I thought I’d address this question on a brief break from the confessions because it’s something that I have wrestled with for a long time, and I think the clouds are starting to clear. Also, I think this relates back to the pride thing, and how it can affect our relationship to God (which is something I didn’t address before).
Basically, what I want to talk about is the idea that God needs us to do certain things so that his plan will work. I’m going to talk about a few times in my life this attitude has been exhibited and what has led me to change my thinking.
I had always been very skeptical when people say that God spoke to them through a vision or a dream. I thought that such things were flimsy and unreliable as a way of hearing from God.
A few years ago, when my faith was shaky at best, I started to feel anxious that my life was not on track with God’s plan. I started searching for meaning and purpose and what in the world God wanted me to do with my life (these questions become more prominent with the lead up to the HSC and year 12). I took every “what is your spiritual gift?” test that was available. I started reading into things in everyday life that I took to be signs from God.
(Example: I’ve been feeling lately like I’d like to be a singer and a songwriter. There’s a story in my favourite magazine about how to write songs this month. That must be what God wants me to do.)
I felt so much pressure to do what I perceived to be God’s will because it seemed like if I made one wrong move, that would ruin all the good things God could give me. My life was a constant struggle trying to walk a tightrope (that I called “God’s plan”) whilst blindfolded. It was up to me to get it right.
At the end of that year, I was to go on a beach mission team for the second time. It was, by far, the highlight of my year. A little way into the year, I startled feeling like I shouldn’t go on mission. Despite the fact that the team was struggling for numbers, I persisted with the idea (inside my head, for then) that God was telling me not to go. I loved mission, and I couldn’t understand why God would want to take that away from me. Still, I was scared to death that if I didn’t do what he’d asked, it would be chaos.
After a while, I had a dream one night. I was in church and my pastor was preaching. When I woke up, I couldn’t remember much, but one word stuck with me: Jonah.
I went to my Bible and read the story of Jonah. Jonah disobeys God and catches a boat to Ninevah. As a result, a big storm threatens to sink the boat until Jonah is thrown overboard. After that, I was convinced that God was telling me that I needed to quit the beach mission team, or the whole thing would go down. If I didn’t do what God asked, I would ruin his perfect plan. And not just for me, but for the whole team.
I wrote to my team leaders explaining to them the whole thing and why I wouldn’t be coming on team.
Thankfully, I was blessed with very wise and godly team leaders. They wrote back to me explaining that it would be within God’s will whether I went on mission or not. They told me that God’s will is not so specific that we humans can ruin it with one bad decision. They also said that they still needed people to come on team, but they didn’t need me. They said that it was dangerous to think that the world revolved around me (those were the exact words, no kidding).
Their words cut right through me and left a sting. But they were right. I was stupid for thinking that my actions could make or break the success of something God was doing.
More recently, I have fallen into the same trap of thinking that God needs me to work in the life of my boyfriend. We have both changed a lot in positive ways since we started this relationship, which led me to believe (once more) that his success as a Christian was dependant on how much I was praying for him and encouraging him, and whether we were together at all. When we broke up for a day, God really challenged me to see that he can work without me, and that I should be thankful that he has chosen to use me.
Now I see that God does not need me for anything. I am not irreplaceable and the success of God’s work on this earth does not depend on me in any way.
What a weak God he would be if his plans could be stopped by us simply refusing to comply!
I am learning that nothing can stop God from bringing about justice and good things.
My salvation is not a result of anything I have done, or failed to do. It’s all about him.