I was eighteen and about to graduate from high school. I had been a straight-A student since preschool (Ok I lied. There was one B in grade school. I blocked it from memory.). I scored high enough on the ACT to have my pick of high-ranking universities. I could go anywhere I wanted and be anything I wanted.
My plans were set. In August, I would leave St. Louis and embark on a new adventure…in Kansas City. All the way across…the state. At the not-so-prestigious…University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC). I would go there to study…
“You’re wasting your mind,” one of my classmates said one day as we left worldview class. I’ll never forget the expression of disdain as he shook his head and slung his backpack over his shoulder. I knew what he was thinking; I couldn’t blame him. From the outside, it looked like I was throwing away the mind God had given me.
But I knew something else.
God would not let my gifts, talents, and abilities go unused if I chased after Him.
I learned that lesson from my mom, an incredibly creative and talented individual. Throughout her life she has danced professionally, choreographed professionally, sold art, refinished furniture, written music, taught preschool music, taught Bible studies, acted in church plays and community theater, led worship teams, taken voice lessons, taken piano lessons, authored poems, choreographed for show choir, written musicals, and the list goes on. Oh, and she raised 4 kids as a stay-at-home mom.
Her songs may not be on K-Luv and she may not be starring on Broadway, but no one can rightly look at her and say her creativity has been wasted. She has submitted her life to following Jesus, not to maximizing her potential. Her greatest aim is knowing Him, not being known. Yet in His faithfulness, God has given her opportunities to use all her gifts and passions in various seasons of life – not all at once, not always in the ways she expected or even wanted. He, the Great Artist, has been faithfully painting a greater masterpiece in and through her life than what the world can see.
Flash forward in my life over a decade. I’ve long since graduated college. Not as a dance major but as a psychology major. I didn’t go on to pursue a Masters’ degree, which makes the Psych degree, well, almost useless (practically speaking). I became a wife and a campus missionary to college students. I began working in marketing communications with small businesses and nonprofits (that’s a story for another day). I became a mom, once, twice, three times a lady (couldn’t resist). I began a biblical counseling training program I plan to complete (hopefully in the near future). I started (and finished) writing my novel. I embarked on providing my children with a rich, quality education at home. I discipled countless college women and wrote a premarital counseling curriculum with my husband.
Today I received an email from a client of mine. We worked together a few years ago on another client, and she contacted me last week for services for her own business. Her email today said, “I came to you for your mind. I choose to work with people who challenge me to think more clearly, and it was evident in our meetings that you have a very keen strategic mind and an effective and professional way to help others see what they are not seeing.”
I don’t share that to pump myself up, I really don’t. Go be impressed with someone else (preferably Jesus). I share it because I found great, God-exalting irony in the contrast of her statement to the one made by my classmate years ago. My name may be meaningless to 99.99% of the world, but I do not believe my mind has not gone to waste. From discipling college women to teaching my children to assisting clients with their communications strategy to crafting a novel, God has and is using my creativity and intellect as His vessel.
Here’s the point of all of this: When you submit yourself to Jesus as the King of your life, He is faithful to use every bit of what He has created in you for His glory and the building of His kingdom.
It may not happen in the ways you expect.
It may not happen in the ways you want.
It may not happen in the ways that make money.
It may not happen in the ways that achieve measurable success.
It may not happen in the ways that the world affirms.
It may not happen in the ways it happens for others.
It may not happen all at once.
But it happens. Because God, the Great Artist and the Loving King is a God of purposeful, intentional design, not a God of wasted space.
Friends, when the love of Jesus is enough for us, we are free from needing the affirmation of the world, the dollar sign in our bank accounts, the awards and certificates that measure our ‘success’, to validate our gifts and abilities. We are free to let the Great Artist mold and shape us into His vessels, trusting that He will put every piece to good use according to His purposes.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
Neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are my ways higher than your ways,
And my thoughts than your thoughts.” – Isaiah 55:8-9
For further reading: Jeremiah 18, Isaiah 64:8
Image credit: morguefile.com