Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Twists, Turns, & Truth

I never pictured myself starting a blog, mainly because I didn't feel I had anything interesting to put out into the world, but I find myself with a lot of free time this Summer. So, I figured I might as well put something out there and, just maybe, it might entertain one bored or lonely soul. I hope you enjoy regardless :)

I read an article today and thought it was worth sharing. It was one of those articles that felt like it was written directly to me and my circumstance. Of course, I know that there are several in the same boat to some extent and that's why I am sharing it. It seems long but is a quick read and you'll be better off having read it (I believe you will anyway). Instead of paraphrasing the wonderment that it is, I am just going to record it verbatim:

Curving Along the Straight Path

I pulled my convertible VW into the Biola parking lot at the back of Sutherland Hall, put the car in park gathered my books and walked through the double glass doors. I arrived for classes right on time and exactly 20 years later than I had planned. I've got a great job; I'm an English professor at Biola , a career that I love and that, 20 years ago, was so far beyond my dreams for myself that the possibility of doing this did not occur to me.

While I may not have envisioned myself as an English professor back then, I could imagine myself as an English major. In fact, I applied and was accepted to Biola This is where I had planned to receive my undergraduate education, but it is not where I attended. In fact, I didn't go to college right after high school. Two months into my senior year of high school, my mom died. The oldest of five children, I was grieving the loss of my mother, putting my then 5-year old brother to bed and working instead of enrolling in Freshman Composition, P.E. and History. My day-to-day life changed drastically, and my future altered course.

Eventually, I went to college part time for a semester, full time for a year, part time again for several years, and finally full time for the last three semesters of my bachelor's degree. Four colleges and 10 years later, I finished my B.A. During much of that time, I felt like a quitter. What I know now is that I was incredibly tenacious. I felt like I was walking a winding path, but it was the right one. The shortest distance isn't always the optimal route. My husband and I often use this anaolgy: Saturdays are typically our errand days. We don't plot our course by simply determining the shortest route between our destinations - grocery store, bank, Costco, Home Depot. Instead, we consider a number of factors. Hinges from the home improvement store don't need to be refrigerated, but hamburger does. Therefore, we hit Home Depot before Costco. In our errand-running, the best route is not always the most "efficient" in terms of distance or time traveled. There are other things to consider.

The same is true of our lives. Sure, it would have been great to graduate "on time," but, in retrospect, it was better to walk the circuitous path. God was indeed ordering it. Since I was 6 years old, I have known that I could could trust God with my soul. Over the past few years, I have been learning what it means to trust him with my life - my plans, my hopes, my future and my present. I cling to proverbs 16:9 as I make my plans and know that God directs my steps.

I'm in my 40's now, and things are good. I have a lovely home, a terrific job, good friends and an incredible marriage. I have felt joy, contentment, even triumph. However, sometimes things are pretty tough. I have also felt sorrow, confusion, even anger. Regardless of what I feel - or maybe the better phrasing is in the midst of what I feel, in the midst of my circumstances - I have begun to say, "What can I learn? Lord, how do you want to shape my character?" As I ask these questions, and as I continue to learn to surrender my life to God, my focus has become less about outcome and increasingly about what God is doing in my life and my heart in this moment or season. I set goals; I plan a path; and I work hard to achieve these aims; but I am more comfortable with what appear to be detours or changes in destination. I read in scripture that I am to trust God with all of my heart, not lean on my own understanding, acknowledge him in everything I do and know that he will make my path straight (Proverbs 3:5-6). My "straight path" has had numerous bends in the road, but I knwo that God has ordered my steps. I arrived ready for classes at Biola precisely two decades later and in a different role that I had planned, but I got here right on time.

By Cassandra Van Zandt the assistant professor of English who holds an M.A. and Ph.D.

This was a great article for me to read and I hope that it benefited all who read it. I was able to relate to a lot of it, fotunately my mother has not passed away, nor am I in my 40's yet, but I was reminded that there is no "ideal" blueprint for the child of God. We all have different callings and God is accomplishing something in and through us in a different ways. Romans 12:2 comes to my mind as I taught it to children at VBS today. It is so important to remember that we should no longer be conforming to the pattern, the ideals, the expectations of this world. We take our direction from the Lord and allow him to tell us the time and place for everything we do in life.

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