One of the things that has been pressing on my mind lately is the strange way that certain moments and decisions have a huge effect on our lives.
When I was in college, I needed to get a job. I applied at lots of restaurants, since I had experience as a waiter, but none of them were hiring. So I started looking elsewhere for work. My roommate was working at a group home for developmentally disabled adults. I didn’t think I wanted to work there, since I had heard a lot of stories about how hard it was, and I honestly didn’t think I would be able to cope.
But I decided to apply anyhow. Decision one.
I got the job. I really liked working there, even though the job was messy at times. But it was a great working environment and my coworkers were wonderful people.
The nature of the job, however, meant that there always had to be 2 people at the house. And that didn’t always work, since we were often short-staffed. I picked up extra shifts and didn’t realize that in doing so, I was jeopardizing my learning. I didn’t have as much time to work on school, and it stressed me out, but only in a few classes (with a particular teacher who I will call Dr. Pembroke).
After several years of classes with Dr. Pembroke, and working at this group home, I finally got to the point where I was working 55 hours a week (though 14 of those were sleeping hours), going to school full time, doing my pre-student teaching, and being president of the college choir. Looking back now, I don’t know what I was thinking.
But I decided that the thing that needed to loosen up was my homework, since I could give a little in that area. Decision two.
So I didn’t do my all-out best on a big project. I still did it and worked hard on it, but not my best. Dr. Pembroke gave me 17 points on the project. Out of 200. Harsh. And totally unmerited, in my opinion. If I had turned it in to another one of my professors, I would have gotten a B, maybe a C.
Needless to say I failed the class and had to repeat it. But I was supposed to do my student teaching the next semester. That got put on hold. Graduation would be delayed by a semester.
I had been communicating with a school in Alaska. They had been interested in me and even had a 4th grade position lined up and ready for me in the fall. But that wouldn’t work anymore.
If I had not made those decisions, I would have gone to Alaska during the summer. I would never have visited camp and met Laurel, my girlfriend. We got to know each other during the time when I would have been in Alaska.
If I had not made those decisions, I would have been in Alaska and not heard about the job in Nigeria. I would never have gone there and seen that perhaps He is calling me elsewhere. I would have maintained my tunnel vision focused on the continent of Africa.
If I had not made those decisions, I would not have come to China. I would not have even considered moving to Asia. I would not have met any of the wonderful people I know and love here.
You know, when I think back on my story, I can see so clearly that His Hand is guiding me. I don’t know what’s going on in your life right now. I might not even know who you are or where you are from.
But I know that His plan is always good for those who love Him - for those who call Him Lord. I know that even the dirt and shame of our past can be used for His glory.
So though you may be filled with joy or sorrow, peace or shame, know that His way is always best. Really. He doesn't leave us to drown in uncertainty; but He tells us, in no uncertain terms, that He is with us. And in the end, even though there may be tears and brokenness now, he has given us a beautiful inheritance - that we can know and love Him through the sacrifice of His Son.