It’s been a year since I started this blog. The name for this blog came from Deuteronomy 30:19 which says “Today I set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life that you and your children may live.” You can click the link above for a greater explanation of where that verse came from and where my life was at that point. As I reflect on the last year of attempting to choose life, and sometimes failing at it, I am reminded of the lessons I learned to shift my perspective in the first place. In light of those lessons, here is the “testimony” that I gave last year at camp on this topic.
Last night we talked about how even when we love, follow, and obey God, we will receive blessings, and that not all blessings come in the form of a pretty package or a million dollars. When Joseph chose to obey God and run from Potipher’s wife, she lied to her husband about the altercation. And, despite Joseph’s righteousness, he was thrown into prison- no questions asked. Joseph was clearly following God’s lead, but received a blessing that, frankly, sucked. (See Genesis 39)
For me, more often than not, life was pretty good. I went to college at Belmont thinking I wanted to work in the music industry. I quickly realized that God had other plans for me. I found a love for working with college students and the Lord made it clear that I was to go to graduate school and I could not have been more stoked! I have been blessed with the gift of discernment, so it was made very clear to me through the grad school search process I was to go to a school in Texas. I was confident I was seeking and following the Lord. So, you can imagine my surprise when that first year in grad school was one of the toughest years of my life.
It wasn’t that the course work was too difficult, it was actually rather easy for me, that sort of thing had always come naturally. I was surrounded by sin, non-belief and moral relativity. Additionally, my younger brother, Richard had almost died of a sinus infection and had two brain surgeries right around my college graduation and departure for the Lone Star State. He continued to have problems, had a third brain surgery and was hospitalized when he later had a pretty serious seizure. As if that weren’t enough, I struggled to find people with whom I connected on more than just a surface level.
Finally, (yep still not done with the list!), there was a lot of conflict within my cohort and between my cohort and a professor. I tried to handle it in a mature, Biblical fashion, only to have people lie about what I did. That situation resulted in a classmate telling the faculty member that I tried to get him fired, which was not remotely the case. Imagine the awkwardness when we had him again the second semester! Similar situations happened the entire time I was in grad school.
I just didn’t get it! I had gone form being at Belmont where I had been challenged and supported to grow in my faith, all my professors liked me and I got along with just about everyone, even if we weren’t close friends. I just could not understand how God could call me to a place and just leave me there! I found myself growing angry and frustrated with God because He allowed this to happen. I also began to feel like maybe I was wrong abut my calling. Maybe I wasn’t supposed to be doing this after all. Needless to say, I felt pretty lost and directionless.
Then, last summer (2007), God handed me a phenomenal internship at a college in Texas. He surrounded me with encouraging believers and gave me a chance to be refreshed and refocus before my last year in graduate school. God reaffirmed my calling to work with college students and through a new, but good friend, taught me that He did not leave me. He was there all along. My anger was truly about a lack of trust that God truly had me in His grip.
I left that internship and when I returned to school, the only thing that had changed was me.
But, that was enough.
Life still stunk most of the time, but I became more resolved to live a righteous and godly life. Rather than given into the pressures around me, I became more like Joseph and found God gave me the strength to say no. I found strength through reading about the lives of Paul and Joseph. God called them to live in the desert life from their happy peaceful lives. That calling was for a much larger purpose. They never waivered in their trust in God’s purpose and leading in their lives.
I think sometimes God calls us to the desert and to be exiled with no other information than to be still, to love, to follow and to obey.
I know that my time in “exile” strengthened my faith.
That may be it’s only purpose.
It may have also been so I could share this story with you right at this moment.
I know that God will call you to a place of “exile” at some point in your life, if He hasn’t already. His promises to never leave and forsake us are never more true than when we seem alone in the desert place. My prayer for you is that in those moments, you will chose life and love, that you will follow and obey the Lord. He calls us to both mountains and deserts, and when our trust is in Jesus, He has us. Always.
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than we can ever ask or imagine, according to his power at work with in us, to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”