One thing I look forward to at the start of every year is writing in my new planner.
It’s satisfying to fill out its blank pages with all my different plans and to-do lists – being able to see what’s ahead of me all clearly laid out just gives me great peace of mind.
But ever since I left the student life behind, I’ve found myself writing in my planner less and less. Days seem to merge together, and there’s far less clarity on what lies ahead. Somedays I feel like I’m wandering across a desert plain aimlessly.
I expected adulthood to be exciting, but life post-graduation is just turning out to be plain exhausting. Instead of passionately pursuing my dreams, I’m caught up with job hunting, paying back student loans and taking care of ageing parents.
Part of me hoped that 2020 would finally be a year of clarity. I wanted to see, with 20/20 vision, what God’s direction and purpose for my life are. Then I could finally leave this desert wilderness.
But as I daydreamed about the possibilities of a better and clearer year ahead, my thoughts led me to look back on my life’s journey so far. 10 years ago, 15-year-old Justine didn’t know where she was going – yet things turned out okay.
So, if 15-year-old me turned out fine, why am I so bent on having clarity for my future now? Maybe foresight isn’t the kind of clarity I need.
10 years ago, I didn’t even know God.
Looking at the kind of person I was then, it’s only by God’s grace that someone like 15-year-old me could be in the position I am today. There were so many potholes I could have fallen into that would’ve led me to lose sight of God completely.
For instance, I only set foot in my current church because a volunteer I served with at TOUCH Young Arrows (TYA) had invited me for a Christmas service. I could have simply rejected her offer. But I accepted it because God led me to see His love through the TYA volunteers’ sincerity.
Even the way I ended up volunteering in TYA was a miracle on its own. My secondary school required us to fulfil a certain number of hours of community service.
I obsessed over finding a destination I saw as God’s destiny for me.
I could have easily chosen from the list of organisations they recommended and volunteer with my friends, but for some reason, I went out of my way to search for an organisation on my own.
I found TYA by googling “volunteering with children” and TYA’s annual fundraising homepage was the first result. If I Google the same key words now, TYA doesn’t show up at all. That result only came up because my query coincided with their fundraiser at the time.
When I consider these things, I can’t deny that God’s hand was moving in my life the whole time. He made everything line up at the right time and place for His purposes to be carried out. I’m really thankful for it. For without Him, I wouldn’t have been able to move into a deeper love and knowledge of God.
I’m still a volunteer to this day, seven years after that Google search, even though I could have easily stopped going once my required hours were fulfilled.
Additionally, how I managed to stay in church all these years is something I still don’t understand.
Volunteering required me to sacrifice my Saturdays, while going to church took up my Sundays. At the prime of my youth, instead of using the weekend to go out with friends, catch up on sleep or complete assignments – I was serving and at service.
My parents also had their own reservations about churches. But despite the difficulties and opposition, God was good and He remains good.
The people and places God led me to were all uniquely shaped to speak to me in the seasons I was in.
If my 15-year-old self had seen this path I have walked over the last 10 years – every decision and milestone clearly laid before her – I don’t think she would have make the same choices. She would have probably forged a path of her own in the opposite direction.
The people and places God led me to were all uniquely shaped to speak to me in the seasons I was in. I didn’t have “clarity” then, but in hindsight – I don’t need clarity when I have God.
15-year-old Justine didn’t have clarity about where she was supposed to go and where she would end up. She didn’t know she would end up taking literature in university. She didn’t know that she would end up going to Bible school.
She didn’t know how she would cope with her mum’s disease, and she also didn’t know that one day she would be so consumed by a God who loves her deeply.
Ever since graduating, I had this expectation that if I faithfully waited and listened out for God, He would give me a set of instructions to follow and that’s it – I would find my job.
I obsessed over finding a destination I saw as God’s destiny for me. As if it were some magical place that would make me feel fulfilled and full of purpose.
The result was that my pursuit of purpose had led me to lose sight of the Person. Focusing on this end-point blocked out my vision of God in the present, where my plans and my idea of God’s plans for my life affected my intimacy with God.
I’d rather be chilling next to Jesus in a boat through a storm than at the harbour without Him.
During their journey through the wilderness, the Israelites followed the pillar of cloud and fire. They didn’t rely on their own plans to take them where they needed to go. They didn’t need this “clarity” because they simply had God’s presence with them amidst the uncertainty.
I want to be like that. So as I’ve begun devoting more time to the things of God, and simply sitting at His feet, I’ve received a different kind of clarity. It’s a clarity in my heart about God’s character, and how He will be faithful to carry me through life.
Knowing this, I’d rather be chilling next to Jesus in a boat through a storm than at the harbour without Him. That’s why my prayer for 2020 is to have a clearer vision of God in my life, even if I don’t have a clear vision of my future.
God had me in His hands throughout and He has never faltered all these years. I can rest assured and trust that God will continue to lead me perfectly in the wilderness.
THINK + TALK
- What’s your 2020 vision?
- What has God spoken to you about it? What might He want you to do this year?
- How will you align yourself with God’s plan and purpose for your life?