I’m not where I hoped to be.
That’s a common phrase amongst us, but there are seasons that echo it louder than others.
It used to be that when I looked around and saw others living larger lives than mine, I’d console myself with the knowledge that they were older than I. You’re young. Just give it a few more years, I’d say. Then I’ll be there.
Well, I overstate. Getting a bachelor’s degree and being almost out of debt from it is an elephantine blessing. I could certainly be in worse health. I’m not desperately miserable at work. The list goes on. I’ve known for a while that there will always be someone better off, and that chasing that is chasing after the wind.
But the battle rose to a new pitch recently when I took another look around at the powerful men surrounding me and realized with a start…they’re all my age.
When did that happen? Seminary degrees. Pilot’s licenses. Racks of gear. Racks of the four-legged variety. Understanding of cars, land usage, and home remodeling (I’m sure the chance to learn that particular “Montana cred” is still ahead of me). Large, happy-looking families that are interested in God and missions. Strong character. A deep knowledge of the Word.
And they’re my age.
That will kick off a crisis in the untrained.
I haven’t made any huge mistakes; life has just turned out…rather ordinary. And I couldn’t believe these guys were only my age…and even younger! With one guy in particular, I would have sworn from his knowledge, his confidence, and his graying hair, that he’s at least forty-five. Nope. Thirty-three. (He’s gray because he has kids.)
Now, God has managed over the years to ram through my thick skull a morbidly comforting secret: they, too, face the temptation to covet. We all do. Neither their gear, their accomplishments, nor their families are consistently and perfectly satisfying them. God is, or nothing is.
But what to do when that truth gets a little stale?
Maybe we don’t value all the same things, but I’ll wager you have your disappointments still.
What to do when God’s plan for your life doesn’t look amazing?
God perfectly timed a podcast in my direction that warned against the diabolical, understated destructiveness of envy. I will not yield to it. God is doing what he pleases with those men. My job? Be an adult, affirm them, and give thanks that I won’t be perishing in any eternal flames.
But God, in his graciousness, gave me still more.
“The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7b)
We’ve known the story since childhood. Samuel is headed by divine destiny for a collision with the youngest son of Jesse, a guy called David. But first, he meets Jesse’s other sons, starting with Eliab. On the outside, Eliab has the look of a king. On the inside…different story.
I’m not saying the men I admire are Eliabs. Quite the contrary. Their hearts are admirable.
I’m saying that this week, God retasked 1 Samuel 16:7 into terrific news for my not-really-a-midlife-crisis: anyone’s heart can be changed, and that’s all God wants. Anyone’s heart can be molded into a treasure through Christ’s transforming work in their inner being. All we need to do is surrender to it and seek it. You needn’t be a pastor, missionary, CEO, politician or anything else to get this. You need only be a Christian.
The truth about God’s amazing plan for your life is that it requires God’s definition of amazing. It’s the world, not God, that defines “amazing” in terms of talent, visibility, possessions, or wage. People in desperate need of Christ exist in every department store, restaurant, factory, and office complex in the world. Therefore, God sends his people to those places. Only when we define ourselves by the world’s standards do those missions look substandard.
Unless you assumed God just doesn’t care about the soul of the guy manning the fryer for minimum wage.
If you’ve left God behind because an “amazing plan” never materialized, you missed Scripture’s promise. God’s plan for our lives is to learn joy in every circumstance, become more like Christ, and become a light to the world. The plan is either on the inside or driven by it. So there’s nothing of eternal significance that can’t be done from your current station. God has seen to that. What kind of God would he be if he were limited to using certain people? No, it glorifies him to use all types.
This may also be why you’ve experienced suffering. Scripture also tells us that pain squeezes the juice of visible joy and righteousness from us. It’s not pleasant…until others see it and go, “Hey…that Christian isn’t destroyed by hard times! What’s their secret?” Lead someone to Christ and tell me that’s not an “amazing plan”.
Shall we diminish God’s power by putting ourselves down because of our current station? May it never be.
Run back to Jesus, friend. He still wants to use you.