By Aaron Daffern
If only it was that easy.
Do we honestly expect God to act like a cosmic vending machine, dispensing life-plans as long as we press the right buttons and say the right prayers? Recently, however, I was going through some inner turmoil and stumbled upon an insight into his will that you might find intriguing. I am by nature a planner, a doer. During college, I must have reworked my plan for graduation six or seven times. I not only had to have my life in control, it had to follow my timetable.
I graduated from California Baptist University with a Bachelor of Arts of Religion with the intent of entering the ministry. I moved to Fort Worth, Texas to be near my wife’s family and attend Southwestern Baptist Seminary. I started night classes but needed a job that would support my family, so I started teaching at a local elementary school.
This is now my tenth year as a schoolteacher, and I’ve tried to leave education for the ministry at least half a dozen times with no luck. I am so antsy to do things for God that I continually try to help Him. Unfortunately, my “help” always tends to be like Abraham “helping” God fulfill His promise of a child by having relations with Hagar, his wife’s maidservant.
Remember the story? God had promised Abraham a child so that he would become the father of many nations, with descendants as numerous as the stars in the heavens and the sands on the seashore, but it wasn’t happening. Apparently God did not receive Abraham’s memo as to the correct time frame for fulfilling his promise, so Abraham gave God an “assist” and slept (with his wife’s blessing) with Hagar.
They had a son, Ishmael, and about thirteen years later the promised son, Isaac, was born. Abraham had to send his first son away, his own flesh and blood, because he was not a part of God’s plan. Ishmael and his Arabic descendants have been at odds with Isaac’s Jewish descendants ever since.
I’ve been quick to try and jump into ministry whenever I got bored with teaching. Several volunteer positions later, I’m still no closer to my original plan, ministry. It’s as if God has closed that door and opened up teaching, yet I continually beat against it, wanting it to open.
After much (self-inflicted) suffering, I’ve embarked upon a new strategy in deciphering God’s will for my life. I’ve simply decided that God’s will for my life is… whatever I happen to be doing at the moment. Deep, huh? (Don’t worry – I’m already in negotiations with a publisher.)
Honestly, though, I’m sick and tired of trying to “do” for God and having it blow up in my face. I’m tired of feeling like I’m never settled, like I can’t plan for three years in the future because I’m not sure if I’ll even be in the same profession that far down the road. Something had to change, and since the door wasn’t opening, I thought I’d try something new.
The future is God’s business. My business is the present. I cannot change it; I can only deal with it. This sounds harsh, but I have had to accept that I don’t have control of my life – God does. At times, I may think I’m in charge, but that’s simply delusional. God in His sovereignty has ordained that what I am to do right now is to do whatever I am doing right now.
So for now, God wants me to be a public school teacher. How do I know that? Because that is what I am currently doing. I’ll know when God wants me to leave education and enter the ministry whenever that happens. It sounds flippant and crass, but it’s the truth. You are where you are, because God put you there.
You’ll never be happy trying to do something else for God when He’s already given you something to do. Glorify Him in your present circumstances, not your hopes and dreams.
What happened next? The preceding paragraphs were posted (in essence) on my blog about five months ago. I had come to the end of my rope and was ready to spend the rest of my life teaching. It was then that God told me he was ready for me to enter the ministry. I am now confident that he wants me to serve as a pastor in a local church, but that could not have happened until I had let go of my incessant need for control and gave him my future.
I finally found his will for my life – whatever I am doing at the moment.
Aaron has been a school teacher for ten years in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex. He is transitioning to full-time ministry in River Oaks, TX with his wife and three children.