I used to think when God wanted me to do something, I couldn’t be stopped. I believed he would open doors, connect me with the right people, and pave the way for my success.
But I also believed I didn’t stand a chance if God and I weren’t on the same page. Regardless of what I did, that square peg wasn’t going through that round hole.
For that reason, I’ve always tried to be sure I was on the path God wanted me to be on. But too often, I faced more failure than success. And when things didn't go so well, I responded by:
1. Getting angry with God.
2. Doing things my way until he decided to show up and fix the mess I had made.
That was like throwing gas on the proverbial fire. I kept doing everything my way only to watch it fall apart over and over.
One such example happened early in my life. When I graduated college, I had a shot at a job with a large investment firm. I prayed about it and told God that if he wanted me to have the job, then I wanted it too. I also told him to give it to someone else if they needed it more than I did, or if it was the wrong situation for me. Either way, I was willing to accept his decision.
I got the job.
And I was thrilled. Up to that point, I had no idea what I was going to do with my life and getting that job was the break I needed. Besides, God must have wanted me there because he answered my prayer, right?
But, things didn’t go well at all. After three years of dealing with the ugliness of Corporate America, and with my confidence in shreds, I was looking for work elsewhere.
My departure from that job was bittersweet. On one hand, I was disappointed to reach a dead end so early into my career. On the other, it was good riddance because I hated working there.
I'm no quitter.
But, I was certain that God wanted me to be a financial advisor, and my conviction fueled determination. I found a job with another investment firm and stayed in that line of work for several years. Anytime I started doubting, I thought back to that initial prayer and that was enough to keep me going.
But I struggled for more than a decade to be successful in the financial industry. I finally gave up and took the path of least resistance, letting the chips fall where they may.
God wouldn’t let me be successful!
Guess what happened? It was still hard. Things still didn't look like I thought they would. I still wasn’t making the money I wanted to make and I still wasn’t happy.
And of course, I let God know about it. I felt that regardless of what I did, I was going to fail. It felt like God was telling me, “I’m not going to make it easy on you, but I’m not going to let you be successful, either.”
But I misunderstood what God was doing.
This happens to us all the time. We get frustrated when things get difficult and start to wonder if God has hung us out to dry. I made the mistake of thinking God was going to make it easy for me.
Being on the path God wants you on doesn’t mean it will be easy at all, or that it will be obvious when he's helping you. In fact, it may be harder than anything else you have done in your life.
If I’m honest—and that’s what I am here—I wasn’t prepared for Corporate America. I was a kid with no business experience and didn’t know what I was in for. But what I learned in that first job, and even the next one, helped me for years to come.
Another mistake I made was failing to stay in touch with God along the way. If things were going well, I put him on the back burner and stopped asking for direction. Eventually, I couldn’t hear from him anymore. That’s when I got off the right path and onto the wrong one.
You still have to do the work.
Then there are times when you get help in ways you don’t expect. As an example, if you’re in debt, wouldn’t it be easier for someone to give you the money to pay it off? Instead, what if they decided to co-sign for a loan that you had to pay back? They would be helping you, but it would also mean you have to do some work.
That’s what God does. He shows up to help us fix our mess, but we still have to do the work. Sometimes—only by his grace—he fixes it for us anyway.
We can’t think like God because we aren’t capable, and God doesn’t think like us. But sometimes we believe we’re as smart as he is. That isn’t fair to him because that’s like saying your dog is as smart as you are. There’s no way your dog can wrap her mind around the things of this world, like the harm of wandering out into the road and getting hit by a car. If she did, you wouldn’t have to put a fence up to keep that from happening. But don’t you think there are times your dog feels caged in?
God is teaching us how to live life his way. That rarely lines up with our agenda. Sometimes, we just have to trust he’s watching out for us. If you’re like I used to be and need to make sense of it all, you have a long road ahead.
Even if it’s the right one.