I was talking to a friend of mine this morning about the struggles of life and more particularly the finding of a job. Every job seems to want people who have experience, but who gives the ones who do not have experience the chance? He told me the same thing that I think most of us struggle with: “I do not know if I want a job or not. I want more than anything to make a difference in the world.”
Man, have I struggled with that one! This is how I responded to him: “I think it has much to do with how we are ready. God has waited to bring some things into my life because in my heart I was not ready; I was not mature enough in my faith. I thought I was ready, but because readiness is more than what happens in our brains and more of what happens in our hearts (which is something that only God and the Holy Spirit can prepare), we cannot control when we are ready. All we can control is how open we are to the Holy Spirit.”
That is a huge lesson that I have learned this past year: that I cannot control when I am ready. I think sometimes we have a tendency to compare our hearts to the American process of success: if I get this degree then I can get this job which will lead me to this promotion and this amount of income. However, our hearts do not work that way, and we don’t become ready for certain things based on the amount of effort we put into it. I don’t understand why this is, but God prepares our hearts in His own time. Some people search for years before understanding the love of God while some grasp it nearly instantly. This is a great mystery.
Sometimes we think this way in our relationship with God, and we communicate this from the pulpit: this idea that if we spend an hour in devotions every morning, then we will become a “good Christian”. However, faith and matters of the heart cannot be placed in a mathematical equation. A strong and mature faith is only brought about through the journey.
We are not left out of this process, however. God will not take over our lives if we are not willing to let Him. This is the essence of free will. Even though there is prevenient grace where God is preparing our hearts to hear His truth, we must still accept this truth and open the door for Him to change us. When we continually give the Holy Spirit space in our lives, He can do marvelous things in our hearts. The timing is His, however, and for reasons that I do not expect to ever know, our readiness depends on His timing as well.
There have been many times I thought that I was ready for certain things. I’ve thought I was ready for marriage. I’ve thought I was ready for a certain job. However, those doors did not open when I thought they should have, even when I brought my whining case before God. For years I prayed, asking God to develop in me a passion for the things He cares about. It was not until this past month when God said, “Alright, here is the next step.”
What is completely ironic about this step of moving to Nashville is this: I did not think I was ready. Come to think about it, every single thing in my life that was God-led, I had the distinct feeling that I was not ready for it. However, through the process of obedience to His voice and doing what He asked of me, I became ready as only He could do. Looking back, I see clearly how I had everything I needed to accomplish His will in my life, though it was not always apparent at the time. I have come to use this measure in identifying the will of God: Do I sense His leading? Do I feel prepared? If the answer is Yes and No, then we’re good to go! (And amazingly, that rhymed.)
It is interesting to me that the things I thought I was ready for (marriage or a certain job) have not yet come to pass, though I have done many things I would never have dreamed of doing like living and working in other countries and getting a bachelors degree in a foreign language. Even though I always wanted to, I never in my wildest dreams thought I would be living in Nashville or getting a Masters Degree. All of these things were huge steps of faith for me, because I fully believed before and while doing them that I could not accomplish the task. Maybe this is all a lesson of faith, but I wonder if when I think I am ready for something, that confidence is what disqualifies me from being ready. When I believe that I can do it, what are my blind spots? What then becomes of my testimony?
My greatest prayer is that my life would be an example of what God can do with someone that is fully committed to Him. God does not just work in parts of our lives; He works in and through the entirety of our lives. I know that before He took hold of me, I was a mess. Now, my life is one more example of God’s incredible redemption story; an example of how He can bring beauty from ashes. I long to see miracles, but looking back I see the greatest miracle of all is my own life, and He is only beginning. The further I walk on this journey with Him, I realize that there is no separation between things that I am ready for and things that I am not ready for. There is only obedience to His voice, passion for His Kingdom, and love for those He loves. In light of that, I may end up doing some pretty crazy things. However, through each experience my trust in His provision grows stronger and stronger until someday, I pray, the worry of what will come will never cross my mind. The “what ifs” will never be an issue; the “whys” never viable questions. All that remains will be HIM.
We will never understand the great mysteries of the heart. However, there is one thing that we can be sure of: when we wait upon Him whose timing is perfect, we will never be disappointed with the result.