Delayed Destiny

How many times have you asked a child “what do you want to be when you grow up?”. I wonder how many times I was asked that question growing up. Are you doing now what you dreamed of doing as a child or as a teenager? I began thinking about this recently and wondered just how many young people have God-sized dreams of being something when they grow up and how many of them ever have the chance to see that dream fulfilled. And I wondered just how many people like me, believe God placed a dream in their heart as a young person that is still yet to come to pass. I believed that dream would never be fulfilled but then through a series of life events I found myself walking in, albeit delayed, the destiny that God placed in my heart 32 years ago.

I was in 7th grade and I distinctly remember our new English teacher handing me back an assignment. She looked me in the eye and said “you’re going to be a writer some day”. I remember exactly how I felt in that moment as an insecure and self-concious 13 year old. I believed her. I wanted so badly to be a writer and in that moment I believed I could be. In the spring of that same year the 7th and 8th grade classes spent a week at a nearby natural, lakeside retreat where we held our classes outdoors and enjoyed the many activities that were available all while spending the week in rustic cabins. The girls were in one cabin and the boys in another. That very same teacher who had told me in the fall that I would be a writer some day boldly shared the gospel of Jesus Christ with some of the girls one night in our cabin. I was one of those girls and that night I asked Jesus to be my Lord and Savior. But the teacher who had such an impact on my life that year did not return the following year to teach at my school. After just one year she left and I quickly forgot about her. I began to make wrong choices and I headed down a path that would lead me away from the commitment I had made to follow Jesus. In my 8th grade year while at the same retreat, I made a decision that was in total opposition to the one I had made when I had asked Jesus into my heart just one year earlier. And it was a wrong choice that would mark a turning point in my faith. Following my 8th grade year, I spent the next 15 years running and hiding from the God I had professed to believe in.

Over the years there were glimpses of the dream of writing. I majored in English in college with the idea in the back of my mind that it would some day lead me into that dream. But my lack of commitment once again brought about missed opportunity and I dropped out of college to join the US Navy. Several years later I once again approached the dream and submitted a writing to a magazine on a whim. I thought that would be my chance to keep the dream alive but the rejection of my story made me once again give up and lose any bit of hope I had left. But God, who is ever faithful had never given up hope that I would some day turn away from my sins and turn back to Him. And when I reached that point when I knew I couldn’t take it any more and I had no where else to turn, I cried out to God for help. And He answered. I recommited my life to Jesus and made the choice that I would offer my heart completely to God and follow Him for the rest of my life.

Since that time 15 more years have passed. I gave birth to another son, worked in corporate America for many years, was a homemaker for a time period and have worked at my church. But 8 months ago God awakened that dream again to be a writer. The dream I thought was long over was starting to stir in me again and over the next few months things began to happen and doors began to open for me to be able to see that the dream was not dead, it was simply delayed. I began to write. And shortly after I did I began to think of that teacher who had told me she believed in my abilities as a writer and more importantly had shared the gospel with me. I felt like God was nudging me to look her up, contact her and tell her thank you. I went to my basement and started going through my yearbooks to see if I could find her because I couldn’t remember her name. When I opened up my 7th grade yearbook to the faculty page I found something I’d never seen before. The teacher I was looking for had signed my yearbook and she wrote “I really believe in you and think you have a genuine ability as a writer. Don’t cheat yourself of that talent.” I couldn’t believe what I was seeing! Almost 32 years after God had placed the dream to be a writer in my heart, I was finally walking in the destiny. I sat in my basement and cried at the goodness of God. I thanked Him that He never quit pursuing me and that He was showing me in that moment that no matter how many bad decisions I made, that it’s never too late to walk in your destiny. I created a website and continued writing but I was still reluctant to make it public. I made excuses and reasoned why it wasn’t time yet to do so. The truth was I was afraid of what people would think and I still dealt with the same old insecurities. But on New Years Day I heard God say “no more excuses” so that day I posted it on social media sites. The response was immediate. I received so much positive encouragement from my friends. I wondered why I had not done it sooner. But I knew the reason. We have a very real enemy who will do whatever it takes to keep us from walking in the destiny God has called us to. And if he can’t stop us, he’ll stall us for as long as he can in order to delay our destiny.

You may look back and see exactly where you made a wrong turn or where the enemy tried to derail you. But it’s not too late. And you don’t know who may have been praying for you for years to know God and to walk in your destiny. I found out when my son was 16 that the lady who babysat him when he was just a newborn baby used to pray for him regularly. Her daughter was going through some of her things after she passed away and found a picture of him when he was only 3 months old with a bible and her hand on his chest as she prayed over him. It’s God’s plan for you to walk fully into the destiny He has for you. He places people in your life to pray over you and to encourage you. Don’t ever believe that the promise of a dream that God placed in your heart, whether it was last week, last month or 32 years ago, is dead. It may only be delayed. So, get back on track and back to believing in the destiny on your life. Cry out to God to awaken the dream and to reveal the obstacles within you that are preventing you from reaching that dream. Don’t let the enemy lie to you and tell you the dream is dead. If God placed it there, it’s very much alive. And in His perfect timing you will see how God’s hand was upon your destiny all along and what seemed dead was only delayed.

Who’s the Boss?

One of my favorite TV shows in the 1980’s was the sitcom “Who’s the Boss”. As the title eludes, the show was about the clear role reversal of the two lead characters, where a woman was the breadwinner and a man (who was her live-in housekeeper) stayed at home and took care of the domestic duties. As their friendship and trust in each other grew and the lines became crossed, there was an underlying tension between the two of them of who was really in control of the decision-making in the home.

