Saturday, January 7, 2017

when you could 'make it happen', but you shouldn't

Do you ever suffer from FOMO?

Fear Of Missing Out.  It's a real thing y'all.

Has there ever been a party you couldn't get an invite for?
Or a club you couldn't join?
Has there been an event you couldn't get to?
Or an experience you just couldn't afford?
Maybe the thought of all you would miss out on drove you crazy.

I get it.  I've been there.  But I can't let the crazy drive me to make a bad decision.  Fear of missing out is just that - fear.  It's never a good idea to make decisions based on fear.

You may have gathered from my last post {which has been read by over 12,000 people - what?!?!?} that I am a pretty big Clemson fan.  Clemson isn't just my alma mater or my favorite team.  Clemson is my family.

And if you haven't been locked in a closet for the past few months you also know Clemson has a really good football team.  So good, in fact, that they are playing for the National Championship in Tampa on Monday.

I planned to be there.
Of course I planned to be there.

I was there for every home game this year.  I was there for the National Championship in Arizona last year.  {Front row, actually.}  Of course I would be in Tampa when we finished it this year.

Or not.

To make a long story short - we missed the deadline for requesting tickets through the University.  What would have been an expensive ticket is now an astronomically priced one.

I will spare you the details of the mental struggle that has taken place over the past week.  I will just say I have spent more time than I would like to admit on Stub Hub and TicketMaster.  I have wasted hours I can't get back reading articles and talking to friends and trying to figure out how I could possibly work this out.
I had to work this out!  
Of course I was going to the game!!  
I would find a way to 
make. it. happen!

On Wednesday afternoon I regained my composure and began to think rationally.  I remembered that 'making things happen' isn't always a good idea.  I went looking for wisdom and truth and this is what I found.

A prophet by the name of Isaiah spoke these wise words generations ago -
Doom to those who go off to Egypt thinking horses can help them,
impressed by military mathematics,
awed by sheer numbers of chariots and riders -
and to the Holy of Israel, not even a glance,
not so much as a prayer to God.
{Isaiah 31:1-2}

I wasn't planning a trip to Egypt - just Florida, but the same truth applies.  I had a plan, an agenda.  It was an uphill battle so I began looking to every earthly resource I could think of to make that plan happen.  I was going to have to get creative and spend some extra time and money but I was going to get it done and get what I wanted.

Not so much as a prayer to God.

I've walked with Jesus long enough to recognize the nudges, the unsettled feeling, that cause my entire body to tense.  It can feel like excitement and adrenaline but it's really just a shutting down, a shutting out of the truth.  I get a one-track mind and determination turns to obsession.  I wake up with the pain in my cheeks that comes from a night spent with my jaw clinched tight and I know...
I have forgotten the most important thing about making plans.  Listening.

My plans are not always His plans.

And whether it is a nation at war or a girl trying to get to a football game, God has something to say about all of our plans.  Our job is to listen.  If we don't...I think the word there was 'doom'.

Do I believe God is testing me right now?  No.  But I do think it's an opportunity for obedience.  I do think I could move forward with 'making it happen' and maybe have a good time, but miss out on something better God has for me and his kingdom.  Before you think I'm being overly dramatic and spiritual consider this.

It would cost us thousands of extra dollars to 'make it happen'.  Is it okay to spend our money that way?  I don't know for sure, but I do know those are dollars that could be used towards ministry work I have been called to do.

We would have to compromise our original plans and leave our children behind.  It it okay to spend our time that way?  I don't know for sure, but I do know there are needs at home right now that I am uniquely designed to meet.

We would essentially be 'forcing' ourselves through a window.  Is it okay to force it?  I don't know for sure, but I do know that if God really wanted us to go he could open a door instead.

When I finally hit my knees on Wednesday and acknowledged the Lord of my life is also Lord of these plans, this was my specific request - Open the doors you want me to walk through, close the ones you want me to avoid and give me the wisdom to discern the difference.  I surrender my good plans to your perfect ones.

As a writer and speaker I get up in front of people all the time and tell them that following Jesus means closing your eyes and opening your hands.  I plead with them to surrender their hopes and dreams to the One who knows best.  I don't want to just say those things.  I want to live them.

When I get all excited and my FOMO starts bossing me around I get off track.  I take off running and take matters into my own hands.  But when I stop and get back in position as a follower of Christ,
I can set aside emotion and expectation.
I can respond in faith, not fear.
I can find true peace and real hope -
not hope that everything will work out the way I want, but hope that it will work out as God intends.

Whether it's a job change or a parenting decision,
a financial situation or a family vacation,
a battle plan or a football game,
these same truths apply for all of us.  You fill in the blanks.

Doom to those who think ________ can help 
or are impressed by _________ 
and awed by _________, 
and to the Holy of Israel not even a glance, not so much as a prayer to God.

Just because you can make something happen, doesn't mean you should.  Before we place all our confidence in the things of this world that impress us and offer us help we should first turn to God and ask for his guidance because Isaiah also shares this truth...

...the Lord waits to be gracious to you.
{Isaiah 30:18}

And he's not waiting for you to 
develop your own plan or 
become perfect or 
achieve success or 
prove yourself worthy.  
He's just waiting for you to ask.  

What he gives you may not be what you'd hoped for, but it will always be His best.  

One last thing.  Here's the real danger inherent in a 'fear of missing out'.  If we get so concerned about being left out of someone else's story we might end up missing our own.  Now that is something to stand in fear of.  If we stay focused on living in the pages God has written for us, we won't have time to force ourselves into a chapter in which we don't belong.

Am I disappointed I'm not in Tampa tonight.  Yes.
But the road to God's best is often paved in disappointment.

Am I going to panic tomorrow morning and hop in the car and drive 9 hours and buy an overpriced ticket and make. it. happen?  I hope not.

I sit here surrounded by family in my cozy house next to the dancing flames of a warm fire and I know I am right where I am supposed to be - in the middle of God's will for me.

Go Tigers!  I'll be right here to welcome you when you get back home.

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