The Lord's timing is perfect. Five words that are so easy to repeat over and over and tell myself day after day. When the challenge of "Raising the Bar" was posed,
I was driving home that night thinking about this and the Lord hit me with a ton of bricks. "Rachael, you know this truth but do you really believe it? Do you really believe that no matter what happens in your life, God never changes and is still worthy of being worshipped and praised? Do you live your life as though Jesus could come back or call you home any second? Or do you waste time and bask in the pleasures of this world? Do you really believe my timing is perfect?" There are times in my life when I have felt so clearly convicted by the Lord there might as well be a billboard ad proclaiming it; this was one of those times. For me, Raising the Bar is believing and living my life as though God's provision is perfect; this is the story of why.
I had a plan. Up until my senior year, I loved my major; I wanted to be a Residential Architect. All I wanted to do all day, every day, was design homes. It's something I've been doing since I was a kid. Last summer, right before my senior year of college, the Lord put the idea of a year of ministry on my heart. To be honest, I never considered myself to be someone that would up and leave my family and friends and move far away. However, as the Lord grew and strengthened my heart for Him in this way, He specifically put the city of Miami, Florida on my heart. Over and over again, in sermons, with mentors, from speakers at conferences, and in my alone time with the Lord, Miami kept being placed on my heart. I made the decision in November 2009 that I was going to spend the 2010-11 school year serving in Miami with Campus Crusade for Christ. The plan was to leave August 10, 2010.
My full time job this past summer was to raise the support that I needed in order to live in Miami for the next year. It was challenging, stretching, hard, emotional, joyful, and encouraging all at the same time. On August 10th though, the very thing I had feared most in this process became my reality. My full financial support was not raised in time so I wasn't able to go. All of a sudden I went from having a plan for the next year of my life to having no idea what I would do or even where I would live. And at this point I understood: God had called me to Miami to go through the process but never actually go. A radical concept! When I realized this I thought, 'Lord you have so clearly called me to Miami, why wouldn't you want me to go? Why wouldn't you want another laborer in this dark city?'. When the Lord calls me to something, my natural inclination is to expect that the initial calling from the Lord is it; that I deserve and will receive the end product. I don't give the Lord any room to change my heart or lead me another way; I assume if he's called me in one direction that has to work out. What I have learned through this experience is that a calling from the Lord is a process. Just because the Lord called me to Miami didn't mean that I was going to go; but I saw that He had so much growth in store for me through that process.
Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.
The Lord did not just want to challenge me in the area of vocation, however. During this time of raising support, my boyfriend at the time - who I was completely falling for - broke up with me. I didn't understand. I couldn't make sense of it. But I knew that the only shoulder I wanted to turn to was the Lord's. Even though it was and is so challenging, I thank God everyday for this continued time of healing and brokenness as I deal with the emotions of this breakup. God is the ultimate Provider and Healer! This comfort and strength is far beyond anything on this earth. The Lord is using this time of healing as an incredible reminder in my life. I was falling for this guy but the Lord was leading him in a different direction. God's love rained down on me in a way I will never forget. As hurt, sad, and broken as I was to not be cared for in return by this guy, I found myself wondering, 'How often do I not love and adore my Savior who loves me unconditionally?'
Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
All of a sudden this plan that I had for my life was starting to change. Instead of doing ministry on a college campus, I am looking for work. Instead of living in Miami, I am trying to find housing in Minneapolis. Instead of being with this man, I am single. These are all things that our world would look at and say, "How could you have failed in all of these areas?"; "You can do it; you can change your life around!". Instead I choose to say, "Thank you Jesus for breaking me! Thank you for bringing me a time in my life of full surrender to God. Thank you walking through this with me. Thank you, because I know that your plan is far better than anything I can imagine for myself! Thank you for your unconditional love and guidance."
Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.
This verse has brought so much hope and wisdom to my life. No matter what, if I'm following where the Lord is leading me, even if he decides to change my path, my plans will succeed because God is there and he is working in that. God has a better plan for me here in Minneapolis and has blessed me in so many ways, that I am already beginning to see why He brought me down this road!
When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?
It's incredible that in times of many unknowns, it is so easy to look at all the negatives: 'Why is this happening; Why don't I have this yet; Lord, why aren't you there?' Instead, look at all of the blessings we've been given. As hard as it is to not have housing, I have been blessed with an incredible sister who lets me stay with her; thank you Jesus that I am not living on the streets. As hard as it is to not have a job; thank you Jesus that I have not been sold into human sex trafficking. I found myself saying to the Lord, "Thank you, I feel like Hope and the people there are becoming a blessing and a constant in my life." Even with that the Lord continues to challenge me…. "Rachael, are you okay if the only constant in your life is me?"
This is so convicting for me, and it reminds me to ask, 'Will I praise and worship the Lord no matter what happens, no matter what I've been given, no matter what's been taken away?'
Brothers, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job's perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.
During this time of brokenness, the Lord has continued to bring me back to Job; an incredible story and so challenging for me. No matter what happens during my time on earth, good or bad, God is worthy of praise. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Raising the bar for me is not only increasing my understanding of God's faithfulness, but truly believing every day (not just telling myself) that God's timing is perfect. If we can't even fathom his greatness, why would I ever think I can dream up a better plan for myself? Part of believing God has a perfect plan for me is accepting that I don't know how long I will be on this earth. I could be gone tomorrow or here for another 80 years. No matter how long I am here, I want every second to honor the Lord. The pains and unknowns of this earth can't even compare to the joy that is coming! Raising the bar is doing things of kingdom worth with my time. Raising the bar is asking myself, 'Do I view not having a job right now as a blessing? Because I don't have a job and have more free time, what might the Lord want me to do with this time in my life to glorify Him?' Raising the bar is living for this day that God has blessed me with and not being concerned about the future; but seeking the Lord in everything.
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.