When we were first married my husband and I had big dreams. We saw ourselves being power brokers and young professionals in this dynamic age. I worked for an UN agency endeavoring to empower adolescents and he founded a top-notch consulting firm. We also began a young professionals group that would tackle community and economic issues relevant to our population. There were political aspirations, dreams of frequent and particular international travel. We had a seven year plan and it was marvelous. Our chic apartment had three bedrooms and two bathrooms (abnormal for Brooklyn abodes), enough room for an office and nursery- when the time was right. We were on track and knew exactly where we were heading. Baby in four years, house in three, millionaires in seven. I was excited.
Of course you can tell that something unexpected is about to happen. The dramatic build up and all.
Our seven year plan disintegrated. I saw it dematerialize in my hands. In a Tuesday night prayer meeting at Brooklyn Tabernacle God spoke to us and said ORU, Tulsa Oklahoma. Six months into our marriage we packed our belongings and moved. Three years in Tulsa, learning about our faith tradition, reshaping our perspective and sharpening our spiritual formation. Graduated Seminary and went to Indonesia to become missionaries.
Three years off track.
But what an extraordinary three years! How we loved Jakarta, mie goring, Pancious and Bahasa. Things that have become part of us forever.
Four years off track.
Back to New York, unemployed, homeless and soon to be pregnant. It all seemed like a failed endeavor, a flight of whimsy- a bad decision. How could I do these things for God but still be in my present situation? That’s not the way it worked. I scratch God’s back and He scratched mine. I mumbled and complained and even took a little break from the God thing for a while. Until the voice of God was able to get through my sadness and I was reminded of the real reason for living. To give yourself to the thing you were created to do. To give yourself away, to surrender to say yes.
But there is always great cost and sacrifice required when you decide to give this way.
You give away your own expectations and plans in exchange for a heavenly direction. One that is not always clearly understood. You are confident it is the right decision but what we must also be confident of is what the decision will cost you. Because although the decision to follow is amazing, fulfilling, wonderful, and spectacular above all we could dream, it is still difficult, disappointing and rocky.
I made a decision to follow God. I went with stars in my eyes. If I could do it differently, I would go instead with determination in my eyes. It takes determination to see something through to the end without complaining and doubt. It takes a full-on recognition of what you’re in this thing for. It requires that with full awareness you walk forward, having counted the cost. Having understood that the road you are about to walk will transform your destiny AND you decide to walk it anyway. How important it is to walk forward with full awareness. Of course we can never know the full picture but we can know in part and be fully committed to that part. You know when you are called your life will never be the same. So take the change and own it. Take the change and find joy in it. Take the change and say this is what the Lord is doing in my life and it is marvelous. Count the cost so that when you get on the journey you are not found mumbling but you are found rejoicing because with sobriety you entered into this calling knowing it would cost you something but also confident and committed to see it through.
I’m daily having to remember this. I know what my choices were. I know the things I’ve decided and I have come to a decision – “I will not regret anything I have given up for the Lord.” So today I hope to encourage you with the same acknowledgement. Don’t regret saying yes. Don’t regret giving your love. Don’t regret falling in love. Don’t regret having that child. Don’t regret taking care of sick parents or loved ones. Don’t regret building someone up. Don’t regret anything you have done in love for others and in love for God. The impact you’re making is eternal. People will remember you and you will know that the life you are living was the one you were always meant for.