“In reviewing [my] past history, having travelled over every step of advance to [my] present standing. I can say. Praise God! As I see what God wrought, I am filled with astonishment, and with confidence in Christ as the leader. [I] have nothing to fear for the future, except as [I] shall forget the way the Lord has led [me], and His teaching in [my] past history”
I turned 29 years, 11 days ago!
Easily, one of my most fulfilling years has been this past one. I would never have imagined it would be so.
Let me explain: I started the past year with discontentment and entitlement.
You see, the younger me had a plan. There was a blueprint to life. I’d charted it, and handed it over to God to implement it. He was impressed by my strategies, I thought, because things seemed to fall into place. I capitalized on the principle of cause and effect; and manipulated situations to align to my expected end. This worked perfectly. There were a few curveballs, but they were mostly benign – nothing my strong will couldn’t handle.
These experiences reinforced my self-sufficient attitude, and I genuinely imagined that the tangents were God’s way of testing my resilience. And that I had! I went through life, expectant: starry eyed and bushy tailed.
So, imagine my anxiety (nay extreme anxiety!) when God unexpectedly went off-script months, weeks and days to my 28th birthday. Literally every single experience that had hitherto defined me, hit a dead end. All of a sudden – there was no easy correlation between my pursuits and my reality.
I went to God, and threw a major fit.
The following Bible account explains my state of mind in that season:
As he draws nearer home, the older son hears music and dancing. There’s a big feast. He summons one of the servants, and before he can even ask, the servant blurts out: Your brother is back!
“He’s back! He’s safe!” the servant repeats, “Your father has killed a fattened calf. Come celebrate with us.”
He quickly scans the crowd in confusion and as his eyes meet his father’s, his expression evolves to frustration and then anger.
You see he’s exhausted from the field. He’s the son who’s always been there, faithfully tending to his father’s business: breaking a sweat, making sacrifices and denying himself. He expects that his fidelity will be rewarded. Cause and effect, right? But his father goes off script and by-passes him. He throws a tantrum…
- Luke 15:24-32
Just like the prodigal son’s brother, I went to God, and my hands were full of all the things I’d accumulated in my 28 years: A Third Generation Adventist with a golden track record in various ministries; Lifestyle reforms; Healthy and proper habits; Natural talent; A hard-earned Medical degree; abstinence from a lot of contemporary filth… I had checked these, and other boxes. I’d achieved many milestones that my peers were still trying to master. Like the pharisee praying at the temple, I flaunted my ‘medals’ (Luke 18:11-12).
My unspoken accusation to God was: You owe me!!
In that desperate despondency, God exposed me to myself: I had wanted control over my own life, because I subconsciously distrusted God. I feared that His ‘expected end’ would be too underwhelming; and the call to ‘bear my own cross’ made me a little anxious.
My focus at that time was primarily on the glory of tangible accolades, and the prospects of worldly acclaim. When I saw just how fickle my mind and my heart was, I got even more desperate. I eventually had to acknowledge that I wasn’t ready for (or deserving of) most of the tokens I was asking of God.
Then God started moulding and remoulding my life. He asked me to come with all those ‘credentials’ and lay them at His feet. I would have lost heart if I hadn’t believed that I would see God’s goodness, in this life. But He encouraged me to wait on Him, to be of good courage – and He strengthened my heart. Like the sinful woman (Luke 7:37-38) I timidly broke the alabaster box – my life’s accumulation, at His feet.
When God says He’ll give you a new heart (Ezekiel 36:26), he means it. He redefines your pursuits. He refines your taste. He elevates your perspective, God teaches you to let go. And whilst surrender can be very intimidating, it’s a lot easier when it is birthed of God.
You still strive, but His Spirit works with you. He teaches you to trust Him, sometimes with visible evidence but sometimes – the evidence comes only after you’ve taken the first steps.
Over the past year, I’ve learnt more about God’s heart. It’s not that God doesn’t want to bless me. On the contrary, He wants to give me exceedingly and abundantly more than I could ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20). Higher than the highest human thought can reach is God’s ideal for me. But He knows my frame, He remembers that I am dust. He knows that I am inclined to value His presents more than His presence. And that, would be my undoing. He had to step in. And the gospel called me to a complete rescripting of my life story.
God has started a new thing. He is relentlessly digging around my heart to produce: Love; joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility and self-control. He is working with me, as I strive against my natural inclinations. And to be honest, I still don’t understand this whole concept fully. But what gives me courage, is the fact that God is the one who is leading out. By beholding Him, I am being transformed. It has not yet been revealed what I shall be: but I know that, when he shall appear, by God’s grace, I shall be like him.
I am convinced that we are on track! I don’t wish that I was led any differently.
I actually have traces and glimpses of the things I’d been praying for. Some of which I genuinely don’t deserve. But God has been coming through for me, and sometimes, it gets overwhelming. Even as he adds on, I pray that He helps me fix my mind on the greatest gift, and that’s eternity with Him.
We have enough Lord,
We have enough!
And in the overflow of the much that we have,
I pray that we’re open to giving!
(1st Peter 1:3)
About the Author
Hi, I’m Caren Otadoh,
A servant of God, and a friend to man.
My main ministry is in my proffession as a Medical Doctor; I currently practice in Kenya my native land.
But beyond that God has often used me in planning and coordination of events; and in creative strategy.
My favorite places are: gardens, kitchens and libraries. Especially when there are lots of people and lots of good food.