Freedom in surrender

I’m gonna be honest with you guys (hey, I always try to be honest with you).

I’ve never had such a complete and utter blank in front of me as I do right now. Many of my friends can relate to this, as they have finished or are about to finish their degrees, and not quite knowing which step to take next is normal.

The thing is, though, I had a plan. I thought I knew what I was going to do. And now, I don’t.

If you’re wondering what the Plan was, I had applied with the British Council to teach English in Germany for a year.

But now, after a change in personal circumstances, an email from the Council telling me I will have to wait yet another month to find out which region I’m going to be in, and some serious consideration, this option suddenly doesn’t look so appealing any more.

So much less appealing, in fact, that today I emailed the organisation to cancel the application. I’m hoping they won’t come down on me like a ton of bricks for messing them around, but I’d rather give someone else a chance to go who really wants it.

As a dear friend often says, ‘oh, life’.

But like all things, there are lessons to be learnt in this.

For one thing, I’m realising that I was trying to control my own life. Inherently a little stubborn and bull-headed, I refused to consider any other option. I thought, ‘this is what I want to do, because it will put me where I want to be and with or near the people I want to be with.’ I wanted to do things my way and I believed that because I wanted certain things, God would allow them to happen.

Haha. No, doesn’t exactly work like that.

My desire to go to Germany was not wrong. But to say that my motivations were entirely pure (as in, I truly wanted to teach English for a year), would be a lie. I don’t think my motivations were bad, but it’s only now that God has closed a door on one of them that I can see how much it was influencing my decision making.

I believe it is perfectly ok to be in what a wise person at church told me yesterday: ‘a transition period’. I don’t have a problem with waiting for my dreams to come to fruition – those dreams are big, and too scary to handle right now, anyway. But God pointed out to me the folly of doing something my heart wasn’t in, for the sake of other aspects of my life. I am glad to see clearly now. I am not called to be a teacher. So why waste my own time? If I have to wait years until my dreams take off, I may as well use them productively.

Let me just tell you that obedience to God can be extremely difficult. Sometimes, it can look like God doesn’t want you to be happy. At first when things started coming to a head, that’s how I felt. I was angry. I thought, ‘God, why do things have to be this way? Why are you making me give up my dreams?’ I felt like God was taking away the things I cared about.

But that’s not true.

God didn’t crush my dreams. He saved me from a path that was less than what He wants for me. My God, my Father, wants me to experience a life that is abundant and fulfilling. So I trust that His asking me to make some hard choices is going to pay off massively.

I’m not asking anyone to congratulate me for being obedient to God. The fact is, I wasn’t obedient straight away, ignoring His quiet voice, telling myself everything was ok. Truthfully, it made me very anxious and really quite unhappy. I accept that these are the consequences of not listening to a God who knows much better than I do.

But God is big and merciful to an extent that makes me cry. He is gentle and He is mighty, able to take me from where I’ve been to something far better.

I have absolutely no idea what my next ‘adventure’ is going to look like. But instead of feeling dread and anxiety, I feel a huge sense of freedom and lightness that I have not felt for many months. In the midst of some pain and uncertainty, I feel excitement, knowing that there are all these options before me and I could end up anywhere doing anything. I am not going to limit God any more.

It might look like there is freedom in doing whatever you want, but in reality, true freedom is found only in surrender to God’s purposes. The words of a famous hymn come to mind: ‘For it’s only in your will that I am free.’

So there you are, friends. Here I am admitting that I’ve been a bit stupid, so that I can testify to God’s goodness. There is a hope in Christ that does not disappoint.