I guarantee you this post is going to be 100% honest. I am not hiding anything… this post is a peek into the things I have been struggling with recently, but even so I hope you find truth in the words I write, as I pray everyday for the words to speak to my audience. Thank you again for reading.
I have been required to make some of the hardest decisions I will ever probably have to make in my life. My test scores for college are not that great. I have applied everywhere I want to go, but I can’t help but feeling like maybe God wants something else for me entirely. I have so much doubt in admissions decisions. I have hit rock bottom more times than I can even count. I have felt as lost as Alice in Wonderland. I feel like I am just shooting in the dark. It feels like every single thing that could go wrong, is going wrong. I pray for clarity and I don’t receive it. I feel like I know what I’m doing and without a moment’s notice I am lost once more. My life is such a mess right now and it’s been getting harder and harder for me to see. I can’t sit here and tell you surrendering has been easy for me because it hasn’t, but in the midst of this I have been confronted by God.
He constantly asks me: “what’s the difference between a desire and being chosen?”
“Hey, Cass. I know you’re having a hard time right now, but I thought I would ask you again to see if you know the answer, yet. What’s the difference between desire and being chosen?”
“Hi, just checking in. Do you know the difference, yet?”
“No, God. I don’t,” I always find myself replying. Because that’s the truth… I can’t really tell the difference a lot of the time.
But, I’m in the season of my life where knowing the difference between these two things can make or break every single decision I am faced with. Eventually, I am going to have to pick a college. Yes, I have my desired schools, but are they where God is choosing me to be? I am going to have to declare my major and while I think I know what I want to spend the remainder of my life doing, I cannot tell if this is my desire or His choosing. It’s almost like God has been trying to prove to me that knowing the difference between the two is vital information that I must uncover. And recently, this has been the most relevant regarding my return to the Philippines in the summer of 2017.
In the picture above, I stand with two of the most amazing girls I have ever met in my life, Marian and Maria. I look at that picture and I feel like I am there yet again, 8,000 miles away from America. I feel the sweat pouring down my face. I hear their laughs, so precious and lively. I see their smiles, illuminating Tarong Elementary through the dust as it swirls in the wind. In an instant, I am there and my heart is the most joyful it has ever been. The Philippines changed my life in more ways than would be possible to recount. I know it’s typical for people to come home from trips such as these and say the same exact thing, but it’s the truth. I would never trade those moments for anything in this entire world and there really is no other way to put it than that; the 27 hours of traveling I had to do to get to them, I would do a hundred times over if it meant I could hug them and see them smile with my own eyes once again. I left my heart in that country… it’s home to me.
Upon returning to America, I felt as though I was destined to return in the summer of 2017; with every single bone in my body and fiber in my being, I knew this was what I was supposed to do. Time passed and memories about the Philippines surged, but I continued to feel as though I would return.
Now, here I am, confused and lost. As November approached, it began to feel less and less like God was choosing for me to return home and more like I was just desiring it. I felt content for a few days about the possibility that God may not have it in the cards for me to embark on round two of this crazy journey, but then I didn’t feel content with that at all. The feelings I had came in waves; every single day felt different and undoubtedly, they still do. I have felt passionate about my return and I have felt comfortable with that chapter of my life closing. I have cried myself to sleep at night due to the amount I miss those I left behind and some days, I have smiled thinking about it. When brought up to my parents, I am shut down due to other financial responsibilities we have as I am preparing to go to college.
I still have no clarity and have not made a final decision.
Every year, they host a parent meeting regarding the trips they will offer that summer and information/cost of them. Today on November 13th 2016, they held the meeting for the launching of 2017 trips.
I was not there.
The entire day, my heart continually broke just thinking about it. I arrived at church later after the meeting to attend InsideOut and girls in my small group kept mentioning that applications open tomorrow.
I couldn’t breathe when they spoke.
I currently have no idea what God’s choosing for me as all I see is the darkness of a rabbit hole.
But through this cloud of uncertainty and fog, God has knocked on my door daily, relentless in pursuit, to ask if I have figured out the difference between being chosen and just having a desire to do something.
About a week ago in the midst of my confusion and sadness, I was drawn to open up Matthew and read for a little while and of course, God spoke. I began reading Matthew 22, but specifically the parable about the wedding banquet. You can read it on bible.com here.
In this parable, we see that Jesus tells a story in order to get his point across with precision and clarity. He compares God’s Kingdom to a wedding banquet and does a phenomenal job. The king invited everyone in the kingdom, but no one showed up. Of course, as you probably would, he stood there astonished that he prepared all of this food and drink, but to no avail. The dining room was empty. In dismay, he sends out another group of servants in hopes they will return with guests. “Go out into the busiest intersections in town and invite anyone you find to the banquet.” They rounded up everyone they could find: people of credibility and people of blame, good people and bad people, joyful people and burdened people. When they are brought to the dining room to eat with the king, he feels satisfied. I read through this several times, until one part particularly rattled my bones. Jesus hits the nail on the head after telling this story by saying:
Many are invited, but few are chosen.
Matthew 22:14 (NIV)
For a few days, this kept ringing in my head and I felt as though God was trying to break down my walls; He was trying to speak to me. While finding this verse did not confirm the difference between my desire and His choice, it helped me clear up misconceptions and made me think. So, here is my interpretation of this verse and why I believe God threw it upon me.
Jesus is explaining that God extends an invitation for everyone who desires to be a part of His kingdom. Every single person plays a role in carrying out His plan, but He chooses individuals for special purposes and plans. I thoroughly believe that God has a plan for your life, 100% and I believe it’s greater than you could ever imagine. I believe that at some point in your life, or in multiple points God will choose you to do something beyond imagination. It may not be what you desire or what you wished for, but it will be God’s choice for your life. So, in this moment, it’s your choice whether or not you will respond to the choice. Will you choose his choice over yours?
You know, I think it’s so powerful that He could’ve chosen to have it any other way, but instead He choose that specific way for your life. So, many are invited into God’s kingdom, but He chooses a few at a time to carry out His specific plans.
I cannot sit here and tell you that I have differentiated between desire and being chosen, because I just haven’t. I don’t have the answer; I am still just as confused as I was prior to reading Matthew 22 that afternoon. I still can’t tell if God is choosing me to return to the Philippines or if it’s just my own desire. And I honestly believe that one of the hardest things I will ever have to do in my faith is make the call: is this desire or His choice? Even so over the past few weeks, I found that when I surrender my desires to Him in prayer or by journaling, I clear my head. This surrender may not last very long as worry creeps in again. I know that after I surrender something, I will ultimately have to return to Him and surrender it once more, but the confusion seems to fade, even if it is just for a moment.
I have found that when I pray daily for Him to “use me” that I am given opportunities to glorify Him.
I believe if you pray for Him to use you in whatever way He deems fit, He will make clear His choice for your life.
Pray this prayer without ceasing.
And when you are faced with the challenge I am currently facing, pray more.
When you cannot see His face, just as I cannot, continue to surrender your desires, because He promises that if you surrender your desires, He will give you His.
He will choose you when the time comes and He will make His voice clear.
God has blessed us with people in our lives that make us smile when our world is dark, make us laugh, take care of us, and encourage us. One of His many blessings to us is our community. But are you cherishing the people around you with thankfulness?
The New Year is here and while that is a blessing, sometimes it can be trying on our faith. We want God to work within our timing and when He doesn’t, it can feel like our New Year is backwards and becoming Yew Near. But we must not assume God is up to malice because He is not working within our timing.