and who knows where I would be today. Instead, I said "no," and here I sit still in Phoenix, living without full-time work, and struggling to make ends meet. I should have "gone," but I didn't and now I know why. I thought there were better choices, better options, and I never considered that the one I was staring at was pretty GOOD for me. I was willing to accept one path, but not go down it, and now I am willing to accept all paths (knowing that I will not go down any path doesn't accomplish His will for me).
I have opened my eyes to all possiblities under Heaven, and to accepting any job that comes to pass. I understand that everything is GOOD that comes from His hand, and that I need to receive these GOOD gifts when they are offered. I rejected a fair number of them, and now I just want one more. I ask the Lord, "Please?" and I know He is patiently waiting for me to grow up, to gain understanding, and to stop being so stubborn. I say, "Yes, Lord," but then I don't always do what I promise Him. I have promised to go to Texas. I have promised to go to Viriginia. I have promised to go to Illinois and Tennessee. Yet, here I am in Phoenix -- having not gone to any of these places. Why Lord? Why am I so stubborn? I know why -- I am flawed human flesh, and it is my nature (sin nature) to do whatever is contrary to the Lord's directive. It shouldn't be this way, especially AFTER THE CROSS, but that part of my personality and fleshly will is still there, and occassionally it wants its own way.
I lay my will aside in favor of your will. I will no longer consider a way without really meaning that I will consider it. If you say GO, then I will GO. If you provide a way here in Phoenix, then I will rejoice and stay put. I will no longer seek ONE way because I am already on the ONE PATH that leads directly to you. I am now willing to trust you to provide good work, good purposeful work to me. I will do what is asked of me, and I will work unto your Name and for your Glory. In Jesus' Name I pray this now, Amen (so be it, thy will be done.)