I have a great plan for my life. It's exciting and adventurous and wild. I want to backpack Europe and then live in the rainforest and then hike the Himalayas and then roadtrip through Mexico in an old jeep. My plan is perfect.
But what if my plan isn't God's plan?
Everyone quotes Jeremiah 29:11. I don't doubt that God has a plan for my life, but what if God's plan is for me to be a stay-at-home mother in Pennsylvania? That wouldn't be a bad life and plenty of women daydream about doing just that, but for me, I can't imagine ever settling down in one place. I'd rather be homeless on the streets of France in the middle of my backpacking adventure.
The last couple months have been really tough as I struggled with this. How am I supposed to know that God's will is truly better than mine?
I had to write a paper this semester on the book of Romans. I chose the passage of Romans 8:1-13 because it was some really nice Scripture and it seemed like I could get it done fairly easily. But as I read it, I was hit with conviction.
The whole passage is about the difference between a person who lives according to the flesh and one who lives according to the Spirit.
If a person lives according to the flesh, he is controlled by his own desires. While this sounds terrible, like a desire to cheat or a desire to murder, in my case, it was simply my own future desires that were controlling me. I wasn't trusting God and was instead focusing on what I wanted in life. I was pursuing what would make me happy, what would make me comfortable.
Now, I don't want to run away to Europe just to make memories. I would want to befriend people and share the love of God. I'd want to help out in anyway possible. Isn't that a worthy cause? Isn't that acceptable? Isn't that a fair reason to choose my plan over God's?
Verse 8 says simply, "Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God."
Even though I have good intentions, I can never please God if I am purposely choosing my way over His. And this was the biggest slap in the face.
I want to please God. I want my life to mean something. When I get to heaven, I want God to be proud of me and for my bravery of letting God take control of my life.
Because that's what it is. It's bravery. To let go of control takes a lot of guts. For the last couple of months, I've been too scared that my life wouldn't be great if God was in control of it. This is where faith comes in. This is the difference between living by the flesh and living by the Spirit.
If I lived by the flesh, I could do whatever I wanted whenever I want to. But to live by the Spirit means to be willing to do whatever the Spirit wants whenever the Spirit wants.
While I studied the passage, the last verse (Romans 8:13) says to put to death the deeds of the flesh, of your sinful nature, of your own desires. When Paul wrote this, he wrote it in the present tense. This means that we must constantly, daily put to death our own fleshly desires and give control back to God.
And that means maybe I won't get to ride a motorcycle across Ireland or work in an orphanage in Thailand. But I know that God gave me an adventurous spirit, and I don't think He would let that go to waste. So I'm trusting in Him that He'll send me somewhere, anywhere. I just have to have the faith that wherever He leads me will be better than my own plans.
Because let's face it - doing it myself hasn't worked out so well lately.
It's time to have faith and live by the Spirit. It's time to see where God takes me. It's time to live out the amazing plan that God has for me. It's time to be brave.
Photo credit to Natalie Hagen photography.