Prayer and Hard Work

“For I know well the plans I have in mind for you, says the LORD, plans for your welfare, not for evil! Plans to give you a future full of hope.” –Jeremiah 29:11

Being from a small city, I grew up believing I would one day move away and live somewhere exciting and amazing. My friends and I all had big plans for college and our future. We spent a lot of time looking at schools and applications and trying to decide what we wanted to do with our life. When my senior year of high school came, I had narrowed down my choice to two possible universities: UT Austin and UTPB. I sent off my application to those two schools knowing that I was going to go to UT because it would take me away from home and to a new life. After all, I had only applied to UTPB as a requirement for a program I was in. However, by the time I received my acceptance letter in the mail from UT, I knew my plans had changed, and I would be staying home.


Most people did not question my choice because they saw it as the more practical one, but a few people thought I was crazy to give up the chance to leave home. They questioned my decision and thought I would waste away in this town, never accomplish my goals, and never truly experience life. At the time, I told everyone I was staying because it was what I wanted…but really, it was what God wanted. I had prayed about my choice, and I truly believed God wanted me to stay home, and He would let me leave when the time was right.


It has been six years since I made the choice to stay, and I would be lying if I said there hadn’t been times when I wished I had left when I had the chance or times when I wondered what my life would have been like if I had left, but even then, I don’t regret staying. God continues to keep me here and, as long as I keep letting God take charge of my life, I will be happy. He has given me so many experiences I would not have been able to have if I had lived anywhere else. I’ve travelled to different countries, been a missionary and helped lead teens closer to Christ, finished my Master’s degree, made friends, and learned about love and life.


I stayed home not really knowing if I would ever leave or be able to get a job here, and I have allowed God to take me to different countries and states without knowing anyone there. Both of these risks not many people would take. I have also spent my time and money applying to 16 different universities over the past five years just to be rejected and end up exactly where I am now. At this point, I feel most people would just stop trying and put their energy into something that would bring more immediate results. I have even thought of doing that myself because it is not easy to deal with so much rejection, especially not when every dream you have depends on the decisions of others. You can’t be one of the 5 out of 500 to get into a psychology PhD program without someone else’s acceptance; you can’t start a family by yourself, and you can’t do either without money.


It is easy to compare your life to another’s life. We see others succeed in areas we would like to succeed in, and we see others make things that are so difficult for us seem so easy. I constantly have to remind myself that my life is good and God knows what He’s doing just so that I won’t become so preoccupied with what I want but do not have. It’s not easy wanting something that seems so out of reach…it’s not easy to see the finish line but not be able to cross it.


With the odds of getting into grad school being so low, it would be so simple to just stop trying now and settle for what I already know I have…but if I do that, I would not be honoring God’s promise to me (Jer 29:11). I have trusted God to get me this far, and even through the disappointments, He’s never failed me.


I always tell others that fear is not of God, but once again, I have forgotten to take my own words to heart. I keep letting the fear and the hurt of not getting accepted keep me from trying again. I keep putting myself in situations that make it harder for me to leave, and I keep focusing too much on what I want right now. I keep waiting for things to change, but if I’ve learned anything in life, it’s that some of the only things that get you anywhere good in life are prayer and hard work.  


I see so many people give up on or lose track of their dreams, and it makes me sad because I cannot imagine a world where I would do the same. It won’t be easy, and I know it is not in my power to decide the timing of everything; but if I just keep working hard and never give up on God’s promise, I will eventually accomplish everything at the right time for me.

I don’t pray for patience, I pray for strength.

Originally Written and Posted: January 4, 2012

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“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven…”

“To know what would have happened, child? No. Nobody is ever told that. But anyone can find out what will happen. If you go back to the others now, and wake them up; and tell that you have seen me again; and that you must all get up at once and follow me—what will happen? There is only one way of finding out.” 

                                                                                      –Aslan in Prince Caspian

 

As I get to the end of my time in school (at least for a while), the question I most get asked is, “What are you doing next?” At first, the question frustrated me because it reminded me what I wanted to do next did not depend on me and my decisions, it depended on others and on whether I would be good enough to serve their purpose. For a while, everyone I encountered felt they knew what was best for me. Do this, do that, work here, live there, leave, run, go… I was constantly bombarded with options of what I should do with my life. I felt rushed to do something, to choose what to do with the rest of my life in just a single moment.


During the past few months, I have found it disheartening that so few people realize the good things in life often take time. It is as if people are afraid time will pass them by. They try to compensate for their feelings by either trying to live in the moment or trying to plan every second of their future. Those who live in the moment so often look for what will make them happy now and for what will satisfy their immediate needs; those who plan every second often seek impossible ideals. I have always felt life needed to be lived somewhere in between these two views. Life is about waiting and praying for the best. What happens after the waiting and praying is God’s will.


I am reminded of the story of Esther, when I think about waiting and praying:


“For if you keep silence at such a time as this, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another quarter, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this? Then Esther told them to reply to Mordecai, “Go, gather all the Jews to be found in Susa, and hold a fast on my behalf, and neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day. I and my maids will also fast as you do. Then I will go to the king, though it is against the law; and if I perish, I perish.”

                                                                            -Esther 4:14-16


In the eyes of the world, Esther’s purpose in life was to be their new queen…to live happily ever after with their king. God, however, intended Esther to serve a much greater purpose. She was obedient to God and allowed His courage to be her strength. She went against the world, but did not forget to take the time to pray and prepare herself properly for what was to come. Even though it might have been easier to act impulsively so as to have less time to dwell on what she might lose, she chose to wait and do things in God’s time.


The world is a confusing place. We try to find our purpose in others and in the things of this world, and we forget to find our purpose in God. Sometimes, we lose sight of what really matters because we are too busy trying to please everyone else. We choose the easy path, instead of God’s path.


For too long, I tried to find my purpose in others, and I felt my purpose would be fulfilled when I got accepted to the right school. I thought I would finally know what I was doing with my life. Honestly, though, I was not happy with the uncertainty of this life. The only thing uncertainty brings is fear, and you cannot accomplish anything when you live in fear. 


I spent so long trying to make sure the future worked out that I forgot to wait and let God take care of me. I let my heart get broken, and I let my true purpose in life remain unfulfilled. If I had taken my own advice and truly waited for God to move, then maybe my life would have turned out differently, but life is life and you can never know what would have been.


However, you can always find out what comes next; and there is only one way to find out what will happen next: that is to follow God. I am through living a life of uncertainty, for now I will live a life of patience.


“I don’t know what I want, so don’t ask me ‘cause I’m still trying to figure it out. Don’t know what’s down this road, I’m just walking…and tomorrow’s just a mystery…but that’s okay…maybe I’m just a girl on a mission, but I’m ready to fly.” -A Place in this World by Taylor Swift

 

Originally Written and Posted: May 4, 2011 at 3:33pm