I want a plan.
I want a 10-year vision with details and steps and instructions.
I want to map out the next 40 years of my life and know exactly where I am going and how I am going to get there.
And every time I pray about that desire, every time I ask God for that, his answer is really simple:
Maybe you’re having the same conversation with him I’m having right now. Everyone told you that college was going to be the “best years of your life,” and you’re a sophomore and they haven’t happened yet. Or you’re a junior and graduation isn’t a release, it’s a time bomb waiting to send you into the worst employment situation we’ve had since World War II.
Maybe you had a picture of how marriage was going to be. But in what felt like a blink of an eye, the word “divorced” was added to your bio.
Maybe you’re unemployed, and it feels like you lost more than just your job, you lost your identity.
Maybe you can’t imagine sitting in a cubicle for the next 40 years of your life. Little kids don’t dream about growing up to be what you became.
Regardless of the path you took, a lot of us end up in the same place – the woods of life.
The trees are darker than we thought, the path more difficult to find, the way home wholly lost.
And so we turn to God asking for a plan and he says, “No.” Or he doesn’t say anything, which feels like no in most ways.
That’s exactly where I found myself three-and-a-half years ago.
It was November 5, 2008. Stuff Christians Like had existed for 9 months. It was growing, but I didn’t know why. I was going somewhere with my writing, but I didn’t know where. I felt stuck and confused, sitting in a cubicle for 40 hours a week at an IT day job while this other thing started to tug at my sleeve.
And so I wrote in my journal a lot, especially on that Monday, because I’d just visited Dave Ramsey’s office for the first time.
I spoke to his whole team, and it was the second time I’d ever spoken professionally. I had no idea what I was doing as a blogger, a speaker or a writer, but when presented the opportunity to speak there, I took it. And it went well.
A week later, I was back in my cubicle, back in my normal life, and frustrated with the thought that there was something else I was supposed to be doing.
This is what I wrote down in my journal:
“God, I’m afraid of giving the Stuff Christians Like blog everything I have and getting my hopes and dreams tied up in it because at some point it will end. It will disappear and I’m afraid that when that happens I’ll be left with nothing.”
As a way to prevent myself from being hurt, I’ve inappropriately taken the attitude before of “If I don’t care that much or get that excited, I can’t be hurt that much if things don’t work out.” This is a toxic way to go through life, but that’s where I was at that moment. Afraid to let go. Afraid to let loose.
This is how I felt like God responded to my fear of giving too much to Stuff Christians Like. I didn’t see these words written on a wall or receive them from a burning bush. This is just what I heard in my heart and scribbled down in my notebook:
“Good, you’re right to fear that Stuff Christians Like will go away. Because that will happen. It will vanish and evaporate one day. That’s why I don’t want you to give your all to the site. I want you to give your all to me. I want all your hopes and all your dreams.
Because I am unchanging. I will not go away. I will not fade, I will not vanish. I am the great I am. I and I alone can make that statement. You can’t see it right now. Your eyes are blind to the things I’m doing, but know that in the mosaic of my mind, the only mind that spans generations, I am preparing you for something. I am tilling your heart and your soul right now. I am stirring up everything you think you know about you and me because I am preparing you for something. And what that is, I will not say, but know that it is mine, and things that are mine begin in love and end in love and they never make sense to the human mind because my designs are too wonderful to fathom.”
At the time I wrote that, I could have never imagined I’d one day join Dave Ramsey’s team. I didn’t know that we’d move to Nashville. I didn’t know I’d get to write books or travel around the country or do any of the ridiculous things that have happened in the last three years.
But God knew, even if he refused to tell me.
I don’t know where your path is going to lead. I don’t really know where mine will lead next, to tell you the truth, but I don’t need to.
Because if I could tell you one thing today, I know what I’d say. In fact, if I could build a time machine and go back to that frustrated, angry, confused Jon Acuff that scribbled in a 5 star notebook in his car before he went inside to start his day job, I’d tell him the same thing:
You don’t need a perfect map for your life. You’ve already got a perfect Messiah. And, though it feels impossible to believe sometimes and doesn’t match your expectations, he’s got a plan more wondrous than you can even imagine.