I was reminded of something very important today: “It’s not about you.”
Yes, that’s the first line from the book #The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren and it’s true. We get so caught up in ourselves and what we’re doing and what’s going on around us, we forget about the big picture. We forget about others. We forget about what we’re leaving behind and what happens after we’re gone.
I found out today that the husband of a longtime friend of mine died this morning. I took it hard because I’d known them as a couple for almost 30 years, he was only a few months older than us (her birthday is the day before mine), and because it reminded me life is short. We can plan for the future, for retirement, for that new house, for that new baby, for that new chapter in our lives, but we can’t guarantee we’ll be around to enjoy them because we’re not in control of when our last day will be. In fact, we’re in control of very little in this life.
We’re not in control of when we’re born, where we’re born, who our parents are, or when we die. We are somewhat in control of what happens in between, in so far as we can make choices — where we’ll live when we’re grown, who we’ll marry, what our career will be, etc — and those choices affect not only the direction of our lives but they also affect those in our family and those around us.
I say “somewhat in control of what happens in between” because I am convinced God is ultimately in control. We think we’re the ones in control, but God is directing our steps.
It is the Lord who directs your life, for each step you take is ordained by God to bring you closer to your destiny. So much of your life, then, remains a mystery!Proverbs 20:24 TPT
Lord , I know that none of us are in charge of our own destiny; none of us have control over our own life.Jeremiah 10:23 GNTD
God is the One leading us to make wise choices. He will never lead us to make a poor choice where someone is hurt or harmed, because that goes against His nature.
God is love and love does not choose to deliberately hurt or harm someone.
When we choose according to what our sin nature wants, we tend to be inherently selfish and often hurt or harm ourselves or someone else, even though we may not see it at the time. Those poor choices are against what God is leading us to do, but He still gives us that freedom. The wonderful part about it is He can still bring good out of the bad situation we find ourselves in as a result.
We know that in all things God works for good with those who love him, those whom he has called according to his purpose.Romans 8:28 AMP
I’ll use my own life as an example. Maybe you can see something similar in your own life.
I grew up knowing very little about God. The couple of times I went to Sunday School (of which I remember nothing) with my nextdoor neighbor friend and the few times I picked up the Bible from my Mum’s bookshelf (she had a Bible even though she wasn’t a believer — not sure how or why) for something to read as a kid, were my only exposures to the existence of God. Yet I can look back and see how he pursued me, directing my steps so I would come to know Him and ask Him to be my Savior.
At the age of 20, I yearned to travel. That’s not an unusual thing for New Zealanders, perhaps because the country is isolated from every other country by huge bodies of water. Anyway, I decided I would spend 6 months in Europe and 6 months in England, then I would return to New Zealand. I had no idea how I was supposed to afford all that, but my desire to travel somehow reached my half-sister’s ex-husband who knew a family in California who knew a family in Texas who wanted a nanny. It was through that convoluted route that I took advantage of an opportunity to travel and get paid at the same time, so I sold my car and bed (my only two possessions) and bought a one-way ticket to Dallas.
I wasn’t going where I thought I wanted to go, but I was going where God wanted me to go.
I didn’t think about it very much at the time, but looking back, I know there’s no way that convoluted opportunity could have happened naturally. Only through the working of God, could I make it to a place I knew nothing about and knew no-one, but where I would be exposed to Him more.
The family I nannied for went to church, so naturally I went with them. God was drawing me to Himself, and although I got caught up in the emotionality of it all and got baptized, I didn’t really believe in the truth of the Bible (as God’s infallible Word) or everything in it.
Although I went to church with the family as long as I was nannying for them, but my life did not change. When my stint as a nanny was over I stopped going to church, but God didn’t give up on me.
I continued to make poor choices, choices that hurt me and others, choices that were what I thought I wanted at the time but were definitely not what I needed. Through all of it, God was still tugging at my heart. And I was ignoring that tug. In fact, I was running from it.
Because I thought I was in control and I wanted to stay that way. I wanted to do what I wanted to do and I didn’t want anyone telling me otherwise.
Little did I realize at the time that I was going to end up going full circle and coming right back to the point where I needed God because I didn’t like what I’d done or what I’d become. And, you know what?
God was waiting for me with open arms, just as He is with all of us who have gone our own way.
All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us all.Isaiah 53:6 AMP
It doesn’t matter what we’ve done, what we’ve become, or what’s been done to us, He’s waiting with open arms for us to turn to Him and admit our need for His Son, Jesus, as our Savior. He wants to show us the love and acceptance we all crave and search for, but only He can completely fill that hole in our heart.
When I came to know Him this time, I had no doubts about the truth of His Word or anything in it. A big reason I didn’t is because I needed it to be true. I needed a God who would love the real me, the me without the mask, with all my shortcomings, and despite my sins. I needed a God who would help me despite all the mess I’d got myself in.
I needed a God who loved me unconditionally.
And He did. He loved me, He helped me, He saved me. And my life changed as a result, because this time around, I was filled with His Holy Spirit to help me make wise choices. I was so grateful for His unconditional love, His saving grace, His total acceptance, that I couldn’t help but love Him in return.
But, you know, He didn’t save me just for my sake. No, it’s much bigger than that. He knew that through me, He could bring others to Himself as well. Now my girls and my grandchildren will be Christ followers too (although they don’t see that yet) and the effect of that will continue to ripple out to others. I hope I’m alive to see some of the effects, but I probably won’t see them all because God is able to do way beyond what we can think or even imagine.
Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.Ephesians 3:20 NLT
And so, with the sudden death of my friend’s husband, on the day I turned a year older, I was reminded that life is short and I need to be about the LORD’s business. I need to be doing things that can make an eternal difference in people’s lives because none of us knows how much longer we have on this earth and there’s a whole eternity beyond what we see around us and experience every day.
I have no doubts I’m going to heaven when I die, but I’d like as many people as possible to meet me there.
Where are you going to spend eternity?