What do I do when there are so many options to choose from? How do I decide between so many good things and opportunities? How do I make sense of the right path to take? What IS the right path?
How do I distinguish between my own feelings and emotions and the Lord’s leading in my life?? What do I do when my mind is overwhelmed and swimming with ideas and I can’t make sense of anything??
Have you ever experienced these emotions or wrestled with these questions? Maybe you’re experiencing them right now….just like I am.
So what do I do??
On May 15, I traveled across the U.S. to Manitou Springs, Colorado. There is an incredible ministry located there called Summit Ministries. Summit is a two week long worldview conference for 16-22 year olds geared toward training young people in developing a Godly worldview and learning how to articulate and defend their faith and what they believe.
My time at Summit was the best two weeks of my life. I, along with app. 140 other young adults, spent 60 hours in lecture in 12 days. That’s the equivalent of a whole semester’s work! Yeah, it was definitely intense!
Not all our time was spent in lecture however. Lasting friendships were developed more quickly than I’d ever experienced. During afternoon free time, my friends and I enjoyed going to town for custard, hiking nearly every day, swing dancing, playing chess, and getting to know each other better. I also had the grand experiences of white water rafting and laser tagging!
(a few highlight photos. 😉 )
Summit was a lot of work on the brain; but it wasn’t at the expense of fun and enjoyment. I learned more in two weeks than ever before in my life, but I also had more fun than I ever had as well. I would just like to say this: if you are a 16-22 year old Christian: GO TO SUMMIT! (check out their website for more details: summit.org)
I had been wrestling with the above questions for a long time before going to Summit. I’m still wrestling with a lot of them…but God used Summit to give me some of the answers and a game plan for finding answers.
God particularly used one young man, whose name I didn’t even know at the time, to encourage and advise me.
One evening, a particular lecturer was speaking on world poverty. His place of focus was Tanzania. Tanzania borders Zambia (where I live) and the stories he shared pierced my heart deeply and my emotions were uncontainable.
During a break between lectures, I went up to the speaker and told him through tears how much what he was saying was impacting me and why; because I live so near.
The man started tearing up himself and gave me a huge hug while encouraging me that God has a purpose and plan for my life and the lives of those I love in Zambia.
I sat back down in my seat as we were about to begin part two of our lecture. The first part had been about making us aware of the poverty…that’s why my heart broke so badly because he shared some difficult stores. The second part of the lecture was about hope; how there IS hope for poverty!
As I listened to what the speaker had to say, I was encouraged, but all the questions I listed at the beginning of this blog post began to flood my mind. I feel called in SO many directions! I have a heart for world poverty. I have a heart for orphans, widows, troubled teens, rape victims, United States government, EVERYTHING! I want to fix it all!!
But I can’t…
The harsh reality is that I can’t do it all. God isn’t calling me to end world poverty, straighten out our Supreme Court, counsel every rape victim, end abortion, and clothe every orphan. It’s not possible for me to do all those things. It just isn’t!
So what IS God calling me to do!? How do I make sense of things when my heart is going in all sorts of directions??
During Q&A, I raised my hand and emotionally and asked my lecturer how I can know God’s will for my life. I asked him how I can block out my own thoughts and just listen to the Lord.
I didn’t really get my answer at this point. He encouraged me to keep praying and seeking the Lord, but what I really needed to know was how to listen for God instead of listening to myself! Even when I’m praying, my mind easily becomes clouded by my own emotions and thoughts.
After the lecture was finished I headed into the dining hall at Summit to get a cup of coffee. I passed by a table where two fellow students sat and one of them, Austin, called out to me.
“HEY! Megan!” he said, “I wrote your name on my arm. See?”
I looked down at his forearm and saw a bunch of names written there including my own. He continued…
“I’m keeping a list of people I want to pray for, and I just felt I should add you to my list. I could tell you’re having a hard time tonight. Are you okay?”