We live in a world that constantly attempts to remind us through all forms of media that we are in control of our lives. That we are the ones with the power to direct our path in life. Actress Drew Barrymore once said “I don’t want to sit around and hope good things happen. I want to make them happen.” She clearly believes she is the one who ultimately determines the outcome of her life. We all have seen or experienced marriages in which husbands and wives fight for control of each other. Or parents who try both successfully and unsuccessfully to control their children. In the workplace and in the school classrooms it’s sometimes hard to tell who’s in control. And while it’s true that we are, for the most part, in control of the choices we make, it is in those choices that we are ultimately giving up control. We falsely believe that because we are free to make our own choices then that means we are in control of our lives. There are much bigger forces at play and much more at stake than we realize.

I am a self confessed control freak. I get it when people tell me it’s hard to give up control and to trust in someone else to guide their decisions. I was one of those people who held on to control of all areas of my life (my marriage, my work, my money) even as I was watching them all slowly spiral out of control. People who were far wiser than I ever will be told me to surrender control of my life to God. To trust in Him to “fix” all the areas of my life I was incapable of fixing myself, as long as I was relying on my own strength and abilities. I held on tight-fisted to control until I almost lost it all. I believed that I knew what was best for my life and thought “how in the world can I just release all this to God? It’s too hard!” Even though I believed that I was the one in control and that the choices were either “I’m the boss” or “God’s the boss”, the truth was that I was never in control. Either I was going to surrender and allow God to be in control or I was going to continue to give into my own desires and allow the enemy of God to be in control. We are extremely deceived if we believe we are ever truly in control.

It isn’t easy and I use the present tense because it is a daily surrender to the desires of my heart and of my flesh. But thankfully I don’t have to rely any longer on my own strength or on my own abilities to do so. And I now know that God’s ways are always better than my own. I made the choice about 15 years ago to surrender my life to Jesus Christ, to relinquish the burden of control to Him. And since that time I have learned that what our world would perceive as weakness was the single-most freeing thing I’ve ever done. I believed the lie that freedom was found in being in control of my own life and on not relying on anyone but myself to make the decisions that affected my destiny. But the truth was that I was enslaved to my need to be in control. (Gal. 5:1) Now, I no longer have to carry the burden of trying to fix everything, do everything, be everything or know everything. I have the joy of experiencing freedom from being in control – yes freedom from not freedom in being in control. It is bondage to hang on to the belief that you are in control of your life. (1Kings 18:21). Remember, either you have surrendered to God and He’s in control or you’ve surrendered to your own desires and the enemy is in control. So, who’s your boss?

20 Seconds of Insane Courage

Over the Christmas holiday my family and I went to see “We Bought a Zoo”. This was a great movie for our family and we really enjoyed it. But there was one line in the movie that I could not stop thinking about. The father, played by Matt Damon, was talking to his son and told him “All you need is 20 seconds of insane courage and I promise you something great will come of it.” His family had been looking for a home and had found the perfect one. The only problem was that the house came with a zoo and he knew nothing about running a zoo. But in a moment of insane courage he decided that he and his family would purchase the house with the zoo and would figure it out as they went along.

I thought about how there are lots of things you can do in 20 seconds that takes insane courage. And many of them will reap huge benefits if you are willing to do something you never thought you would be able to do.

I thought about how I was not really that type of person. I’ve never done anything that really took insane courage. I’ve done plenty of things that required insane stupidity on my part but nothing that I could think of that would qualify as courageous.

Then God so lovingly revealed something to me. I had done something. Many years ago an amazing teacher of mine shared her faith and what God had done in her life. She shared that she had accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior. She said that He chose to die on the cross for all of our sins so that we could be forgiven and could spend eternity in Heaven. She said that if we wanted to accept His forgiveness and to spend eternity with Him all we had to do was believe in our hearts that what she was sharing was true then raise our hands and pray a prayer asking for that forgiveness.

I was a 7th grader at the time and what my peers thought of me was crucial to my existance. I was insecure and didn’t want to be made fun of. I was terrified. But there was something in me that desperately wanted to experience the love and acceptance she spoke of. I wanted to be forgiven of all the wrong things I had done and choices I had made. I wanted to have the assurance that I would spend eternity in heaven with the One who loved me completely. I was so afraid of the consequences but in those 20 seconds of insane courage that it would take me to raise my hand I knew something great would come of it so I did it. I raised my hand and boldly chose to say “I believe”.

My life has not been perfect since that 20 seconds of insane courage. I’ve certainly had my share of ups and downs. But what happened in that moment to a scared middle-schooler forever changed my life. There has never been a moment of regret in that choice. It took courage. It took making the choice that I didn’t care what other people thought – I wanted everything that teacher told me the bible promised. I wanted to experience that kind of love and peace and joy. I wanted to change and not be the person I had become anymore. And 32 years later I still want Jesus more than anything else. It’s a choice every day that I make to follow Him and not follow my own selfish ways. But there is nothing this world can offer that will ever compare to the love of Jesus.

If you’re like I was as a scared 7th grader and you’ve heard the gospel that promises forgiveness, eternal salvation and a new life in Christ but you’re afraid of the consequences to responding, know that there is no other 20 seconds of courage decision you can make that will impact your life more than choosing to follow Jesus and make Him the Lord and Savior of your life. And the best part about it is you don’t have to step out in that decision alone. He will be right there beside you every step of the way. (Joshua 1:9). You’ve got nothing to lose and I promise you, something great will come of it.