The Path That Lies Ahead: Leaving the Ideal Behind

This past weekend, I was a leader for a discipleship weekend for students in our student ministry. During the weekend, somehow we got onto the topic of relationships and what not. One of my students began seeking some advice and wisdom on this topic, and the room went silent in disbelief when I told my students that I had no experience in that area. Yes, it is true. I’ve never ventured into the realm of romantic relationships. Up until a few years ago, I never saw any purpose in it. During high school, I definitely did not see any need for that kind of unnecessary pressure. My life at that time would not have allowed for any kind of beneficial gains from that pursuit. Why? I was not as wise or as smart as I thought of myself. Secondly, I would have stumbled and ultimately have fumbled through the minefield that is romantic relationships. That was then and this is now. Still, into my mid-twenties, I have not dated. I am not ashamed of this, rather I am grateful. Grateful to have been able to watch other’s as a spectator, to learn from other’s mistakes and to learn from people’s successes. To watch Godly people come together in a union that points back to the goodness of God. To have mentors who live by example to myself and the many people they’ve taken under their wings. Even now, while I expectantly wait for God’s infallible timing, I look to those who pour themselves out onto others. So what am I getting at? Well, Y’all, I’ll tell you.

In the last couple years, I’ve grown restless. I’ve been discontent with my circumstances and have tried to force my hand and my will into places where it is either not needed or not the right time. I’ve relied on my own power, I’ve existed in a place where I’ve not seen what God’s been doing around me or in me. I’ve blinded myself from seeing the bigger picture. I am not resentful for my situation, and in fact, my singleness is only a small fraction of my life. I do not have remorse for not having dated or married. Yet, I see where I’ve failed to live up to the standard that Christ has called me to. Y’all, let’s be honest for a moment. I’m quite the idealist. Ideally, I would have been done with college by this point in time. I would have my own home. I’d have my own ministry to lead. I’d have my life together. Ideally. The problem is that my idea of what is ideal is flawed. Lacking the clarity found when examining the bigger picture. My perception of my life is singularly through my own lens. I’ve not had the sight that Christ has, nor the intuition to look beyond my circumstances.

I was continuing to read Ben Stuart’s Single. Dating. Engaged. Married. of which I’ve only managed to get a handful of more pages into before being convicted by the Holy Spirit (again). Y’all, this hurts in the right kind of why. While I have sought what I have found to be the ideal, I’ve not truly learned to value that which has the upmost importance and significance. I’ve not learned to fully trust God with my life and to find myself accepting the fullness and extent of his love. In an ideal world, Adam would have stopped Eve from eating of the fruit. In an ideal world, we would not know sickness or death. We would live in harmony with God in his creation. We would not feel the depravity of sin. We would not experience shame or guilt. We would be lacking nothing. However, because Adam stood by and did nothing as Eve was deceived by the snake, we have fallen into an unideal world. We experience pain, hurt, sickness, and death. We feel isolation, separation, and desperation. Why? Because we lack God. We’ve separated ourselves from the purpose of creation. By now, y’all are probably asking where my singleness comes into correlation with the ideal world. Well, I’m not entirely sure. Yet, I know that I’m lacking in so much.

My shortsightedness in regards to my life have put me into the perspective of comparison, at least in the recent past. The majority of people I graduated high school with have already completed college. A good handful have already completed their master’s degree. Some have married and have children. Others have bought homes. Some have started businesses. Others I have no idea. Yet, here I am. Still living in the same town, in the same house, staring at the same four walls. I’ve been restlessly trying to claw myself out of a pit that only I see. Only I feel that I’ve lagged behind the pack. That I’ve wasted time or lost opportunity. The truth is that I have not lost anything. I’ve just not learned to trust God. To see the things the way he does. What’s my hurry? Why am I so dedicated to make my life out to be the way I want? Why do I neglect my God who is so full of love and grace and mercy and incomprehensible?

The reason for my singleness, the reason for my circumstances at this stage of life is not, and hear my words carefully y’all, to punish me. God is not denying me something or holding something back. God is not toying with me or teasing me. God is not malicious. God wants me to value and appreciate what is best for me. That means trusting that what he has in store for my life is greater than what I have envisioned. Frankly, God’s plans are always far, far better than you or I could ever imagine. If I’m going to be honest, God’s given me a great many things that have assisted in forming me into a better and better man. I have a community of college students who pour into my life, who share in life together. I have a ministry of students whom I lead and serve. I have not one, but many job opportunities. From Chick-fil-A to my media contracting to the various odd and ends. I have an abundance of opportunity. I have an education that has not only given me a thorough understanding of theology but also a desire to apply scripture to my life. I have been blessed in countless ways, and I am not always grateful. So in the moment, the things we want and desire may not be what are best for us. They may not be beneficial. However, the things God has in store for us are always the best. Why? Because God has a plan and a purpose for our lives. He knows what is best for us. His best is exceedingly better than what ever idealistic, romanticized version of my life that I can come up with.

So, as I wait, I am expectant. Expectant that God will do big things. That he will use me to further his kingdom. That he will use my circumstances to bring other’s into his flock. That my life will be of engaged and intentional purpose. That he will exceed my wants and desires in such a way that it points back to his grace and mercy and goodness. So my singleness or lack of experience is not a detriment. It is not something of shame. It is not something being denied or held from me. Rather, it is a time for me to be exceedingly intentional in pursuing God. For him to be my sole focus, my sole desire. That I may not want or worry about what lies around the bend in the river, the fork in the road. But that my faithfulness would increasing abundantly. That my trust in him would be so blind that when he say go, that I would go without hesitation. My singleness, then, is not so single. My singleness is being bonded to God, pursuing his will. He and he alone is my source of life so that I may be a source of life to another. So whatever God in store for my life, whether it is here where I am or halfway around the world. I will be faithful. I will be trusting. I will go without question. I will go without hesitation. The path that lies ahead is one that I do not know, but is one that I will walk with blind trust.

Perhaps, when God says the time is right, I will meet the woman who will exceed my flawed perceptions but will be the one God intended all along. Perhaps, when God says the time is right, I will finish school and begin to follow God into the next stage of life. Perhaps, when God says the time is right, I will have a job that is not a job, but is a ministry. In the meanwhile, I can only be expectant of God to do big things. Both in my life and in this world. I must have faith. I must have trust. I must remind myself that what I want in the moment may not be what is best or appropriate, but rather a hindrance and a distraction. May you and you along, God, be the eyes in which I see life.

 

Grace and Peace,

Terren-It-Up

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