I’m a planner. I enjoy the process of mapping out a project, finding the milestones, and then tracking the progress each step of the way. If I have a hobby, it’s likely geeking out with the latest project management and planning tools.
Around the first of the year, my friend Joel Runyon tweeted that he was using MySubplot from Donald Miller’s Storyline project. Naturally, I had to go see what that was all about. I watched the video, bought the book, downloaded the complimentary audio version, and immediately felt like I’d been given a map to the most precious treasure on earth.
Let me back up for a bit.
It’s no secret that I’ve learned a lot about myself in the last year. I realized that I’d been living scared, making most of my decisions from a place of fear. I also began to understand that happiness was fleeting, recognizing that I’d often regret decisions that made me “happy” in the short-term. Instead, the real treasure was found in living a life of purpose and joy.
The only catch: I wasn’t sure exactly what my purpose was.
Back to what I heard in Storyline . . .
“When people plan their stories around themselves, they come to the end and realize their stories were empty. When we plan our lives around God, though, we find ourselves in a grand adventure. Our lives are no longer our own, they belong to Him. Our hope at Storyline is this process will be eye-opening for you. By the end, we believe you’ll be able to see more clearly what God is doing, and we hope you’ll find a subplot you were designed to live.”
A tool for helping me find my subplot in God’s story: my purpose.
I jumped in with both feet, mapping out my past, understanding the themes of my life, finding redemption in the negative turns.
Then I got to the chapter on identifying my wants and desires and came to a screeching halt. The author must have predicted that response because it walks right through my thought train.
First stop: Guilt for my wants and ambitions. Next stop: What about God’s specific plan for my life?
To explain his approach, Miller references Decision Making and the Will of God by Garry Friesen, sharing its four principles:
- Where God commands, we must obey.
- Where there is no command, God gives us freedom (and responsibility) to choose.
- Where there is no command, God gives us wisdom to choose.
- When we have chosen what is moral and wise, we must trust the sovereign God to work all the details together for good.
So it’s possible that I can quit fighting my dreams and peculiar preferences and still be in God’s will?
Simply put, this rocked my world.
[Note: If this interests you, you’ll want to read the entire book. I’m sharing the small portion that resonated most with me. There’s lots more meat on that bone.]
My journey was only beginning . . .
As powerful as this notion was, I needed more confirmation that I wasn’t in the midst of bible gymnastics, twisting and contorting to justify a selective interpretation. I decided that I would ask my pastor before I went any further down this path.
Oddly enough, my daughter and I bumped into him that very Thursday evening in our local CVS, both waiting to pickup prescriptions. Not quite willing to advertise my naivete, I asked if it would be okay if I emailed him a question from my reading. Mentioning that it would be a while before he could respond, he said that he would look into it after an upcoming family vacation. That evening, I put the book back on my shelf and made some notes in my prayer journal.
Because I’d been at work all day Saturday for a Board Meeting, my husband and I decided to watch the live service from home Sunday morning. We plugged the ipad into the television and settled in, admittedly feeling a little run down.
When Pastor Bil started by saying that he’d be sharing about how to know when you’re getting directions from God, I sat up a little straighter and pulled my notepad closer. After the punchline of his joke, I could hardly sit still.
In that instant, I knew this message was just for me – a specific answer to a question I hadn’t yet found the courage to ask.
Watch for yourself.
Oh. My. Goodness. Listening to the message again right now still gives me the chills.
. . . and it gets better.
Two weeks have passed since then, and the more I study and pray, the more I’m convinced that my purpose involves sharing with you in specific ways. I can’t quite put it into words yet, but I know now that my hardships (even the self-imposed ones) and suffering weren’t in vain. In their extremes, I learned something valuable. It’s not polished yet, but the jewel is there.
So, what does all this mean for you?
Everything. I believe your treasure is in your story too. I believe that you’re supposed to find it, polish it, and let it shine.
Together, we’ll light the world in His glory.