Picture this. You are thirteen years old, and your mind is focused on all things related to eighth grade. In the background, your mom is calling your name. Meanwhile, inside your head, you’re thinking about the Back-to-School dance, tryouts, your friends, your first period teacher, P.E., Algebra, and the weekend. Your mom is still calling you, but her voice seems distant — just a little transactional noise that blends in with the rest of it — the TV, your siblings playing video games, and the sound of your dog’s nails scratching the hard wood floors as he runs from the Maine Coon Cat that’s been bullying him for the past week. Then Mom calls you again, and this time you hear her — not because it finally registered that she’s been calling you and might actually need something, but because she touched you on the shoulder and gave you the are you deaf look.
I’m not thirteen years old, but I bet God sees me as his teenage kid sometimes. Many times over the course of my life, he has asked me to do things, and I have refused.I rarely put him first; I was always first. Eventually, he just told me to do it (whatever “it” was) and made it so uncomfortable for me that I had no choice but to move. For a long time, I was angry with myself because it seemed as if I could never finish anything. I started college, left college, joined the Air Force, left the Air Force, went back to school, finally finished school, got accepted into a Master’s program, never started classes, moved to Florida to teach, and then I left Florida. Who does that? As you can see, there’s a pattern of not finishing things. I like to say that I always take the scenic route from here to there. But is that really what’s going on?
Shortly before moving here nearly 10 years ago, the average number of years I had spent anyplace was four years. Imagine my surprise when years five, six, seven, and eight came and I was still here! One thing I can share now is that I never wanted to come here. I loved living there — in Nashville. I had great friends, a wonderful work family, and a lovable church family. I was singing in a Praise & Worship Band that catered to teens and young adults. I was also poised and ready to start a Ph.D. program in Education. All was well with my soul. And then it happened again — the voice in the distance telling me to move (and yet again, I refused). I pretended not to hear God’s voice. I wanted to be first.
So, then it started happening more consistently — the discomfort. I was becoming bored with my work, but I loved the kids I taught, and I loved my friends at work. The “foolishness” associated with any job can be taxing, and teachers deal with a lot of foolishness, but I still wanted to be there. When I was faced with not being there any longer, I wept. Surely I could figure something out that would allow me to stay there. I tried to make a deal with God, but I think he pretended not to hear me like I had done so many times before. There’s no way I was going to put yet another goal on hold. I wanted to have Dr. in front of my name just for the sake of having Dr. in front of my name, and I was going to get it. Remember that pattern of not finishing things that I shared earlier? Well, it reared its ugly head again. I finished the school year and moved from there to here in five short weeks.
What I’ve learned is that the author and finisher decides when something is finished — not me. He will always be first. When he says a season is finished, it’s finished, and the signs are quite clear. Whether it’s falling leaves or a fall from grace, that season is over. Whether it’s a knock on the door or turning in your keys — that season is over. Whether it’s wailing on your knees or jumping for joy — that season is over.
I’m so thankful that I can better hear God when he speaks to me — now that I’m no longer thirteen. It has taken me three score minus twelve years to finally hear his voice and obey his choice to go wherever he leads me. I will no longer allow my limited vision or someone else’s choice for me to interfere with God’s limitless bounty and glorious plan. I hope you’ll join me in putting him first.
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NOTE – The term “transactional noise” is not mine. Pastor Bill Hybels used this term to refer to rumblings, chatter, or grumbling.
Here’s my Music Monday selection for your listening pleasure. It’s entitled “First” by Lauren Daigle. May blessings abound! <3
Note – This post was originally published on 8/12/16.