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For You have been a shelter for me, a strong tower from the enemy.
~Psalm 61:3 NIV~
Sometimes it feels like life is just a series of almost made its. The worst of them being when you’ve spent years working toward a goal only to be derailed by the actions of another person or circumstance that you didn’t anticipate. Whatever the situation may be, when we find ourselves looking backward more often than we look forward then it is not only time for a definite shift in perspective, but a shift in our course of action. It could be that the path God wants us to take looks nothing like the one we’ve been traveling.
When I was younger, my plan was actually to go into the military. Those who know me now would hardly believe that I’d ever considered a career in the Navy all those years ago. Truthfully, I’ve changed so much that I had almost forgotten about it myself. But all those years ago, being led by only my own hopes and dreams, I had chosen to do what would carry me the farthest away from what hadn’t been working in my life. I thought that leaving home would somehow fix all of what had been wrong and that I’d somehow step into another dimension where my life would be easy and perfect; into a life where I wouldn’t have to hurt anymore. Looking back, I can see how wrong my thinking had been. I had initially been told that I would be accepted into an Officer Training Program when I went for my military physical, but after it was all said and done the recruiters had taken that offer off of the table and replaced it with an offer to go in as an enlisted person. Of course, this hadn’t been what I wanted at the time, so I just scrapped the whole plan.
My last two years of high school had been spent preparing to go into the military and when it didn’t happen, I was lost. I had no plan and worse yet, I hadn’t taken any time to prepare for the kind of battles that were coming my way. In the years that followed, I struggled to find direction. I was decidedly out of church and so, I wasn’t even thinking about listening for God’s input on what I should do. I felt like I was just drifting about on a very choppy ocean of fear, pain and nothingness. I had no relationships; all of my friends had moved away and without God in my life, I was so completely alone that I didn’t know what to do with myself. And at seventeen, it was all probably even more dramatic and devastating than it would have been at another point in my life. Thankfully, those days are behind me. But even more thankfully, I haven’t forgotten what I went through and why it was so important for me to go through it.
It almost seems like someone else’s life when I look back and remember all of the time and energy I put into getting into the mindset of someone who wanted to live a life in the military. But then, having gone through many more life experiences since, I can also say that it seems like a whole other lifetime ago that I was hopelessly addicted to alcohol and sinking deeper and deeper into a pit of despair that I had jumped into quite willingly. And yet another lifetime ago since I was married and living a very different life than the one I am now living. The only common thread in all of my past lives was the overwhelming emptiness created by my unwillingness to include God in any of my plans.
Today, even when I don’t know what direction I’m heading in, I don’t feel the same hopelessness and dread that I felt when I was keeping myself from Him. Even in all of my confusion as I face the unknown of each day, I have a steadfast confidence in the fact that He who began a good work in me will see it through until my Savior comes to take me home. I have hope because I know that He has a purpose for me and that as long as I’m still breathing and still on this earth, it is His wish that I will be working toward understanding how my past has prepared me for the future He has already written for me. So, even though I have gone through times where I was sure I’d completely missed the opportunities that were meant for me, I now understand that every part of it has meaning and value in His great plan.
And David said to his son Solomon, “Be strong and of good courage, and do it; do not fear nor be dismayed, for the Lord God—my God—will be with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you, until you have finished all the work for the service of the house of the Lord.
~1 Chronicles 28:20 NIV~