“Hindsight is 20/20.”
I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve said this in conversation the past few weeks. But I really think truer words haven’t been said. The future is uncertain, but the past is absolute. Once something has happened, we get to look back on the chain of events that unfolded into the outcome we now witness.
Depending on who you speak with, people can “live” in any of these time frames. People who are fueled by nostalgia are said to be stuck in the past. Those who tend to plan ahead clearly have their mind on the future, and those who “go with the flow” are said to live in the present moment. For me, living in the present means you’ve got a better grasp of all time frames. If you’re dwelling on the past or the future, it’s more difficult to focus on whichever is opposite. I’ve been told that those who live in the moment tend to be the most reckless. And while that certainly may be the case for some, I find the stigma to be untrue. The present is a time for action. It’s the only frame of time of which we have control; if you control your present self, you affect your future and decide the outcome of your past.
So what’s all this have to do with me? Well, pull up a chair. It’s story time!
Some months ago I strongly felt God’s voice upon my heart to pursue him more. I heard Him more and more often saying, “Follow me! This way! Keep coming!” If you hear the same thing over and over again, it becomes near impossible to ignore. But doing so meant I had to make some sacrifices. Some were easy to make, some were hard, some I’m still making every day. I can’t say I wasn’t scared for what was to come; I had no idea what God had planned for me! But even so, I felt compelled to go to where His voice was calling from.
“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries.”
– Matthew 6:34a
As self-aware as I tried to be at this time, God set in motion a plan that I never could have predicted. It wasn’t soon after this that something miraculous happened: my work schedule was inexplicably opening up and giving me free time! For those who don’t know, I get little to no say on the matter of my hours at work; I’m at the mercy of my employer and I get whatever shift is left over. But I thought, This is amazing! What should I do with all this free time? Again, I heard God’s voice. “Follow me. This way. Over here!” I suddenly realized why my schedule had opened up, and I obeyed. I started getting more involved in a ministry at my church, and I actually became a member of their leadership team! Bit by bit, my time and focus was shifting back to God after so much time away.
At the start of this new season of my life, I had been spending some time with a close friend of mine who was also involved in a different ministry at our church. One week I decided to stop by and say hi, but they were still setting up. I thought the least I could do is help out if I was going to be there. But as the evening went on, I found that it was more than just this one friend I recognized in the ministry. There were several people that I had met years prior who were also there! They seemed so ecstatic to see me, even if I thought I wasn’t really supposed to be there. I still wasn’t quite understanding what God was doing! All these people back in my life, new people I hadn’t previously met, all saying the same thing: “Are we going to see you next week? You should become a small group leader!”
While I did come back every week to see these new friends of mine, I wasn’t sure if jumping into a second ministry was what God had in mind for me. I had already committed to the first group I was a part of, and taking part in two ministries on top of regular Sunday service seemed like suicide! I didn’t want to get burned out on what God had asked me to do for Him. I wanted to continue to serve with a humble and willing heart! Nevertheless I decided to not worry about the future, and I accepted the invitation to join this second ministry and became a small group leader for the church youth group! All signs were pointing to this conclusion and it yet again felt that God just knew more about the bigger picture than I did (no kidding, right?).
As I took this leap of faith, God further blessed me for trusting in His perfect plan. Previously I stated that my work schedule is less than accommodating. But to make matters even more complicated, they create the schedule in 2-3 month chunks. On one hand this is good; if I have to, I can plan out the following week and month around my work schedule and still get stuff done. It’s nice that there are few surprises. But unfortunately, therein lies the flaw: I have to plan my life around my job. And when you’ve been scheduled to work the weekend graveyard shift, that can be a bit of a challenge. Four months ago I would have hated this; I would have been absolutely miserable. But in these past few weeks, I finally saw a glimpse of the bigger picture God was painting. Working this undesirable schedule, I saw that my week was now open for the foreseeable future to continue being involved in both ministries! And oddly enough, I was excited at this revelation! It was further confirmation from the Lord that I’m right where He wants me. Right now, I just can’t help but smile at it all. Especially after last year, I feel so incredibly loved by God. He wants what’s best for me, and I recognize now that it was all part of His plan.
“I’d rather forget and not slow down, than gather regret for what I can’t change now.”
– Relient K
As liberal as we want to be sometimes in life, we’re all afraid of change. Many times we’re comfortable right with where we are, who we are, and what we are. Why change if you’re content? Because sometimes God has something even better in mind for you. You may not realize until after the fact that the time where you thought things were good is actually when you were least happy. For me, I needed a serious wake-up call to realize that I wasn’t truly happy, and I wouldn’t be happy until God became the center of my life again. I try not to focus too much on what has already happened though. That quote above the break from Relient K has been something of a mantra of mine for many years. Why should we worry about our past? Jesus died for our past and He has forgiven us of whatever we’ve done against Him. If you’re willing to now pursue Him with all you are, then just forget and don’t slow down. Try living in the present! It’s all we have for giving back to God.