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On Your Mark.

Updated: Aug 1, 2019

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

I was a Paralegal for eleven years. It was not something I was necessarily passionate about…though I did enjoy aspects of it, but it was always my Plan B. It was my security blanket.

I still get quarterly statements from my old 401k Plan that conveniently advise if I am still “on my mark” based on my current age and eligible retirement date. For a Type A personality like mine, this very clear indicator of where I stand is a welcomed comfort.

A quick definition of “success” is a person or thing that achieves desired aims or attains prosperity. In today’s world we consider a person “successful” when they have attained popularity and/or wealth. The job you have, the car you drive, the house you live in, the position or title you hold….all are used to somehow measure your level of success.

I’ll admit for many years as I climbed the title and salary ladder of my corporate job, I got lost in this definition of success as well. One of the most basic needs of a human is to feel significant and for many years I found my significance in my career and my paycheck.

Even after I left the corporate job and answered the call to enter ministry, I still struggled to separate my worldly understanding of success with what God sees as success. While the salary aspect no longer really mattered to me, the position did. I wanted to know my years of working toward something would actually payoff. I wanted to be seen as capable and not just a by product of my mentor or living in the shadow of everyone else. (Side note: Comparison kills your purpose.)

I have experienced so many ups and downs over the past year. I was blessed with an opportunity late last year that I knew only God could have orchestrated and I left everything I knew and loved to pursue it. I knew God was asking me to go. Leading up to that decision, I had experienced setbacks and disappointments that honestly left me resentful, hopeless and questioning what I was even doing in ministry. I truly believe God took me out of the situation because I was no longer able to see with any clarity my purpose.

I started my “dream” job in December. It was everything I had been preparing for, prayed for, and said I wanted. As I started, I had a vision for what my ministry would look like. I felt able and equipped and knew God was leading and directing my every step. However, due to some unforeseen Goliaths that I had no way of knowing existed, by March I found myself depleted, exhausted and ready to leave ministry completely. My personality had changed. I was having panic attacks. My drives to work became longer and longer and filled with tears. My hope in what I knew God had called me to do was fading fast. And then one day He told me it was time to say goodbye.

I remember driving back late from work that night and screaming at God, “Why? Why would you bring me here knowing this is what it looked like? Why would you give me the position just for me to have to give it up?”

It was in that conversation that I finally understood a position is nothing without a purpose. God revealed to me years ago, my purpose is to be a friend to those that feel like they are alone. My church home had instilled in me to strive to try and reach the unchurched and those that have yet to belong, but I allowed my quest for a position and “next step” (and to be seen as capable by the world’s standards) completely blind me. Thus started several months of extensive prayer and if I’m really honest, trying to convince God to let me stay.

I didn’t want to be seen as a failure. I was confident I was able to do the job, but to turn around and then leave after only a few months, felt like a complete failure to me.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

I didn’t want to say goodbye to people that I already considered friends and family. I felt obligated to stay because I knew my leaving would make life more difficult for them. God very quickly spoke to me and said, “Are you going to live obliged to man or to Me?”

Luke 16:13 says, “No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”

What if this was my only opportunity to ever be a Worship Director/Pastor? After all God, don’t you remember I gave up what I loved to follow You to this place? It's not like I can just return home as if I never left.

Philippians 1:6 - being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

With every what if and tearful prayer, God seemed to supply His answer through scripture, through sermons, and through the words of other Godly people until I found a peace that surpassed any rational and irrational thought I had.

I did not intend to share any of this. My reasons for leaving and my conversations with God are between me and God. However, I am sharing part of my story in hopes that maybe someone that is feeling hopeless right now or like somehow they have missed the mark on their life, will see they are not alone.

I am still in the waiting after leaving my position in June. I am still very much my Type A self that is expectantly waiting on God’s next move and door to open. But something that this season has taught me is that everyone has a different journey. It doesn’t make my journey better or worse than yours. It simple makes it different. Whether you are 15, 35, or 85 and just figuring out your purpose doesn’t matter. What matters is that God is at the center of it.

God doesn’t measure your worth by how many degrees, or titles or zeros are in your paycheck. He doesn’t call the most equipped per the world's standards, but instead calls those that are willing to be obedient to His call even at the risk of appearing foolish to man. He is able to see something that no resume or test could ever fully show and that is the heart of the person. Trust that as long as your focus is on Him, you are On Your Mark. <3

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Thank you Jennifer for sharing your journey. I am certain it will help many. Giving up control and taking each step in obedience not knowing what is next has to be one of the hardest things I have attempted. God is still working on me, especially in this area. I have a control problem. I have grown considerably in this area but have so much further to go. His plans are so much better than our plans. What we see is only a fraction of what he sees. Trust and obey. Love you.

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