Trusting God’s Imagination

Sometimes the most auspicious turns in life are the ones we didn’t want.  We ask God for help executing our plans without offering to help him do his.  An insightful reader was kind enough to share her story about trusting God and his imagination.

After losing his 20 year old business, my husband was looking for work.  He had a lousy job with little pay for a couple of years, and we were very grateful for that. His raises were absolutely pitiful. I mean insultingly pitiful!  So he was applying for everything he could find with better pay.

He applied for a newly created position with the city.  It was a good fit for him, and I was just positive that God would give it to him.  I was certain I knew the will of the Lord at this point. Jeremiah 29:11 had come to me. “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.”  I stood on that promise.

A few weeks went by, and he got a letter in the mail.  You know the ones.  They say, “Thank you for applying, we had many applicants, and we chose another guy,” all very polite.  I just didn’t believe my eyes, and I didn’t let go, either.  I told my husband that the Lord would come through, that the guy they hired would end up being a drunk, or a lazy worker, or some other thing would happen and they would end up calling him and asking him if he was still interested. I took the letter and wrote Jeremiah 29:11 out on the front of the envelope, sure that God was going to pull a rabbit out of a hat.  I kept that letter on my desk and prayed over it, laying hands on it for over a year!

Now let me clear up a few details.  If he had been offered the municipal job, he would have given 2 weeks notice at the crappy paying job, that crappy paying job that was barely getting us by.  I later learned that the city never actually opened the position that I was so sure God would hand to my husband.  No one ever got that title or that pay check.  Had my husband been selected for that position, he would have lost his paying job and been stuck with NO job!

Now it took a little over a year, but God did keep his promise.  Another company created a new position to handle a 75 % sales increase resulting from big contracts with HEB and Walmart.  The company has been very good to him.  It’s a family owned and operated strong Christian business that God blessed just as he blessed my husband with hiring him there.  God’s ways are not our ways. His plans are not our plans, and I am very thankful for that!

Join the conversation.  Have you ever greeted a life change as a travesty when actually the outcome was better than the best you could imagine?

Copyright 2011 Stephanie Walker All rights reserved. Visit www.AcrossTraditions.com.

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Will of God: Do I want that, too?

Our biggest obstacle to doing God’s will, or even perceiving God’s will, is a preoccupation with what we want instead.  It takes commitment and discipline to recognize the difference.  My godfather has that commitment and discipline, and he still wrestles with his will.  We had lunch last week, and he relayed his prayerful reflections while driving to the office that day.  He was extremely pleased with the plan he had for his day in the office.  He didn’t really want to ask God if God might have something else in store for him.  “I’m asking you if you have a different plan, God, but I’m not happy about asking you, because I really, really like my plan!”

We tend to get in our own way on the journey to healing and life change because we resist taking that difficult step of creating a power vacuum to make space for God’s power to act in our lives.  There is a Jewish saying that you can’t pour water into a cup that’s already full.  “Islam” translates roughly to “surrender.”  Eastern traditions teach transcending self is necessary to ease suffering.  The Twelve Step tradition teaches self-centeredness is the root of life’s unmanageability and surrendering our will to God is the route to sanity.  The Christian tradition teaches Jesus’ life and resurrection represents the rebirth and newness of life that is available to all willing “to die to self.”  These spiritual traditions embrace the idea of emptiness—both emptying the mind to encounter the soul and, more especially, emptying oneself of one way of being to make space for a new way of becoming.

When we surrender our wants and ways to God, we make room for God to act in our lives, joining God as a partner in the creative process and inviting the kind of transformational life change we cannot even imagine.  C.S. Lewis encourages us to trust God’s imagination:

We are halfhearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered to us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea.

When I realize God’s imagination for me is better than mine for myself, I can relinquish my silly notions that I know best how to satisfy myself.  Whether those notions have led me to complete devastation or to a dull ache of emptiness (“There’s got to be more”), relinquishing them will free my imagination for the destination God would have for me.

When we have decided that an increasingly intimate relationship with God is the destination we seek, then recognizing and taking up his will for us becomes part of the destination as well.  What God desires is not so much a certain accomplishment as a certain reciprocal relationship.  God gives, we respond, and when we’re aligned to God’s will, our response to the gift is itself a gift to God.  When we seek God’s will in pursuit of this reciprocal relationship, we bring joy to him, to others and to ourselves.

Join the conversation.  When God put an opportunity you didn’t plan (or didn’t want) in your path, did you alter course or stick with mudpies?

Copyright 2011 Stephanie Walker All rights reserved. Visit www.AcrossTraditions.com.