If you would have asked me back in 2010 (the year I came to know Christ) what I thought my life would look like in 2016, I would have had a very specific answer prepared for you. I would have told you that I would most likely be married to a pastor, would have either graduated with a degree in theological studies (or, at least be in pursuit of said degree), would maybe have some kids by that point (or maybe not), would have a nice house with a great backyard somewhere in Miami (or be working towards that) and, most importantly, the majority of my time would be devoted to ministry; the definition of that term being evangelizing, women’s ministry, etc (in other words, something in direct connection to a church).
But my life looks nothing like that.
I’m not married to a pastor. I don’t have a degree in theological studies (and I’m not even in school pursuing said degree). I have a pretty nice house, I’ll give you that, but I don’t own it (and I don’t have the credit to try to buy it). I don’t even live in Miami anymore (and unless God has something great in the works, I don’t see myself moving back). As far as church ministry goes, I barely have time for that apart from my more important ministries (such as my daughter and my husband).
The truth is, we all plan for our lives to go a certain way, but they rarely ever do…and that might actually be a good thing.
In Luke 12, we read the Parable of the Rich Fool. You can go read it for yourself, but in essence, it is about a farmer who, after seeing he has a surplus of crops, decides to build a bigger barn to store them. Because he sees he has a surplus, he now believes he can rest and take it easy. But God says his life will be demanded of him that very night (in other words, all his surplus is useless because he will die that night). Jesus, after speaking this parable, goes on to tell his disciples not to worry about what they will eat or drink. Reason being? God will provide for them. This is where that famous verse comes in:
“But seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you.“ (Luke 12:31)
(These things referring to food to eat and clothing to wear; in other words, basic necessities. That verse tends to get misused a lot, so I needed to point that out. God will not give you a Mercedes-Benz because you “put Him first”.)
Anyway, amidst a few struggles and trials in this season, I find myself learning one lesson: a different path doesn’t mean a better or worse path. It simply means it’s different. God knows what He does. Even if I don’t have all the answers, He does. There is a reason for the struggles my family is currently facing. There is a reason why certain dreams worked out and others didn’t. There is a reason why certain struggles are still present while others aren’t.
God sends us down the path that will bring us closest to Him, the one that will shape us the most into the image of His son. It may be the path of least comfort and pleasure, but more importantly than that, it is a path of refining fire.
Our lives walking with Christ are lives of refining fires, lives constantly being shaped and molded in His image. The fires hurt. The fires burn. But in the end, we end up more righteous and more like Him than we started. We end up with more joy as we pursue Him.
We end up on different paths, but a path with Him leading is the best path of all.