Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
- Romans 12:2
“Michael Westbrook was a gifted wide receiver for the Washington Redskins and Cincinnati Bengals during an eight-year NFL career. He had been an All—American at the University of Colorado and was known for catching one of the most dramatic touchdowns in Colorado history to beat Michigan. He had succeeded at every level. And at the relatively young age of thirty, he retired and became active in mixed martial arts. Why? Because apparently he never even liked football.
“That’s what he said in an article I read not long after he retired. He felt like he needed to play because it was expected of him. I was not only surprised that he didn’t like the game, I was also saddened that he had spent so much of his life doing something he didn’t enjoy. Like many other people, he had set his direction solely because of the expectations of others.
“We see this all the time, don’t we? Kids in my youngest children’s classes are all planning to grow up to be doctors or artists, gymnasts or football players, presidents or police officers. Sometimes these are the children’s plans, but often they’re really their parents’ plans. But as they get older, kids confess to no longer having those dreams, if they were theirs at all. They had learned to conform to the expectations of those around them. Many of us go through life trying to play a role expected of us by parents, spouses, or the culture itself.
“God put certain things in your heart, passions and dreams that others don’t have. It’s true that some childhood dreams may prove to be unrealistic, but there’s something in them that reflects God’s fingerprints in your life. Those fingerprints are unique to you, and they shouldn’t remain hidden. They shouldn’t have to conform to other people’s expectations or be quenched because someone has another plan for your life. If your dreams develop in the process of seeking God’s will and ﬁt within His overall purposes, follow them. He would not have given them to you if they were not important.”
- Tony Dungy and Nathan Whitaker, The One Year Uncommon Life (devotion for 26 January)
Tony Dungy said in this devotion that Michael Westbrook did not really like playing football, but I placed a question mark after ‘never liked it’ in the title. Because I found ways to like almost everything that I did that gained me and my family money.
But there is a difference in 1) manufacturing some enjoyment in what you do for a living or 2) looking deeply at what you do for a living to see God within it or 3) to eat, drink, and breath what you do because it is God’s perfect will in your life. If you have never experienced that last option, keep going to God in prayer until He reveals what you should do.
I have not hidden that my mother was highly controlling. It seemed she wanted to control every thought and every action, even those involuntary actions like your heart pumping or you taking your next breath. At one point, after graduating first in my class at the university, having one “B” and the rest “A” grades in graduate school, all in engineering, and I should have contested the “B”, I went to my mother and said that I wanted to be a writer. Her reply was that if I wanted to throw every bit of my education away, she would not stop me in becoming a fool, but I had to write about humorous stories of people in the rural South of the USA. I never brought up the subject again with her, but I kept writing stories, and almost none of them even loosely related to her demanded topic.
God created us so that we would want to have a personal relationship with Him. We have a choice if we follow God’s wishes or our own.
Even if we choose God, we may be like Tony Dungy said. We may choose a career path that leaves us unfulfilled instead of seeking God’s will in our lives.
For anyone in that position, you had a choice to accept or reject God, but you also have a choice in whether you want to be truly happy here on earth, right now, in the midst of chaos at all sides. Yes, you!!
I am having more fun than I have had since I first got married, and I am not talking about “first got married” fun – my job was the most rewarding in those years as well, and the being in love thing.
My body feels horrible, but my mind is running a 33 and a third rpm record on 78 rpm speed. It’s like the Chipmunks are trying to sing an entire concert in five minutes and run to the next town before dark. If that does not make sense, ask your grandparents.
Even with my body being exhausted, I cannot wait to get back to my computer and either write something or research the next thing. I can fight through the pain, just to be near God and feel His presence. I truly feel He wants me to do this.
This morning, I started a four-part Deviled Yeggs mystery (but then it is a follow-up to the last one – so five-part?), and the way it turned out was a mystery to me. I will write another post after the last part to fill in the gaps on “the writing of …,” but I had one idea in mind with the previous post, A New Home for Rotten Apples, that came out on 17 January. Something came up and I thought that I might have to discontinue the series, even for just a while, but the message that I kept getting was that I had to fight through to the other side.
God basically said, “Start typing and you will be surprised what happens.”
Now that I have said that, the way this turns out has no resemblance to how I intended the 17 January post to build. Yet, God was working something good in me in the midst of personal struggles.
Whether you like these short stories or not is really immaterial, but when you are doing God’s will, He not only uses your “voice,” but God helps you to grow and get closer to Jesus in the process.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.