I remember years ago, when my oldest daughter, Mia, was about two years old (she is now almost twenty-one), I began to pray earnestly for God’s will in my life. It became a daily, passionate petition. I wanted to be in His perfect will at all times in my life. I wanted Him involved in the details of my life. I didn’t care if it looked different to the world…. and it has almost always looked different. “Not my will Lord, but your will be done in my life. I don’t want to be conformed by this world. I want to walk and live set apart for your purposes. Use me Lord. Use my gifts, use my hands, use my words.”
I heard a speaker one Sunday, several years after beginning that daily prayer, who did covert mission work in Iraq during the active wartime, and he shared some stories of the extremely dangerous situations he had experienced while carrying out these missions. He explained the supernatural ways that God delivered him in every one of the circumstances. He stopped at one point and said something profound and I felt like we were the only two people in the room, as if he was sharing a secret with me that I was going to need in order to stay the course. He said, “I am safer in the middle of the most dangerous war zones in Iraq while in God’s perfect will for my life than I would be if I were living a comfortable life in America outside of His will.” It sunk down into my heart like a hunter’s well -placed arrow into the heart of its prey. It nailed me. My desire to be in God’s will, and walking in His purpose for which I was created, became engrained in my heart yet another layer deeper.
During these early years of proactively seeking God’s purpose and will for my life, He had me submerge myself into the book of Proverbs. I read through that book over and over, continuously for years. It was all I was supposed to study. I fell in love with every little morsel it had to offer me. During those years, my children were around 5,2, and 1. My only time to myself was early in the morning, so I rose at 4:30 a.m. and had Proverbs and God all to myself for two hours. The verses became planted down inside of my soul and I noticed they would rise up out of my spirit when a situation arose that called for the wisdom of Proverbs. Having Proverbs as ammunition for the daily battles in my life brought me a miraculous amount of peace. (Even during a time when things should have been crazy with three small children, beginning the long road of homeschooling, coaching and training 15-20 hours a week, and supporting my husband while his architectural career began to take off at break neck speed.)
One verse in particular stood out to me and became almost like a daily mantra for me. It was my request to God every single morning with a hunger to stay earnestly focused on the next step and place that step exactly where He wanted it to be. In Proverbs 4:25 &26, I found the prayer that not only led me into each day as a young mother, but it has given me the strength, the wherewithal, and the courage, to look each new day straight in the eyes since my husband tragically died. I feel now as if my lips are pursed together, my chin tilted slightly downward with determination, and I am leaning into unknown frontier. My eyes are narrowed in on the path that lies before me. Sometimes I feel like I am in a jungle and I am blazing the path with a machete in my hand, knowing that my very survival depends on each step I take. “Let your eyes look straight ahead, and you eyelids look right before you. Ponder the path of your feet, and let all your ways be established.”
Today I began a 40 day study of Rick Warren’s book, The Purpose Driven Life, which has recently been expanded and released as What on Earth am I Here For. I am doing it with a small group of seven other women from my church and we are committed and accountable to one another as we press into this teaching. The irony in it is that this was one of my husband’s all time favorite books. It brought about a paradigm shift for him in the way he saw his purpose in this life. His favorite line he remembered, and frequently quoted, is the first sentence in the book. “It’s not about you.” His life became increasingly more and more about worshipping God, connecting with believers, maturing in his faith, and serving all people. He was walking out God’s purpose in the ordinary task of daily living and making a difference in everything he set his hand to do. For some reason, I never read the book. (Maybe because I was still stuck in Proverbs!)
Today, I began reading the book that helped visibly change my husband’s life and take his relationship with God to a whole new level. Proverbs 4:18 describes his life well. “But the path of the just is like the shining sun, that shines ever brighter until that perfect day.” My path is finally getting brighter after two years of survival in the midnight hours of what felt like complete darkness. I have never asked God, “Why?”, through all of this pain and grappling in the dark…. but I have asked, “What?” “What do You have planned for me?” “What on earth am I here for?” “What are You doing through all of this?” “What is my purpose?” “What do You see in me?” “For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible,… everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him.” Colossians 1:16 I have been in what has felt like the dangerous trenches within the heart of a bloody war zone for my heart and my life, since I learned of my husband’s sudden death on February 22, 2011. I have survived. Because of my prayers for years leading up to that day, and God’s abundant grace and mercies, I have been kept safe in God’s perfect will. There is a purpose for life. My life has significance. It may be invisible to me most of the time, but I am determined, with my “eyes straight ahead”, to discover it and fight for it.,