“No, God? No, God [I] won’t take what You give. No, God, Your plans are a gutted, bleeding mess and I didn’t sign up for this and You really thought I’d go for this? No, God, this is ugly and this is a mess and can’t You get anything right and just haul all this pain out of here and I’ll take it from here, thanks. And God? Thanks for nothing.”
-One Thousand Gifts, Ann Voskamp
Something awful has come to my attention. Over the past few minutes, I’ve realized that the above excerpt describes my heart’s condition. I don’t want to start pointing fingers, but I’m fairly confident at some point you’ve probably had similar feelings. When we can’t see the bigger pictures, it’s easy to get ahead of ourselves and think that life would be easier if we could just take matters in our own hands. Recently, I’ve found myself thinking, “God, if you really cared about me, you would have opened doors to my future already. Why is it that I’m still in the dark of this great plan you have for my life? I could write my own story better than you.”
Really? Could I really write my own story better than Him? Let’s take a look. If I had written my own story, I would be in Colorado right now, working 9-5 as a copywriter, alone and on the wrong trajectory careerwise. But because God closed the doors to my “dreams”, I was forced to surrender my own desires to the Lord, and through it all, He blessed me. He blessed me with a wonderful experience in Liberia, quality time with my family, rest for my Spirit and even a nice man. (Oh, and maybe a job.) Looking back on the last two months, I can confidently say that I’m grateful that I’m not the author of my own life.
Then why am I still so eager at times to control my future? If I’m honest with myself, I believe the root of this issue is ingratitude.
Through reading One Thousand Gifts, I’ve gained a deeper perspective on the problem of ingratitude. The author clearly describes that the sin of ingratitude was not only the first sin of humanity, but also the catalyst of most of our sins. Humans are constantly lured by the deception that there is something greater, something more fulfilling than anything God could offer. Once we eat of the fruit of the world, we are filled momentarily, only to feel empty again. We’re never satisfied.
This throws us into an ugly cycle. We continue to relive the garden scene. Day after day, we convince ourselves that God isn’t good, and He surely doesn’t give two cents about us. Ultimately, we are looking for food in a world that is starved.
I once heard someone say that “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’re always going to get what you’ve always got.” In my case, if I had continued to search for satisfaction in a job or location, I would have always come up empty because that’s not God’s intent for our satisfaction.
Then what’s the truth?
The truth is that our sole satisfaction rests in our communion with God. He has a brilliant, mysterious and beautiful plan for each of us. He calls us Beloved. He has a specific, intentional purpose that includes renaming us and returning us to our FULL GLORY. We are reminded of this purpose in 1 Corinthians 2:7 “His secret purpose framed from the very beginning is to bring us to or full glory.”
If I claim to believe the Word of God, I must stop acting like I’m unworthy of God’s affection and care. Most of the time, in our limited knowledge and wisdom, it’s easy to want to write our own stories differently. There’s a reason that I’m not the author of my story and that God is. He sets the scene, designs the plot, understands the final chapter and knows the meaning behind it all.
I don’t. You don’t.
I guess what I’m trying to say through all this mess, is that my prayer for myself and for each one of you is to open the places of our hearts to endlessly seek and crave the only fulfilling thing in life–God. The journey of replacing sorrow for joy and choosing to trust instead of control is difficult and will include some failures along the way. Rest assured that God cares and that His grace is big enough for your daily failures.
Through it all, I know that trading in selfishness for God-communion will lead to a fuller and wildly exciting life. I dare you to join me on the journey of choosing gratitude for resentment.