Never have I doubted that God has a plan for my life. I have tried my darndest to derail it at times; High School and College flashbacks--brain bleach, please. Yes, it's painful to remember some of the times in my life when I was not attentive to God's plan for my life. My plan was so different and so much harder, but I have no doubt HE used my rebellion to draw me back to a closer alignment with HIS plan.
Let's go back, for a second, to that "By 50 Bucket List." There were 3 things included: Obtaining National Board Certification, Running and completing a 5K race, and Going on a mission trip to Niger, Africa. At first glance, it looks like a: get that additional certification so you can get a nice, big raise to finish out your career; get that approaching 50 body into a little better shape; stop talking about working for Jesus and actually DO it, kind of list. Hint: those were MY plans. Here's what God's plans were.
National Board Certification: Stop being afraid that people think you're actually a better teacher than you are. Take the time to honestly reflect on your teaching practice. Make note of areas in which you need more information or training. Recognize, humbly, that there are things you really do well. Make your brain work hard again--it's a muscle and it only grows when it's stretched. Feel and respond to the urgency of deadlines again. Feel pride in a hard-earned accomplishment. Acknowledge God's role in the success and do something good with the pay raise-- I sponsored 2 little girls from Africa through World Vision.
Running a 5K race: Realize again (it's been a long time since I birthed those babies) that you do not have a super model's body, but it is capable of doing amazing things. Remember how to set goals and work toward them. Push yourself when you think you can't do anymore--rely on God's strength. Feel the difference between accomplishing a brain-goal and a body-goal. Have the opportunity to experience one of those moments when the "veil is so thin" (we'll talk more about those later) that you can tangibly feel God's presence. As I reached the point in the race when I fully realized I would be able to run the whole way, Francesca Battistelli's song, "Beautiful" played on my ipod. I could not stop myself from raising my hands, with tears on my face, and worshiping our great and glorious God from whom ALL blessings flow.
Mission Trip to Niger: This one's a little more complicated. I still am struggling to discern God's plan for what this trip did to me. I think HIS plan was to unsettle me, to challenge the complacency I felt in my faith, to shake up my comfort in my church, to push me to look at some difficult situations through HIS eyes and HIS love. Two things I know: HE gave me a glimpse into the lives of missionaries--a career my son and daughter-in-law are entering. This was not a comforting or settling glimpse. It was a hard awareness I am still struggling with. HE also sent me home with a sense of "unbalance." HE shook me up about what is important. That's big--really big--and will doubtless be the subject of more reflecting/writing.
I thought I knew what these experiences were preparing me for. I had no idea what God was preparing me for.