Austin’s thoughtfulness in praying for me and his welcoming spirit to check on me and give me the freedom to vent encouraged and helped me so much! I pulled up a chair and made myself at home at their table. I restated the emotions I was feeling and the pain I was going through with feeling uncertain about what God wants for my life.
The other young man at the table, who up to this point hadn’t spoken up, thoughtfully looked at me and then said words that literally changed my life.
“Look, I know what you’re going through. I know it’s hard…but listen! You need to stop focusing on everything. All you’re seeing is the big picture. You’re only looking at EVERY possibility! With that mindset, you’re never going to go anywhere because there’s no way you can make sense of it all…Hone in on one or two small things, move forward with them, and if they aren’t what God wants he’ll show you! Stop focusing on everything and focus on one thing at a time and then you’ll go far. You can’t do anything when all you’re focusing on is everything. The other thing is, you’re probably capable of doing far more than you really think you are capable of. Start out small, but God will use you for great things. Be faithful with little and then you’ll be faithful in much.”
My mouth gaped wide open in astonishment. I didn’t even know this guy’s name at this point; yet he said exactly what I needed to hear! I’d never in my life heard something so on point with what I was dealing with and so insightful about how to do better. God used him and what he said in my life more than I think this young man realizes. God used both those young men that evening more than I can say! (Austin and Wesley, if you’re reading this, I know I didn’t know you guys super well, but gosh, God used you both a TON in my life! So thank you!!!)
When I finally spoke, my words came out in a rather spacey tone. I just muttered something like, “Wow. C…can I just give you both a hug? That was incredible. Wow…that was exactly what I needed to hear…”
Wesley’s (yes, I learned his name) advice has never left my mind. I’ve even moved forward with putting his advice into action.
It’s easy for me to become distracted by my own thoughts. It’s easy to get lost in my own feelings and only see the big picture (and analyze every minute detail ;)), but what God said through Wesley helped me realize I need to take a step back; or maybe rather, a step forward. Sometimes thinking about all the options is good; but it’s not good when at the expense of focusing on the here and now and making a move toward a goal.
I heard this quote while at Summit: “One person submitted to a cause is more valuable than 1,000 who are interested.”
I don’t want to be someone who is simply interested in a cause…or even many causes! What kind of legacy would I leave like that? “Here lies Megan. She never DID anything in her life, but she was interested in ____” No. I want to leave a legacy of having DONE something for the Lord! I can’t do that if all I’m doing is showing interest.
So if you’re going through what I’m going through right now and trying to find your path at your stage in life, here is my encouragement:
Calm down. Carefully examine each possibility one at a time. Then, move forward with one or two opportunities.
For example, one of my possibilities was getting a correspondence job with our local newspaper. For me, moving forward was going and talking to the manager about it and seeing if it was even an option. I prayed as I drove to the office: God, if you want me to have the job please make it work; and if You don’t want it to work, please close the door. He closed the door. Awesome! God gave me the answer to that question and I can check it off my list, at least for now.
This hit on my next point, PRAY! As you move forward with the difference options, pray through them at all times. Put each circumstance in the Lord’s hands and trust Him for the outcome.
Lastly, know that you are valued and God has a great plan for your life! Like Wesley told me, “you’re probably capable of far more than you think you are capable of”. Don’t discourage yourself, but rather be encouraged! You CAN do great things for God! Sometimes we just need to take it slow and focus on one thing at a time. Don’t sit still like I did. Actually move forward!
So what’s next for my life? I’m not exactly sure yet…There are so many unanswered questions and possibilities for my life right now. I don’t know all the answers yet. What I do know is that I’m going to start moving forward and taking action to seek out answers. I’m going to pray harder than ever before for God to reveal His will for my life. I’m going to seek Him, and focus on one thing at a time.
I’m writing this from the perspective of still going through this myself. I don’t have all my answers yet, but I now have a better game plan of how to get the answers…and I hope you do too!
God be with you all! Oh…and PLEASE go to Summit! It’ll be the best decision you ever made. 😉