by Alex Fittin
Even though many of us can say with our mouths that we trust God and want to follow His plan for our lives, in practice I think we can all admit that we subconsciously put our plan first. We do. We want things to go our way because we are selfish human beings who deep down, feel that the world revolves around us. It hurts even typing that, because I want to think that I *know* it’s not all about me and act accordingly, but I don’t. My default is selfish, and any redirection comes from that head knowledge, not from my sinful nature.
So why do we do the (good) things we don’t actually have in our nature to do? The simple answer is Jesus, and while yes, that is enough, I just love the way Paul says it in Romans 7:14-25:
We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do-this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.
So how does God take control of our journeys and put us on the path to doing good works in His name? Many of my friends talk about “feeling led,” and “praying through things,” and that is super awesome, but God usually takes a different tone with me. I’m a pretty impulsive person when I set my mind to something. I get tunnel vision and have a tendency to blaze through all of the obstacles in my way. This can be good, sure, but it can also be more destructive to the overall purpose, and usually calls for God to not just close a door, but put a brick wall in my path to change my trajectory for His glory.
This seemed to happen a lot for one of the few female MVPs of the Bible, Esther. We don’t know a ton about the trajectory she was on before her recorded story, but I can assure you that it was not to be put through a medieval form of The Bachelor that I think we can all assume involved a lot of nonconsensual sex, and then having to be married to historically one of the most feared and violent kings ever, and then being put in a situation where she had to stand up for a cause she didn’t feel all that connected to in the first place. I could go on and on. Point being, a lot of stuff happened to Esther up until the time that she followed God’s will.
While sure, I cannot relate to… many things in Esther’s story, I can relate to having wrenches thrown into my plan for my life. And you guys, that’s true for all of us, right? Look back over your lifetime and think about the different outcomes if you had had your way in the moment. The first thing I can remember is when my dad got laid off and we had to move states the summer before my senior year in high school. If I had my way back then, I would never had met my husband and had my children and found our church family and on and on and on. And you guys, I PRAYED for that outcome, like so hard. But God had a bigger plan. Or the time(s) that we adopted, and I wanted so badly for it to go a certain way, but it didn’t. And still hasn’t. Sometimes God has us hang around in the messy middle for a long time before we get to see His master plan, and that’s where I’m at right now.
Thinking back to Esther, We can gather from scripture that she may not have necessarily been on a close walk with God. The Bible doesn’t mention her daily quiet time or her prayer journal or her ladies Bible study, so we don’t get the notion that she took that stand of hers until she had to. Not until God threw a brick wall in front of her face like “What’s it gonna be, Esther? Easy way out and watch your people die or trust in Me?” She didn’t even know if it would work out. That messy middle was a lot more terrifying than me moving a short distance from where I wanted to live, what with the threat of impalement and all.
Sometimes, we get to see God’s plan at work, and others, we have to trust God when we are standing in a closet crying because it turns out that adopting a teen isn’t as glamorous as I had hoped and He says “This is still my plan, even when it doesn’t feel like there’s anything in it for you.”