“How did you know what God wanted you to do with your life?” my friend’s daughter asked me one day.
Home from her first year in college for a weekend, she was starting to feel overwhelmed by pressure to have some specific direction. She’d been waiting on the Lord, but hadn’t felt particularly led of God in any area. Most of her college classmates seemed to have their lives all figured out, while she was seemingly left to stumble around in the dark.
I looked deep into my latte, and tried to think of an answer. How did I know?
The reality is, I didn’t know too far in advance just what God had in store for my life. He didn’t drop me a divine road map from heaven. He simply provided me just enough light for the path I was walking down, one step at a time.
* * *
I wasn’t saved until after college, but as I look back, I still see the Lord’s guiding hand on my life even in my pre-Christian years, gently leading me at many of the forks I faced in the road in front of me.
God, in His sovereignty, led me in many ways, without me even realizing it. Through different circumstances in my life, I can look back to see how He led me to the right college, and to roommates and friends who would influence me closer to becoming a Christian. As I look back, I believe that God led me towards the study of art, and eventually to an art major. God led me while on a backpacking journey around Europe, during which I heard the gospel clearly and accepted Him as my Lord and Savior.
God continued to lead me as I grew in Him, sovereignly placing the right people and the right church across my path at just the right time. There were many things that I did or experienced during my life which God was certainly not pleased with, and yet He used those negative circumstances to further His plan for my life anyway.
As a new Christian, I was preoccupied with figuring out God’s will for my life. Many of my college friends were already working hard to achieve the items on their five year plans, but I found myself unable to even know what to put on my list for the coming year, let alone five years down the road. I like to have my life neatly planned out and organized, and at salvation, God began to mess with my carefully thought out goals.
I had been majoring in art, and although God would bring art back into my life many years later, He began to remove my desire for a career in graphic design, and my love for art over the course of a year or two.
This is not to say that art is a bad thing, but that a career in the arts was something which our all-knowing Heavenly Father knew was a bad thing for me at that juncture in my life, particularly with the kind of art, and the kind of art scene, I was hanging around before I became a Christian. He closed door after door, and replaced that drive I once had for the career I thought I wanted, with a peace to just trust Him.
The Bible says that the Lord Himself gives us the desires of our heart. I know some interpret this to mean that God gives us the things we desire in our hearts; while I do believe God provides us those things that line up with His will for our lives, there’s another possible application. I’ve come to believe that the Lord often puts the desires that we have in us, giving us those desires, such as my desire for creative endeavors. He enables us to desire the work He has planned for us.
This was a scary and frustrating time for me, not only because I was anxious to know where I was going to be in five or 10 years, and how I was going to support myself when my overseas work-study year was up, but also because I had friends and family asking too. My friends and my family were largely unsaved at this time, and they were all understandably concerned for this dramatic U-turn I had just made in life in beginning to serve Christ. I remember telling the Lord that my life would be much easier if He’d just drop a completely mapped out life plan from the sky for me.
The Lord had providentially had me working as an Au Pair for a family, and my employer was a fabulous cook who taught me so much. She not only taught me how to cook well, but also how to manage a house, take care of children, and balance a busy life during my work study year.
I didn’t know it at the time, but this was practical training which God was providing for what He knew to be the next step in my life. At the time, I couldn’t have known that within five years, I’d be married, with a toddler daughter and a son on the way. I could have never foreseen that I’d be embracing the life of a stay-at-home mom for that season of my life. Getting married and having children didn’t even make the top 20 list of things I wanted to do in the next five years, but as I walked with God, He brought my husband and me together, and made His will clear to us about getting married.
Over the years, the Lord opened doors for me to do freelance writing and typesetting from home, and He gave me an overwhelming desire to be home with my children, and enjoy their childhoods with them. The focus of my life was being the wife God wanted me to be, raising my children, and growing in Christ — quite a far leap from my original plans.
I hadn’t given my graphic arts training a second thought until a friend was trying to find someone to create a logo for her company years later. As she talked about her frustrations in looking for a good graphic designer, I sketched her out a logo on the back of our coffee house receipt with a ball point pen, without even thinking about it.
“I didn’t know you could draw! This is perfect!” I remember her saying.
I smiled and found myself thinking that there was a time when I was a complete show off as far as my artistic skills were concerned, and here my best friend doesn’t even know I can draw. I was able to see more clearly why the Lord allowed certain things to happen as they did. The arts were a huge idol for me personally, and the Lord knew what a stumbling block a career in the arts would have been for me before I was thoroughly grounded in my walk with Him.
That night, I went home and made a more professional copy of her logo for her, sending it to my friend in an email, and my part-time freelance graphic design career was born, leading to many opportunities to serve with my skills, including helping children learn to draw and teaching first grade art at a small private school. Where there were once only closed doors I tried in vain to pull open, now doors were flying open before me, and at just the right season in my life, too.
* * *
I looked up at my younger friend, wondering about the road that lay ahead of her and responded, “Maybe a better question to ask me would be whether or not the place I’m at in my life right now was part of any long term goal list I wrote up in college.”
“Is it?” she asked
I shook my head. This twisting, turning adventure the Lord has led me on has been much more exciting than anything I could have ever dreamed up or planned on my own.
Copyright 2009 Kimberly Eddy. All rights reserved. International copyright secured.