Saturday, July 20, 2013

Reflections on a season

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.
- Ecclesiastes 2:1 (NIV) 

I love lazy weekend days. I spent probably two hours this afternoon, sitting on my sister's back porch. A little conversation, a little napping, and a little thinking. And I thought back some 30 a time when I could not see the path.

I spent most of my time in college thinking that God was calling me to YoungLife staff. I don't think I was wrong, I just think the calling was for a short time so he could teach me some things about myself.

What I learned was that I could serve the Lord without ministry being the source of my paycheck. That God was mostly concerned about developing my character and drawing me close to him, regardless of how I would make a living. I just needed to love him and stay close to him. Thus began a six-year period that you could call drifting.

You could...but you would be wrong. It was a season where God was teaching me exactly what I needed to know to live the life he had for me.

I spent some time on YoungLife student staff, helping the ministry through some difficult times. I felt the pull in another direction, toward teaching. So I spent almost two years going back to school for another degree. This was when I shared a trailer with the person who would become my lifelong friend - really more like a brother. I learned to be content with very little. I then went to teach middle school, and spent three years learning so much about myself - including the fact that I do have a temper that I need God to control.

And then the biggest lesson of all. I know God wanted me there for those three years, but I also was learning that it was not for me long term. So I resigned my position in February, effective at the end of the school year. My mom thought I was crazy. My friends thought I was crazy. Everybody asked, "What are you going to do? Do you have a plan? How can you just quit your job without a plan?"

To make a very long story short, a series of circumstances led me to an interview with Alfa about a profession that I had never heard of. And voila, a few months later I was an actuary-in-training. The rest is history. I cannot imagine another path for my life that would have been more fulfilling and more glorifying to God than where I ended up. I have the friends I have, I live where I live, I have served God where I have served him, all because of that one path.

Here's the thing: it took a long time to feel settled. I spent the years between 21 and 27 with no idea of a clear path for my life. I had not even heard the word actuary (that I remember) and yet it was God's plan for me. I was confused and frustrated more times than you can imagine. And I think my parents were even more so.

As I read Scripture, I see that my path is not so unusual:

  • Moses was a young man with a promising future in Egypt until he killed a man who was threatening his kinsman. He waited another 50 years or so before God appeared to him in the burning bush and revealed his purpose.
  • God chose David to be king as a boy, but he labored through years of serving under a paranoid king who would try to kill him before ultimately becoming what God intended.
  • Joseph was destined to be the second-in-command of Egypt and save his family from famine. But before he got there, he was sold into slavery by his brothers, falsely accused of sexual assault, and thrown into prison. Years and years before he ended up in the spot God was preparing him for.
I could go on and on. Peter. Paul. Jacob. Even Jesus - God in the flesh - was living at home working with his father as a carpenter until he was 30.

God is a patient God. I am so glad he knows better than us.

And so I look back. And I know that while I was wandering in my own personal wilderness, God had something great for me. Friends. Family. Career. Ministry. All in front of me if I would just trust him.

I know it's not over. I know as I'm writing this that I might sound like some old man on his deathbed. I don't know, but I'm not planning on it. What I do know is that God leads us day by day, not by showing us a roadmap. And I'm grateful.

I can't wait for tomorrow!


  1. Well said Donnie. So thankful to call you friend and to see what God has done in and through you these past 3 years. You are an encouragement! Elissa

  2. Boy did I need this one today! Thank you, Donnie, for another well-written, thought provoking message!