02 May “When I’m Unsure of What Lies Ahead” from Jennie Allen
This week’s post is being shared from JennieAllen.com. Jennie is an author, speaker, and teacher whose ministry is geared toward women, but this post is important for everyone. If you’d like to check out her ministry, head over to her website, jennieallen.com.
“Today I started a scrapbook,” Alex told me excitedly as we sat talking on the phone about God and the future. She had a lot of future ahead. Alex was 19 and a sophomore at the University of Texas. Her blonde ringlets must have bounced as she talked, and I imagined her having an expression and posture similar to a five-year-old asking her mom for a Popsicle.
She went on, “I started a scrapbook today describing all I hope for, so I can picture it. I just started cutting out the things that I want: a white, two-story house; a black Volvo SUV; even a cute husband and a number of cute kids.”
I sat speechless, trying not to laugh. I knew this was a girl who adored God and sincerely knew him. And while I had never known anyone to be so bold as to build an actual scrapbook, I thought to myself, I have one of those. We all have one.
We all have the pictures of our lives in our minds, how they “should be,” how we hope they will be—how we picture them. We collect these pictures in powerful scrapbooks that exist in our heads. We plan it all out:
When we will be married; how many kids we will have; where we will live; how much money we will make; what our jobs will be; what our houses will look like; how our husbands will treat us; the places we will travel; who our friends will be; how our kids will behave; how close our grandkids should live; when we will retire; and what our ministries will be like.
At some point, we realize it doesn’t work that way. We can’t control the actual scrapbooks—the ones reflecting the past rather than the future. But we still long to try to control our lives and to build them to match the pictures of the lives we want.
And letting go? The idea that we would actually hand it all over to God and say,
“Go. Build it. Do whatever you want with all I have” . . . it is terrifying.
What if God has planned any of these as part of the story?
Singleness…struggle…adoption…a difficult spouse…infertility…moving from the town we love…an apartment instead of a house…cancer…disapproval…death…dangerous overseas missions…financial hardship?
So we pursue our scrapbook dreams, distracted, too busy to see he’s already with us and has our steps planned. The days and pictures and people he puts in our scrapbooks are seemingly chaotic but perfectly planned.
If we believe the Bible, we must believe that the heart of our unpredictable, sovereign God is good, that he sees us and is for us.
We seize more of God when he seizes us through our broken dreams. He is wildly unpredictable, and learning to question and accept his ways is part of the journey of following an unsafe, invisible God. He calls the shots on what happens to us in this short stint here. He calls them, whether we want to let him or not. Our faith must remain greater than our pain and our fears.