Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Closed Doors

Sometimes I forget that God has a plan for me. And that what I want isn’t necessarily part of that special plan.

This happens a lot. And half of the time, I find myself pursuing what I want, instead of waiting on God.

Last week, I was out job hunting with my mom. I was looking for a part-time job close by, a 10-minute or less drive from my house. I knew exactly where I wanted to work, which was a movie theater close to my house. For the past four months I’d go and see a movie, and I would try to picture myself working there.

Wednesday, on the way to the theater to go apply, my mom told me this: “Remember, if this job doesn’t work out, there is a reason. This might not be the job God has planned for you right now.”

Of course, I thought it was the job I was supposed to have. I had my resume perfected, including a letter of recommendation and a cover letter.

I went in, nervous because it was my first time applying for a job, and walked up to the front desk. I asked to see the manager, and was immediately told they weren’t hiring. They weren’t even accepting applications until late June, and by the time they hired anyone, it would be August. The chances of me getting hired were 100 to 1.

I walked back to the car where my mom was waiting, and I shook my head. The ride home was quiet. We pulled into the driveway to our house, and sat there for a minute. My mom reminded me that there was a reason I didn’t get that job, and that there was something better out there for me.

Still, I was extremely disappointed. We went inside, I went to my room to start some homework, and then my mom called me into the living room. She was sitting on the couch with a laptop, and she turned the computer towards me. On the screen was a site for a newly opened restaurant in my area. Scrolling down the page, I happened to come across their Mission Statement:

“Our vision is to glorify God by positively impacting the world we live in.”

You could say a light bulb flashed in my head. That’s my life mission statement!

I called the restaurant and found out they were still hiring. I quickly rewrote my cover letter, and 15 minutes later, my mom, my sister and I were on our way there.

When we got there, I walked into the restaurant, up to the front register, and asked to see a manager. The manager came and introduced himself, and I told him that I heard they were hiring and I was wondering if I could fill out a job application. He gave me an application, and I sat down in a booth and filled it out. After I turned in my application and resume, my mom and my sister came in, and we all ate dinner together.

Ten minutes later, the manager told me that he had looked over my application and resume, and they would really like it if I became part of the team. I thanked him, shook his hand, and half-walked, half-skipped back to our table.

While my mom was proud of me, she also reminded me of this: Just an hour before, I was upset, thinking that there was no way for me to get a job.

Life lesson learned. By trusting that God had a better plan, I ended up getting a job at a restaurant that has the same mission in life that I do.

Jeremiah 29:11
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “Plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Friday, April 6, 2012

How Then Shall I Live

Today is Good Friday.

In my church where I grew up, on Good Friday there is an evening service. It was a somber, dark service. After it was through, everyone would leave the darkened sanctuary and exit silently.

Three days later, on Sunday, we’d all return in our bright dresses and Easter hats, with trumpets playing and the Easter garden full of lilies in the front of the sanctuary.

Now, as a young adult, I woke up today, contemplating Good Friday and what it means. It’s the day that Jesus was betrayed, beaten, humiliated, and crucified.

Those of us who know the story know that this was not how it ended. But as a child, the focus was so much on the victory that came with His resurrection, that His death and the despair of Good Friday often got lost in the midst of preparing for the celebration of things.

Knowing that He suffered and died, so that I wouldn’t have to die for my sin, really contemplating what He did for me, I find myself asking one question:

How then shall I live?

If I were to focus daily on his sacrifice, the outcome would look like:

• Daily joy rather than regret, knowing that I have been fully forgiven. This means instead of living in the past and feeling shame for what I’ve done wrong, I live free and joyfully in the present.

Forgiving people who have hurt me, knowing that my perfect Savior forgives me for all my ugly. This means never bringing up another person’s past offenses against me and wiping their slates clean like Jesus did for me.

• Practicing compassion, by regularly putting myself in the other person’s shoes. This means taking the time to figure out their point of view and not making judgments about other people.

Commitment in my relationships, walking with my friends through their good times and their ugly times. This means realizing that not all my friendships are for my benefit all the time, but that sometimes my sole purpose in the friendship is to be there for them.

• Remembering that it is an honor to bear His name and walk everyday with the purpose of bringing glory to Him. The realization that I carry his name and that my actions can lead people to Him or away from Him, should be reflected in how I live.

My debts are paid because of this day. Today I will walk somberly in that knowledge, and like every Easter Sunday before this one, I will join in the celebration of His victory over death.

First Peter 3:18
"For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit."