The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the LORD; The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps; The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD.
Proverbs 16:1, 9, 33
A lot of changes have happened in my life the past month. I was sitting here tonight and just thinking about how my life at 27 is so different than I ever imagined it would be. I began to reminisce about what my dreams and goals were for 27 vs. the life the Lord prepared for me. I've been sitting here just blown away in how different those two scenarios are, yet how incredible the life God led me to is.
What I dreamed of where I'd be at age 27 was this:
Celebrating my 5th year of marriage to the man of my dreams; proof of my love would be two little kids in tow, maybe a third on the way. We would be living in a cute little house with wonderful neighbors. I would have gotten married right out of college, which means I never would have had a job. I would be a stay at home wife and mom, and just volunteer on the side and "play house." I would be so busy with loving on my family and taking care of my home, that I would probably not have time to do much else amidst the craziness of that. I would love every minute of it though. I wouldn't look back and want another life, because this was the life I always dreamed of.
Say I could go back and re-do the past five years of my life and get the life I had wanted...this is what I would have missed:
- I would have missed working with middle school and high school students through my church. I never would have walked so closely with the same group of girls for 5 years. I wouldn't have gone to south Dallas with our youth on numerous occasions to share the gospel and provide hope to the hopeless. I wouldn't have met with my girls weekly to hear their hearts, get to know their families, pour the gospel into them, provide consistency, a listening ear...I wouldn't have had countless sleepovers, starbucks dates, corner bakery lunches, Bible studies, tear fests, movie nights, Christmas expeditions... I wouldn't have led a trip to Guatemala with our highschool students that forever changed my heart and mind on other cultures and overseas brothers and sisters. I wouldn't have been changed through the lives of these precious sisters of mine; I wouldn't have grown in my love of the Lord and His people in this way. I wouldn't have known what mentorship and discipleship really was. I never would have poured myself out in such a time-consuming, intimate, passionate way. And now I'm an intern in the middle school ministry at my church. I have a job in the very arena I've been blessed to have been such a big part of.
- I would have missed having one of the most difficult and rewarding jobs ever by being a nanny. I wouldn't have watched 3 precious children grow up over a 5 year period. I wouldn't have learned what it meant to love in a self-sacricial, gospel-saturated way. I wouldn't have experienced boldly living and speaking the gospel daily around a family who didn't love and know Jesus Christ. I wouldn't have faced days and nights of tears full of pain, frustration, confusion, desperation- all because I wanted them to know Christ so deeply. I wouldn't have learned how to daily love children in the love of Christ. I wouldn't have been able to confess and ask forgiveness to little kids when I sinned against them. I wouldn't have been humbled on many occasions when I was entirely wrong about a situation, yet but covered in the grace of Christ. I wouldn't have learned a ridiculous amount of irreplaceable knowledge and experience in loving people who were so different from me. I wouldn't have known how to serve someone without expecting recognition. I never would have been able to be a light in a dark world in this way...
- I would have missed learning to yearn for Christ in deep, unfathomable ways. Singleness isn't easy. Having an unquenched deep desire to be a wife and a mother has pressed me into the sovereign, loving arms of the Almighty in ways I never would have experienced had I gotten married at the age I wanted to. I never would have experienced the nights upon nights of crying out to God in fear, doubt, confusion, pain, and loneliness. I never would have known what it meant to rest in contentment and joy, despite a continual "no" of what I desired so strongly. I never would have fallen so ardently, desperately, and passionately in love with Jesus Christ as my all-fulfilling, all-satisfying, all-knowing Savior. I wouldn't know what it meant to lay in bed alone at night and feel His arms wrap around me in comfort and understanding. I wouldn't have the same love for truth and Scripture and knowledge. I wouldn't know God as my Father and provider in the deep way that I do today.
- I would have missed all the freedom and opportunities in being with my family, randomly driving out to my parents house, closely watching my nieces and nephew grow up. I would have missed being able to use my solitary salary to give financially to my family, to come up with fun nice gifts for my family, to spend holidays with my parents, to love on my parents in a different way than my brothers because they're both married. I would have missed so many opportunities to love on and bond with my family because I would have had my own families' responsibilities.
I could go on and on. All that to say, in hindsight, it is so so clear that His ways are higher than mine. We are placed on this earth to be His representatives, to make Him known. This life isn't about Rebekah Nicewander, but about Jesus Christ. Before time began, my life was written. Every single day of my life is known and authored by Almighty God. He has written my life according to His plan in bringing Himself the most glory. Although I cannot see the big picture, I know that each day is a moment to bring glory to God. I have been able to love and serve in ways I never imagined I could. I have been stretched and sanctified, challenged and disciplined through these past 5 years in ways I never dreamed. I've experienced joy, contentment, peace, and satisfaction in knowing Christ in ways I didn't know were possible. God has closed doors I longed for to open ones that have led to greater fulfillment. I've learned to place my identity and security in Christ as He's provided for me and Shepherded me amidst His will. He has me where He has me because, right now, that brings Him the most glory. This life isn't about God being our means to an end, but He is our end. WE GET GOD, and He is enough.
Whether single or married, male or female, young or old, black or white, barren or quiverful- if you are a child of God, you are here for Him. You have Jesus Christ and the gospel in common with every other believer around you. Live in it. Walk in it. Place your identity in Him; not in your relational status, not in your job, not in your mark on society, not in your sex; in Him. I yearn to follow Him in such a way that I can say these words confidently:
But I trust in You, O LORD;
I say, "You are my God." My times are in your hands.