During my past semester in Europe most days bounced from one plan to the next. I was mesmerized by the constant influx of “new” which accompanied every moment. New cities, new cafes, and new experiences were around every corner. I came to know the Lord more closely in Europe because I was content there. You could say it was part of my plan.
As I write this I am in Saint Louis, seated at the desk I used all through high school. From the window I can see my Mom sweeping the sidewalk, hear birds chirping from the pine trees which enclose my yard, and see lightning bugs begin to flicker as the sun sets.
However, if things were going according to my plan, I would be packing my bags right now and heading back to Nashville first thing in the morning. My plan was to get back there as soon as possible after returning from Europe, but my stay in Saint Louis has been prolonged to be with family as my Dad undergoes surgery. My mind is currently in countless places but definitely not focused on this moment.
I’ve learned that the Lord usually takes what I expect to happen and redirects it somewhere more uncomfortable or unexpected. I was so quick to jump from one city to the next that I overlooked the people right in front of me who needed to be loved.
It’s easy to seek out the Lord when you’re where you want to be. But when he plucks you from your plans and leads you to find a new focus, seeking Him even more persistently and intentionally becomes an option which will require much more willpower. It’s easier to wallow in changed plans but insurmountably more worthwhile to rejoice in them. Face your reality straight on and choose joy— joy in the fact that our God loves us enough to direct our steps.
Over the past few months I’ve been praying and focusing on a verse from Psalm 51 which says,
“Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.”
[Psalm 51:12, NIV]
Looking at the events in front of me since meditating on this verse, I’ve noticed how the Lord works through trial by fire. John writes, “I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask” (John 11:22). Ask, and you shall receive, but not how you might expect. Asking God to intervene where you can’t comes with no guarantee of ease.
Asking for courage? Expect situations in which you’ll have to fight the reflex of backing down. You’ll have to choose bravery.
Strength? Situations where you’ll find it more comfortable to choose weakness.
Love? People which you find hard to love.
Living a life truly alive by the Spirit means experiencing times in which you cannot seem to find the necessary qualities within yourself. You have to look outside of what can be accomplished alone. It is in the difficult situations where God meets you and the Spirit works. We have to work through those tough situations in order to see meaningful outcomes.
But there’s good news! All you need is a willing spirit. Be willing to allow the Spirit to work through you and life will progress from there.
Be willing to venture where you might be uncomfortable. Be willing to love where you might not be ready to yet. Be willing to admit you are afraid. Be willing to accept that what you thought was best might be wrong, and then accept whatever comes your way. Continue to face each day with a willing spirit knowing Jesus loves us astoundingly. He stitches our lives together so intricately and with such an overwhelming amount of love that no matter how your path may seem to change, you are always heading in the right direction.
I didn’t anticipate waking up this morning to go to church and get donuts with my Dad. But it’s the unexpected moments like these that remind me how immensely and personally God loves us. Take time today and relish in the fact that the Lord has a purpose in where you are right now. Whether that be where you expected or somewhere totally different, it is a cause for joy. All you need is a willing spirit to live as if it’s true.
Songs for the moment:
Just Enough / Andrew Ripp
Even When It Hurts (Praise Song) / Hillsong United
In The Meantime / Sleeping At Last
Life Keeps Moving On / Ben Rector
- Molly // @molly.grunik