When I decided to go into social work, it was based on a deep-seated knowing that I was supposed to make a difference in the lives of others. As a child, when I would be asked the ‘what do you want to do when you grow up’ question, my response was always, “to help people.” I didn’t know specifically what that meant or looked like, I just knew that was my truth: Helping.
Proverbs 16:3 (NLT) says, “Commit your actions to the Lord and your plans will succeed.” Early in my faith walk, I thought that meant ‘Tell God what you want to do, and He’ll make it happen.’ Being a therapist was something I really enjoyed and felt called to do. I had made a decision and a plan to be a social worker and committed it to the Lord. It had succeeded. In all my years of private practice, when clients would tell me how much they appreciated my help and that they hoped I would never leave, I would always say, “God brought me here, and I’ll be here until He moves me.” It was always kind of a flippant statement, because I never imagined that God would move me.
But then, all of the sudden, in the last year or so of practice, I had this nagging feeling that there was something else. More for me to do. I kept asking God what else there was. This was my profession. This was my plan, and it had succeeded. I had to back up to verses 1-2 of the same Proverb to grasp where God had me: “We can make our own plans, but the Lord gives the right answer. People may be pure in their own eyes, but the Lord examines their motives.”
My plan was to retire a social worker. My motive was security. I came to understand that the nagging feeling was an examination by God. That I had made some plans, but that He had the right answer. As I felt Him calling me away from social work, I heard God repeatedly telling me that I would continue to use my skills, but in a different way. I was not sure exactly what that meant, but I trusted Him, and was willing to commit my actions to Him, so I left. It was one of the hardest, scariest things I’ve done in my life. But I knew in my spirit that leaving was the right thing to do.
I’m currently on day 27 of a devotional called “100 Days to Brave,” by Annie F. Downs. Today’s title is “What’s a Closed Door?” Annie writes: “Brave people commit their work to the Lord and trust that His plan for their lives might not look the way they planned. And that’s okay.” If you had asked me 10 years ago what I’d be doing in June 2018, the answer would’ve been something to the effect of, “probably the same thing I’m doing now.” I never imagined myself being anything but a social worker. But God has other plans, and that’s okay by me. Because one of the best things I have learned about God is that His plans are ALWAYS better than mine, and that when I line up my will with His, there is absolutely nothing that can get in the way of Him accomplishing what He wants to do in my life. So, I make very few plans these days. I have some thoughts and ideas about what I think would be pretty awesome, but I submit them all to the Lord and say, “not my will, but yours.” (Mark 14:36) Because I am called be thankful in ALL circumstances, which IS God’s will for me. (1 Thessalonians 5:28) Knowing that God will make it happen, because He who has called me is FAITHFUL. (1 Thessalonians 5:24)
So as scary as that door closing was, I have a contentment in my spirit. I know that God has a bigger plan for my life, and that He would never ask me to surrender something if He didn’t have something better waiting for me around the corner. So my prayer is for God to open the right doors and close the wrong ones. I don’t want to make any plans until I have submitted them to the Lord, He confirms they are indeed His will, and then we move forward together.
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