A believer seeking the infinite God amidst the finite world.
My favorite verse growing up was 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." It is a verse I can recite without missing a beat. I would say it to friends on their birthdays or when they were going through stressful situations. I thought it was easy to believe as it simply said, "God is good." It was clear to me how God is the complete opposite of us, humankind, who always cause havoc and destruction; God is sinless, good, faithful, and loves us like no one else can.
In my prior black-and-white thinking, God brings goodness by eradicating evil, but I have learned that the whole picture is more complicated than that. There are times when God uses difficult situations to help us to be aware of what is not of Him so that we can lean onto Him and be refined in the fire. It was a struggle to accept this, but there have been many situations where, afterward, I have been left in awe of how much I have grown spiritually.
Exactly a week before I was supposed to take my driver's license test, I got into a car accident. In all technicality, it was my fault and what resulted was a severe emotional turmoil. Aside from the tears that hardly eased my inner pain, I could not help but feel and think that I was awful for putting someone else into a situation that could cause PTSD for many days afterward. Despite my family reminding me that it was just an accident, I struggled because I was not the driver I aspired to be. When I started learning to drive, I told myself I would be safe, refusing to be reckless and selfish. I remember telling God it was not fair. I had fallen behind all my peers who, in my eyes, were fully-fledged adults while I was still very much dependent on my parents for many things. I wanted to prove to myself and my family that I could be an adult, too, and passing my driver's license test would be a major accomplishment.
I learned many things from the situation, the most significant being that I doubted God's goodness. In my quest to be a good driver, I had unknowingly put myself in control with pride at the helm. I could not accept the fact that I caused an accident. After all the careful attention invested in learning how to drive safely and responsibly, my mentality was that I would be safe from harm because I am a safe driver. The consequence of thinking this way was that there was no room for God's grace and mercies. Thus, bitterness, anger, and resentment at God, myself, and the situation took up space in my heart after the accident. My powerlessness in the hands of "fate" overwhelmed me, and I realized that the situation was purely meaningless, with me being in control. It was what it was, and there was nothing I could do.
God thankfully freed me from my desire for perfection apart from Him. He led me to realize that my idea of perfection was not aligned with the example set by Jesus — I desired to be good so that I could feel good about myself. My motivation and desire was amiss because I based my identity on how good I was in different aspects of my life, e. g. , being a kind person. I thought that this was the way to love God and others; however, the reality was that I was missing the whole point of Jesus' sacrifice. As I was a sinner, by default, I was destined for failure in my attempts to do good. The only way to overcome the disruption of sin was to accept God's grace in faith. It is from the foundation of faith in which good works can be produced within me.
If I had gotten my driver's license, I planned to bring the car to college and drive myself to classes. The lack of a driver's license and car gave me an opportunity to walk with God to class each day. That daily walk blossomed into precious moments where I would talk to God and worship Him while enjoying nature. It forced me to be intentional with my time and slow down instead of speeding off to different things. I got to experience the peace and joy that comes from understanding a concept I learned in a chapel — to walk at the speed of love, the same speed Jesus walked, at simply three miles an hour. I got to greet and cheer on people I knew, meet people I did not know, and have meaningful conversations with them. I truly learned how to love God and others by putting God first.
There is no growth without tension. If the accident had not happened, I might have continued to live a superficial life operating under my own will and control. I would have missed the point of Jeremiah 29:11, which calls us to trust in God and His will for every part of our lives. Through this inconvenient but timely disruption from God, He woke me up to see my sin and my need for Him. In the highs and lows of my life, I know that I will continue to have peace and joy because God has the best plans for me. I have grasped what Psalm 16:2 expresses: "You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you. ”