At the start of 2015, when I was sat in a prayer room, the Lord sent me a picture. That picture was of a compass. It was something that really resonated with me, and it’s a picture that will always stay with me (I mean that quite literally; it’s tattooed on my back). I interpreted it as meaning that whatever direction God sends me in, and wherever I end up, God has got me and will be with me guiding the way.
Recently, I’ve found myself reflecting on this image and its message again. As I’ve just turned 19 and I look behind at the year just gone, I see just how much God has challenged me and how often he’s sent me in directions that I didn’t expect to be sent in. Essentially, I’ve seen just how vital this idea of the compass and God showing me the way has been.
From that point on, I stopped trying to plan things. I just prayed that God would give me clarity of His plan for me, and I just let life wash over me. When I started uni, I began to see the ways in which God has placed me exactly where I needed to be, and saw all the reasons why things had gone the way they had. Then more disappointments came along. Friendships didn’t develop the way I thought they would; situations did not play out in the way I was hoping they would- in fact they played out in a way worse than I imagined and in a way that I let myself get rather hurt by. I didn’t get on the modules I wanted. Again, I found myself getting frustrated. I couldn’t see what it was I was meant to be doing, and what on Earth it was that God was trying to teach me through all this. However, as I started to pray more, and actually ask- I started to hear. Truth be told, I have heard more from God in this last year than I have in my whole life. A lot of the things he has spoken to me about are through my disappointments. It’s so important for us to remember that God is still with us, even when things don’t go our way. It’s also important to remember that actually, we shouldn’t want things to go our way- we should want them to go God’s way.
That’s a big claim to make, and it’s definitely easier said than done. It’s so hard to surrender our plans over to God and say, “if this isn’t what you want, Lord, show me the way you want me to go.” I can’t say that I’ve been able to do that just yet. When you’re someone like me, with a highly overactive imagination, and a tendency to freak out if you don’t have clear ideas of what is happening; you like to have your whole life planned out. In fact, you’ll have multiple scenarios that have all played out in your head like a film a million times, all detailing different possibilities of where life can take you. However, sometimes God doesn’t want to send us down any of those paths. Instead, he’ll say ‘nah, mate’ and send you in a completely different direction to the one you were expecting. Considering how many times he’s done that to me in the last year, you think I’d have learnt to stop trying to do things my way; but it’s in our human nature to plan, and I haven’t quite learnt to let go completely just yet.
What I have learnt though, is that God’s plans are always good, and they are always what is best for us. If he shuts doors in your face, He is doing so because He doesn’t want you to go there when you could go somewhere so much better, where you can do so much more for His glory. God won’t always give you a clear plan of where he’s sending you, and one of the biggest things we can learn is that that’s okay. We don’t need to know where we’re going- we just need to trust that God is going to be with us; wherever we go and wherever we eventually end up. Earlier this year, I studied the story of Joseph in the book of Genesis. Joseph is a really good story to turn to actually, especially when you feel like God isn’t working in your favour. It took 22 years for God’s promises to Joseph to come to fruition, but in the end they all did. It wasn’t an easy journey; I mean, Joseph spent the majority of it in prison for goodness’ sake… He never lost faith though, and neither should we. “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Gen 50:20. Another good example of holding faith through disappointments is Job. Oh man… Job really did get put through it all. Every disappointment that life has handed me is a walk in the park compared to the hands that Job was dealt. Again though, this is an example of someone who through everything, turns back to God. God is with us through every disappointment, and we can’t afford to forget that.
God’s plan is bigger than we can ever imagine, and when life sends us disappointments; we can’t look at them as setbacks, rather as diversions. We’re not going the wrong way; we’re just going a different one. And that’s okay, because if that’s the way that God wants to send us, we have to trust that it’s best, even when we can’t see the road ahead. It’s okay to feel disappointed, and it’s okay to feel hurt by things not going the way we planned; but never forget that God is there with us, even when we’re hurting, and he’s preparing you for something much bigger and better than we could ever plan.
But he knows where I am going;
And when he tests me I will come out as pure as gold. - Job 23:10