Fun fact: My senior year of high school I applied to the University of San Francisco as a theology major. I seriously considered going into ministry. Then I found out that if I did this I would spend my freshman year living in an all girls dorm supervised by a priest and I went with plan b (ZooMass Amherst, where I was a double major in tequilla and bad life choices).
There’s still a small part of me that wants to go in that direction. I daydream occasionally about being a pastor or a worship leader. I’ve just never been able to get fully on board with organized religion and at the end of the day, I know that isn’t my calling.
However, whilst daydreaming, I’ve thought about the messages I would give. If I could preach one message, what would that message be?
It would be this….
Growing up, I was never bored. I grew up on a quiet, dead end street. The house my family lived in sat on top of a big hill and was surrounded by other houses, all with kids my age living in them. We didn’t have iPhones or the internet, or even cable. We had swing sets, a skip-it, and a lot of imagination. And when all those things failed to entertain me, I had two really creative parents. My parents loved to surprise my sister and me. My mom or dad would wake us up in the morning saying “I have a surprise for you today” and those words would immediately send butterflies rushing into my stomach. I’d leap out of bed, pick out the perfect outfit, and rush downstairs for more clues on what this “surprise” could be.
I remember one time in particular. I’m not sure how old I was, but I was young. I woke up and went downstairs and was greeted by my mother saying “I have a suprise for you today”. The usual butterflies danced in my belly as I hurried through breakfast and ran upstairs to pick out the right sweater/leggings-tucked-into-my-socks combo for such an occasion. One hour and four “I have nothing to wear” temper tantrums later (I was a bit of a drama queen back then), my sister and I piled into the car, excited for the day.
The drive was long and I was growing impatient. I kept asking “How much longer?” and “When are we going to be there?”, and the more I whined, the less fun the entire experience became.
I believe that when we are created, God does something similar to what my mother did that day. He whispers “I have a surprise for you” into all of our hearts. Most people refer to this “surprise” as our “calling” or “purpose”, and most of us have no idea what that is until God reveals it to us. However, we spend a lot of time trying to guess what that surprise might be and when it will be unveiled.
I remember being in the car, and in between my moans and groans, I started to guess where we were going. The more wrong answers I guessed, the more frustrated I became, and the more annoyed my sister was. Megan (my sister) was fine with not knowing where we were going and was smart enough to know we’d get there eventually and all would be revealed, so she just sat back and enjoyed the ride (as best she could with her obnoxious little sister squealing every 2 minutes).
So, are you a Megan, or an Amelia? Are you able to sit in the passenger seat of your life, calmly, trusting that what God has in store for you is great and will be shown to you when the time is right? Or, do you wiggle and squirm and try to guess where you’re going or scream “when are we going to be there”?
I personally strive to be more like Megan every day (in a lot of ways, but this one in particular). That kind of patience and trust is essential to living a happy life. It goes back to what I’ve posted about in the last two entries, dealing with anixety and the “I can’t wait” mindset. I know, it’s easier said than done, but if we can just let go of this need to control everything that happens to us or for us, we can all live in one of my favorite cliches, “it’s not about the destination, but the journey”.
The best thing I learned from moments like this in my childhood is that the outcome of these surprises was always a hundred times better than what I could have ever imagined or guessed. That particular day, I spent the very long car ride guessing we were going to McDonald’s or the mall or the playground. We ended up at an apple orchard and spent all day picking apples, riding in the hay wagons, and eating apple doughnuts. It was a better adventure than I could have anticipated.
And that’s exactly what God has in store for us. We can’t even begin to imagine what He has planned for our lives. Jeremiah 29:11 says “‘ 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.'” And in Luke 18:27, Jesus says, “What is impossible with man is possible with God”. Put these two verses together and you’ve got a God that can do anything for you and plans to do just that.