I most likely hold the record for the weirdest GPS mix-up of all time. The first part wasn’t my fault. Who knew that my faithful old Tom Tom would direct me to a Jewish temple instead of the pizza place I had punched in?
Now, the second part in which I failed to realize that I had reached a place of worship instead of a pizzeria and began walking around inside asking where I could order my food…that was probably my fault.
The third part in which I finally wised up to the situation, yet became incredibly fascinated with the building and decided to explore it instead of leave..that was definitely my fault. (The kind secretary who found me wandering about the halls and gave me directions to a real restaurant was a lifesaver. She also looked at me like I was an alien.)
For the fourth part, in which I decided that I had not yet creeped out quite enough people, and that I should stay and watch a bit of the children’s program that was happening that evening…the blame also lies entirely in my court. Who knew that a junior, dramatic production of the book of Esther could have such an emotional effect on a person? If I had known that I would suddenly be overcome with compassion for an entire room of people who had no idea who Jesus was, burst into tears, and run out the back door (nearly bulldozing my new secretary friend), perhaps I wouldn’t have stayed.
Then again, knowing what I do now about God’s gracious method of placing purposeful detours in our lives, perhaps I would have hung out a little longer and sobbed my way through the Second Act.
Looking back, I could brush off the incident as a laughable, yet simple, mistake, a mere distraction that kept me from getting my pizza on time. Or, I could see it as a God ordained opportunity to learn something I couldn’t have otherwise.
In our attempts to follow God’s will, we are often too quickly frustrated when we find ourselves in situations that don’t seem relevant to His larger calling on our lives.
God, I know You want me to be a doctor, so why do I have to take this year off of grad school to work in order to pay for next year’s tuition? Why aren’t You providing for me?
God, I know You want me to be a wife and mother, so why am I graduating from college as a single woman with no romantic prospects? Did I mishear You?
God, I know You put this dream in my heart to work in foreign missions, so why am I stuck working retail in Wisconsin? What is the point of this in between time?
In these moments of confusion and distrust (which I experience often), we need to consider the possibility that we have been asking the wrong questions.
God’s priority is never so much about what we are “doing,” as is it about who we are “becoming.”
We get so hung up on charting our life progress in terms of society’s benchmarks like education, career, and recognition, that we miss God’s grading system entirely.
God’s tape measure is not wrapping around the size of our achievements, but always curling around the shape of our spirit, and the growth of our likeness into the Image of His Son. He didn’t send Jesus to make climbing the corporate ladder a more expedited process. He sent Jesus to draw us into the life-giving process of growing oneness with Himself.
When I worked as an admissions counselor, I would often have long conversations with distraught high school seniors who desperately wanted to follow God’s will for their lives but weren’t sure what that looked like. They were frozen with indecision about schools and majors, afraid that one wrong choice would forever dislodge them from God’s will.
The words of comfort God gave me to share with these applicants remain relevant for both students and “grown ups” in all walks of life.
“God is not so much concerned with what you are going to ‘do’ when you grow up, whether you become a doctor or a lawyer or a teacher, as He is concerned with who you are going to ‘be’ when you grow up.
Will you ‘be’ a man or woman of character? Will you ‘be’ a man or woman after His own heart? When we focus our efforts on our intimate connection with Christ and becoming more like Him, all those other details about schools and majors and careers will simply fall into place. It may take time, but we can trust that He will work everything out for good. God is never late, but He is never early.”
For those of you feeling stuck or sidelined, and wondering how in the world you ended up at a “temple” instead of a “pizza place,” remember this-
More than God wants you to be a college graduate, He wants you to be a student of His heart.
More than God wants you to have a successful career, He wants you to have a vibrant, thriving relationship with Him.
More than God wants you to look accomplished, He wants you to look like Jesus.
This perspective shift on God’s priorities completely changes our view on life’s little detours. Instead of meaningless times of rerouting, you can remember that your situation has been crafted specifically to make you more like Jesus. Without this experience, you might miss a crucial aspect of intimacy with Him.
Jesus is the One Goal in life we need to be concerned about missing.
For me, the timing of the “temple” incident couldn’t have been more perfect. During that season of my life, I was feeling completely sidetracked from the goals I felt God had given me, and confused about where He was taking me. In my personal Bible studies, I was repeatedly drawn to Solomon’s construction of the Temple and God’s promise that He would help Solomon to complete his dream if he would simply stay “strong and courageous” and continue to “do the work” no matter what happened. (1) Wouldn’t you know it, engraved in giant letters into the foyer of the temple I “accidentally” visited, was a verse about Solomon completing his temple. It was as if God was whispering in not so subtle terms, “Nothing about your situation is a mistake. Even this GPS malfunction was preprogrammed to let you know that I am still guiding your every step. Just take courage and remain faithful to My call, and I promise I will complete the dream I planted in you.”
So slow down friend. Breathe. Stay strong and courageous! Resist the urge to throw your spiritual GPS out the window and follow your own impulses. Just because you haven’t arrived at your intended goal yet, doesn’t mean you aren’t on the right track.
Jesus is right here. You aren’t missing a thing.
(1) 1 Chronicles 28:20
(2) More more information on fully living during your single season, read these posts from my series, “5 Things Every Single, Christian, Girl Should Know” …”Your Single Season is NOT an Intermission” or “Delight Yourself in the Lord and He WILL Give You the Desires of Your Heart“