Yesterday we had a very meaningful service in place of our regular worship service at church. It was a time of worship and sharing from the congregation, giving and directing all praise and thanks to God. I loved how God-centered all the thanksgiving was–the way it should be. The mics were pointed away from the congregation, looking at the cross. Here’s some of what I shared yesterday (the expanded version), inspired by this Boundless post I read last week from Lisa Anderson.
God, I thank you for the things you have not given me.
Thank you for not allowing me to work at the US Center for World Mission in Pasadena, CA after graduation at my parents’ request. They offered me a job, but if I had moved there, I wouldn’t have met and started dating Gerald and I wouldn’t have worked at the Chicago Tribune, getting me into the public relations industry and giving me future job opportunities. I’m thankful that I did not get the internship at Edelman (a big PR firm), but instead got a job at Tyndale House Publishers, allowing me to work with wonderful people and to help spread the Gospel around the world through the written word.
Thank you for not allowing the housing situation with Heidi and me to work out earlier this year. We were going to sign a lease on an apartment together for a year, but through a series of events, God led us to give up the apartment. Instead, God took Heidi elsewhere, and I ended up getting a different apartment for myself in a better location than the one we were originally going to take. What seemed negative at first ended up being a blessing.
Thank you for making me wait on things that I wanted even when I didn’t want to wait. I was reading some old prayer journal entries over the weekend. I read one from this time of year six years ago. I was a sophomore in college and apparently at that time I was very obsessed about a guy I liked then. Most of my entries at that time weren’t really directed at God, but were me analyzing this guy’s behavior toward me. He seemed like he was interested, but then it didn’t really work out. I know it was a confusing time for me emotionally and I wrote about wondering if I’d ever date anyone or if I’d ever get married someday. It’s kind of funny when I look back on it now and see how much God needed to mature me and grow me in order to prepare me for a relationship. Even in my first and only relationship with Gerald, he has been showing me how selfish I can be and areas where I’ve needed to change to become more Christ-like. I’ve seen how unlovable I can be at times. Yet God still loves me–and he brought me a man that loves me despite all that too. I’ve always desired different things in relationships–first to have a guy who was interested, then to start dating, then to get engaged and married. I’m still waiting on those last two, but I know they’re not too far off. God didn’t give me those things when I wanted them. He made me wait because He knew I wasn’t quite ready and that’s not what He wanted for me just yet.
I can also thank God for not allowing me to win or place highly in my horse shows
in college. It was humbling to say the least. I came in to school thinking I’d be a great addition to the equestrian team because I’d been riding for a while. The competition turned out to be tougher than I’d thought. God humbled me by placing me in a division where I couldn’t compete over fences for the first two years of college. But it also allowed me to improve my riding on the flat and to be more humble about my experience and abilities.
These are just a few of the things I’m grateful God did not give me. At the time, I wasn’t too happy about these things, but I see how God used those times of waiting, of humility, of what I thought were “missed opportunities,” to mold me and shape me. I’ve been blessed with much that God has given me, yes, but I’m also blessed by the things He has chosen to withhold from me when He clearly had something better in mind.
What are some things God did not give you? Have you given Him thanks for those circumstances too?