Being shaped, without a road map

One of my first memories of my college alma mater, John Brown University, was when I visited during their “Fridays” program. It’s just what it sounds like, they have certain Fridays throughout the year when they have prospective students visit campus, stay in the dorms… basically test drive the college.

I was being taken by my host to the health complex that was on the other side of the campus from the dorm where we were staying. Now, JBU isn’t a huge campus, but for a person with a disability who is not used to the Ozark hills, traipsing across campus was still a chore. (Oh, for frame of reference, I was still a mostly full-time walker then so it wasn’t just an easy roll).

Anywho, I remember asking the host, OK so is that where we’re going next? Is that the destination, the next point where we turn? I didn’t mind the distance or even the hard work as long as I knew the next step, the plan.

That’s how I am when I drive, too. I can’t caravan to save my life. People say “oh, just follow me” and I tell them sure, I’ll follow but you have to tell me where you’re going first.

My philosophy has always been, if I don’t know where I’m going, how can I plan for missteps? How can I get there in the best way possible?

Where am I going?

I feel like I’m at that sort of point in my life right now. I’m on a journey, a journey where I’m trying to allow God to shape me into the person he wants me to be. A person that not only believes that her identity is in Christ alone but who actually lives it.

Here’s the deal. I’m fine with not having a solid future plan in place. I’m a week short of being a full year of being unemployed and if God wants me to stay unemployed for another year, I’m game. Considering the ways I’ve been able to heal and grow this last year, I’d be excited to see what God has in store for that additional year. But I want to know about it. I want to know God’s plan.

Life doesn’t work that way, that’s why it’s called faith.

This week, someone who has been a steady source of wisdom and encouragement showed me the hymn Lead Kindly Light and it really spoke to me. More like it smacked me between the eyes!

Here’s the lyrics:

Lead Kindly Light Hymn

Lead, kindly Light, amid th’encircling gloom, lead Thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home; lead Thou me on!
Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene; one step enough for me.

I was not ever thus, nor prayed that Thou shouldst lead me on;
I loved to choose and see my path; but now lead Thou me on!
I loved the garish day, and, spite of fears,
Pride ruled my will. Remember not past years!

So long Thy power hath blest me, sure it still will lead me on.
O’er moor and fen, o’er crag and torrent, till the night is gone,
And with the morn those angel faces smile, which I
Have loved long since, and lost awhile!

Meantime, along the narrow rugged path, Thyself hast trod,
Lead, Savior, lead me home in childlike faith, home to my God.
To rest forever after earthly strife
In the calm light of everlasting life.

I know all the thee’s and thou’s can be hard to understand, but basically the song is saying, Lord, lead me to where you want me to go and I don’t need to know the where.

I’m still working out how this is gonna work, or at least how I can recognize and do this whole trusting God completely thing. I know it doesn’t mean that I should just stop looking for a job because he’ll just drop the right one in my lap. I still have to do my part and like, you know, actually apply for a job. But I firmly believe that he won’t bring that job to me unless it’s the right one.

Shaped like clay, but never hardened

But I think this is bigger than just my job. The healing and growing that’s happened in the last year has touched more than just my work life. I’m realizing that being shaped into the woman God needs me to be is not just about my occupation, it’s about my whole life. It means giving up the parts of me that are holding me back from being that person.

This whole issue was discussed the other night at church. A woman talked about how she gave up her (what I call) hoity toity clothing. Basically, her freshly starched, always perfect-looking style. I started thinking, OK God. I’m ready. So what do I give up, scrapbooking? My love of a weird schedule that is unacceptable to most society?

That’s when it hit me. It isn’t about that woman’s clothes. It’s not about scrapbooking. It’s not about anything specific. It’s about the attitudes that those things represent. I now seek from God to learn what it is in me that needs to be gotten rid of, reshaped.

I have a feeling like it’s going to be a long journey and one that doesn’t stop when I do find that job. But it’s a journey God has called me to take and I’m willing.

Even without having a road map.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

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