Every day we have opportunities – opportunities to learn, to grow, to step into destiny, to embrace adventure. Yet all too often we shrink back, afraid of where opportunity might take us, of not making the “right” choice, or of failure and disappointment. Life, relationships, choices – I often fear doing the wrong thing. My greatest fear in this is: what if I take an opportunity and then it doesn’t work out somewhere down the road? Does that make it wrong to take the opportunity? Does that put me at fault because I “should have known better”?
I struggle most with these questions when I feel that God is asking me to take an opportunity and then it doesn’t have the results I expect. Did I miss God’s voice? Did I do something wrong? I imagine you can relate to these questions.
The truth, however, is that God doesn’t ask us to know the beginning from the end – that is His job.
My parents told me something that, at the time, I thought was odd: “You don’t know until you know.” What they meant is that sometimes you simply have to take the next step without trying to analyze all the steps that will come after. God asks us to take one step at a time and let Him take care of the future. The problem with my thinking is that I tend to look for the results I expect. But if it isn’t my place to know the beginning from the end, how would I know what the end should look like? Ecclesiastes 3:11 states that God “has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work God does from beginning to end.” We are designed with a yearning to know (and it is good!) that will never be fully satisfied on this side of heaven. He knows the paradox of our fragile frames and our thirst for the fullness of eternity, and He is tender with us. He unveils the splendor of our journey step by step so that we can learn to trust in Him and not in ourselves. Trust would not be trust if there were no question of the path! (Check out Timeless Trust for more on this subject.) Someday we will know fully, but now we know only in part (1 Cor. 13:12).
Sometimes life feels like a jumble of puzzle pieces that have no box to tell you how many pieces there are or show you what the picture looks like. I have two options: I can clumsily attempt to make the pieces fit – or I can simply trust God, the Master Designer, and allow Him to add the pieces and put them together into a masterpiece.
Every time I watch Ever After, I have to appreciate the meddling of Gustav, Danielle’s faithful friend, who sends Danielle’s true love searching for her. In an excited panic, Danielle yells to her friend in disbelief, ‘“And now he is heading for my house!”’ With a bright grin, Gustav simply replies, ‘“Then I suggest you run.”’ Danielle’s face lights with delight, and she darts across the field to meet her love. How I wish that were always my response to opportunity! All too often, though, I hide from situations that I am uncertain of and wish that someone (particularly God) would tell me what the best choice is (i.e. the one that works out most agreeably in accordance with my expectations).
Yet even as part of me shrinks back, there is another part of me that longs to stretch my legs and run freely into opportunity. As I tackle my final year of college, I have many exciting (read, “terrifyingly exciting”) choices before me, choices that have me at a crossroads in some ways. As I consider the potential outcomes and ramifications of each decision, my poor mind is spinning in circles. But the truth is that God started me on this path long ago, whispering His faithful promises over my life and sheltering me in His grace. It is not my job to BE God and know how everything will work out. It is my job to TRUST, obey, and simply take the next step that is before me. I will never know until I know – and only God knows what the fullness of my future looks like. Though not knowing exactly what lies ahead bothers me, I know that God is good and that He wants me to focus on the opportunities He is giving me now. After all, opportunity disregarded is nothing but wasted potential — a journey never taken, a life never fully lived. And I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I do not want to look back and see only “potential” in my life. (Check out Live Wild for more on living adventurously.)
What opportunities have been set before you now? What step is God asking you to take next, trusting Him with the results? Perhaps it is time to simply start running and see where God will take you. The results may not be what you expect, but consider that your expectations may be different that God’s intentions. This is the essence of God’s working all things together for our good (Rom. 8:11). Do not allow fear to make yours a life of wistful if-only thoughts and “great potential.” God always uses all the pieces – nothing is wasted in the puzzle of your life because He already knows the end from the beginning (Is. 46:10) because He is the Beginning and the End (Rev. 1:8). All your days were written by Him before one of them came to be (Ps. 139:16), and His intentions toward you are good (Jer. 29:11). He longs for us to walk boldly with Him in His sure mercies (Is. 55:3), knowing that, ultimately, it is He who sustains us and nothing can snatch us from His hand (Jn. 10:28-30).
And so, my dear friends, I suggest you run.