Posts Tagged week of thankfulness
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?
As I take up my challenge to spend a week being thankful, I’ve reflected on the times when God has been faithful to provide in my life. It’s so easy to talk about trusting God to provide and to know that He has a great plan for my life, but it’s another thing to live like you believe that.
I remember first really worrying about my future when I was a senior in high school. It was around this time of year, actually. I only wanted to go to Taylor University in the fall for college, so I applied for early admission and didn’t apply anywhere else. My parents were okay with this, and so was I until I started getting nervous. I was supposed to find out in November if I got accepted or not and November was quickly coming to a close. I was pretty sure with my grades and ACT score that Taylor would accept me, but I kept asking myself, “What if…” I even started looking into possibly applying to Purdue as a backup school because their application was easy. I didn’t even want to go to Purdue and I knew nothing about their English program. I was trying to trust God about my future, but I wanted to be prepared just in case He didn’t come through.
That was the year I took up Jeremiah 29:11 as my “life verse.” Think what you want about life verses; I needed
something to cling to while I waited. Sure enough, the day before Thanksgiving, I got a letter–more like a packet. The kind where you know you got accepted because they’re sending you a big packet of stuff instead of a little rejection letter. That was one of the greatest Thanksgivings ever because I knew I had something to be thankful for–God provided my college acceptance to Taylor in His own timing and I never had anything to worry about. I went to Taylor and God worked out more of His plan for my life throughout that time up until now.
There were other times where I didn’t trust God’s plan while in college. Going into sophomore year I almost didn’t want to go back because one of my good friends who was supposed to room with me and another girl transferred in the summer. I was scared I’d be alone and not have any close friends at school. Basically, I worried. Then we got a freshman as our third roommate (I was in a triple and we were hoping it’d be a double with the other roomie gone). I wasn’t sure how that would work out either. I should’ve trusted more in God’s plan because the three of us–Alicia, me, and our new roommate Rachael, became great friends. Rachael was my roommate for three years and I love her. Those last three years of college were even better than the first and I knew I was in the place God wanted me to be.
There are a couple things I’ve learned from these past experiences:
1. God works on His own time, not mine. I continually have to remind myself of this. Whether it’s waiting to get a college acceptance letter, waiting for the day I’d have a boyfriend, waiting for those job interviews to pour in, or waiting for that engagement ring to come, I know that God will allow those things to happen on His timeline, not mine. If it were up to me, all those things would’ve happened sooner, but in making me wait and be patient, God has used that time to mature me and to draw me more to Him. As a senior in high school, I reminded myself that God’s timing is perfect–never early and never late. He knows what He’s doing.
2. God’s plans are way better than my plans. I’m a planner. I like to organize and plan events. I plan out my weeks and my days and I don’t like to get off schedule. It throws me off. I’m getting better at being flexible in this though. When I graduated from college, I didn’t have a job lined up. So I just moved back home and sort of looked for jobs while enjoying the break from school. My resume was up on job sites and I wasn’t being too proactive about applying, but somehow God had the communications manager at the Chicago Tribune call me and ask me if I’d be interested in a three-month freelance position. I interviewed later (though there’s more to this story) and ended up getting hired. After my three months, my boss kept adding another month, then another month, and finally he said I could stay until I found a full-time job. They even gave me a raise! Shortly after that, I got a call from Tyndale and ended up getting hired there soon after. Talk about God’s provision. I know having the Trib on my resume helped get me noticed, so when I look back, I can see how God provided all along.
So even now when I wonder what God’s doing with the timing of events in my life or what I’ll be doing in the next seven months, year, two years, or five years, I can think back on these moments when I’ve seen His faithful provision and perfect timing. Then I know I should “wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD” (Psalm 27:14 NIV)
How has God shown you that He is faithful?