Today’s post is a guest post from one of my former high school students who is now in college. Earlier this summer, she posted this piece on her own site – Amidst the Whirlwind. With her permission, I share with you her thoughts on faith and trusting God.
On Faith and Trust – From A College Student’s Perspective by Alissa Winters
It’s funny. To some people, I am one that plans my steps very carefully. I am the one that always has the plan and has every single detail thought out and mapped out. I’m the person who likes to play things safe and not venture too far off the beaten path.
To others, I’m the complete opposite. I’m the person that signs up for too many things knowing that some won’t work out, but figuring that just the right amount will. I’m the one who agrees to do something before I remember to listen to the plan. I’m the one who just steps out and boldly does things without really thinking them through.
And to some people, I’m both. These people seem to know me best: my family, my closest friends, the random people that are able to tell me things about myself that I’ve never even noticed before (those are my favorite kind of people, btdubs). And I think I see myself as both as well. There are definitely the times where I have everything planned to a T and there are other times where I can’t even catch up with my spontaneity.
This past year at college certainly proved that to me. In some aspects, I had everything all planned out. I had things I wanted to do, things I wanted to be involved in. There were other times that I just boldly kind of stepped out on a whim and went for something. The biggest thing I learned? God has this funny way of working things out according to His will. I have never seen God working in my life as much as I did this past year. He literally slammed some doors shut in my face, and yet he also opened some other ones that I could have never thought of or imagined.
To give you the short-ish version, I am the kind of person that fills my schedule. I like to be busy and involved, and for me, a night with no plans is the worst kind of night. That being said, I instantly wanted to be involved with a lot of things on campus. I started applying for things and trying to get involved with different ministries and activities. And that’s when I saw God starting to open and close doors. (You can find her post entitled “Doors” from this past semester by following the link at the end of this post).
What I realized is that if God is not involved in your decision making process on your end, He will get involved in other ways. For me, I had been not praying about many of these decisions, and just making plans on my own. I never once had prayed about my decision to rush a sorority and join Greek life at college. If I had, maybe I would’ve learned an easier way that just sitting in my room, waiting for a bid that never came. But God needed to use that up front encounter to get my attention. I realized that in that decision, I had just plowed ahead and done what I wanted because I thought it would be fun. God had other things in mind!
And I’m so glad He did. I have absolutely nothing against Greek life at Grove City, but I soon came to realize that it wasn’t for me and that there were other activities and ministries in which I wanted to invest my time. And that’s when I started stepping out in faith and asking God to direct my steps. And man did He bless that.
I applied for Orientation Board, one of our campus’s largest ministries groups (learn more about OB here), and although there were a ton of applicants, I was blessed to be chosen to be a part of this incredible ministry.
It was after making OB that I truly realized things were not in my hands, but in God’s. I had better chances (percentage-wise) of getting into the sorority than into OB, so it was evident that God was leading and directing. And just like that, it was as if a switch went off in my brain. I thought “If I apply for something I’m not supposed to do, God will find a way to stop it.” And so I started applying for several different things. I applied for a new position at college, and two new jobs at home. I started singing on my worship team at college. I also applied for an ICO missions trip to Jamaica this next winter. And craziest of all, I asked one of my friends for more information on the Camino, a backpacking pilgrimage in Portugal and Spain that she was using to share the gospel with other pilgrims.
And it was after stepping out in faith like this that I began to really see God work in mysterious ways to make the things happen that He wanted to happen. I didn’t get one of the positions at college I was really hoping for, but I soon got offered a job that I never even knew existed in a building I’d never been in…but holy cow have I been blessed by my coworkers there! Singing at FCC has blessed me in ways I never could have imagined. I made ICO Jamaica, and will now be spending 10 days of winter break teaching in an orphanage and sharing God’s love and hope to the children there.
And true to form, craziest of all, I have now hiked 100 miles of the Camino and shared the gospel with many of the pilgrims we met along the way. God orchestrated some CRAZY things for me to be able to go on the missions trip on the Camino. We’re talking a cancelled May term class, landing and accepting the job I initially didn’t want, being excused from new staff training kind of crazy. (More about her journey on the Camino can be found by following the link at the end of this post). It’s a total God thing how He orchestrated everything so perfectly!
This summer I’ve been able to take some time to reflect on my past year, and the first word that came to my mind when I thought about myself just stepping out to do things, letting God decide yes or no, was reckless. Maybe I was brash and impulsive as I sometimes can be, and I didn’t really think things through. That’s probably very accurate.
But there’s also been a lot of really solid advice coming my way that makes me think that living boldly like this might not be so bad after all, as long as we recognize that we are going to have doors slammed in our face.
I was talking my good friend Rachel about my struggle with knowing what to do this next summer. She said that when we was going through a similar struggle before, several people shared the advice with her that she then shared with me: “Pursue every option. God will close the right doors.” I nearly started to cry as soon as I received these words. It was a real encouragement to hear my mentality put into words of advice for my own life.
The quote Rachel shared with me has stuck with me ever since I heard it, but sometimes I still felt uneasy about just pursuing several options. In church a few weeks later, our college aged group was discussing the sermon, when the leader shared one of his favorite quotes: “God can’t steer a parked car.” He told us that even though it’s sometimes hard to decipher what God’s will is for us, we still need to be moving and active, because it is then that He can work. It is then that He can open and close doors. We should be consulting the Lord every step of the way, but we can still be making plans and going a certain direction, as long as we make these plans with open hands, knowing that He holds the control to wreck our plans or switch our direction as He sees fit for our benefit.
The last thing that stuck out to me was something I found in my journal just the other day. I had jotted down some notes from our OB retreat, and had this quote written down from the director of the camp we were staying at: “We must step out in faith sometimes before we even know why or how or when; we must trust that God will provide, because what God calls you to do, He will enable you to do!” He had shared his incredible story of how God called him to this camp, and was a true inspiration to step out in faith even when in our opinion it couldn’t possibly work out. I believe that it is in these moments—when we recognize that we are utterly powerless, and thus choose to trust solely in the Lord’s mighty power—that God works best and His glory is most magnified.
And so in summary, a major theme in my life this past year (even though I didn’t quite realize it or put it together until recently) is that of stepping out in faith. Taking risks and pursuing things with the mentality that God will help to direct my steps and path. Trusting in the Lord and knowing that He will accomplish His perfect will through me, not my will that I hope is blessed by Him. Being active and trying to decipher what God wants of me and my life by living boldly.
I’ll be the first to admit that while stepping out in faith sounds like a good idea, it is also terrifying. It’s a risk! I think it’s scary for us because we recognize that in pursuing every option, some pursuits will fail. God is going to close some doors. We might know that it is His will and yet still be disappointed or confused at the time. But this is when we must trust that the Lord truly does have our best interests in mind and is working all things according to His perfect will and purpose.
So my encouragement and my challenge to you is to start stepping out in faith. Start pursuing things that interest you or you are feeling led to. Pray about each and every decision you make and step you take. Live boldly for the Lord and be willing to take some risks and experience some slammed doors. But overall, be comforted and relish in the fact that God’s got this.
To read more posts from Alissa, please check our her blog at https://amidstthewhirlwind.wordpress.com/.