Thursday, July 17, 2014

God's Plans Will Prevail

In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps(Proverbs 16:9)  

Last year at this time, I was working outside my home doing medical transcription. My life was pretty routine, and I had a schedule I was used to. What a difference a year makes! I never imagined I would have an accident, be in a wheelchair for several months, and lose my job and my health insurance due to the length of recovery time my injury required. 

Prior to my injury, I had been praying I would be able to quit my job and work from home full time as a writer. Many times I felt God leading me in that direction, but I was too afraid to get out of my comfort zone. Fear stopped me in my tracks, and I continued to remain in a work environment that suffocated my creativity. My journal entries during that time stated how convicted I felt as I left my mountain home for work each day. The birds would be singing, and I would imagine sitting by the pond with my notebook writing while surrounded by the sounds of nature. I had ideas for books and articles that got pushed aside, because I was too mentally exhausted after typing medical reports all day long to come home and write. 

While I enjoyed medical transcription, writing is what I'm passionate about. Several of my close friends urged me to make the break and go home and write. I was doing freelance writing on the side for nearly two years prior to my injury, but worried it would never work out if I gave up the security of my job and health insurance. 

Last November, when I fell and broke my ankle, I knew I would never be returning to my job again. This was weeks before I found out they would not hold my position until my recovery was complete. It was just a gut feeling I had. Two of my friends said the exact same thing when they heard about my fall: "Joni, I think this is God's way of getting you out of your comfort zone and sending you home to write." I had to agree. My friends can testify to the fact that I had been praying about this for a long time before I fell. I felt a sense of peace about things from the beginning of my accident. 

Around the beginning of January, I realized I was content and happier than I had been in a long time, even though I was housebound in my wheelchair. I was working on some writing projects each day, and found I was having less flare-ups of my chronic health conditions. I believe this was related to the reduction in stress that comes from doing something you love.

A few weeks later, when I found out my company was terminating my position, I once again felt okay about it. I remember getting off of the phone with my boss and picking up my Bible. I said, "Okay, God, show me what to do. It's just us now." A few days prior to learning my job was ending, I had a dream that I was walking hand-in-hand with God through the mountain. I had a sense of pure freedom, and he continued to impress this feeling of total release and freedom on my heart. In this dream flowers were blooming all around, and the scenery was beautiful. I sensed God telling me to write for him and to get all the things he had been placing on my heart for years written. I couldn't shake the feeling of freedom in this dream. It was a feeling of being released from some sort of bondage. Now, whether it was just a dream or a message from God, I can't be certain. However, I felt led to journal every detail of the dream as soon as I woke up, and I did. I've printed a copy out that I carry in my Bible. I read it when I start to feel fear creeping back into my life or when I begin to doubt my ability to make a living with my writing. 

I'm not saying it has been a walk in the park to start writing full time and deal with trying to find good health insurance. You have good and bad days with every line of work. It can be scary financially when you give up the security of a guaranteed paycheck. It can be unsettling to think that your entire livelihood depends on being able to secure enough writing work to pay the bills each month. I finally realized I needed to trust in God to provide my needs. If this is truly his will for me, and I think it is, he will open doors when needed for new writing opportunities, and he has. 

The benefits of working at home doing what I love outweigh the negative stuff. I have not set an alarm clock since last November. I set my own schedule every day. I can take a day off if I need to without getting points against me or an occurrence. I can work at a slower pace or go take a nap when health problems flare up. If the weather is nice, I can choose to work outside by the pond. I can work in the middle of the night if I can't sleep. I dress comfortably, and I enjoy the scent of dinner cooking in the slow cooker while I'm in my home office. I love working outdoors with the birds singing. Early mornings are often spent on the little dock by the pond with my tablet (photo above) jotting down ideas for a chapter in a book or an article I'm working on. I feel incredibly blessed to be able to experience this new adventure God has given me. 

Looking back over my journals, I realize how fearful I was to make the break out of my comfort zone and quit my job. I guess God knew I never would if he left it up to me. Throughout scripture we see God intervening when people needed a shove out of their comfort zones. Jonah is a good example of this. God wanted him to go to Nineveh, but he didn't want to go. Jonah tried to run the other way and ignore what God had told him. He ended up thrown overboard from a ship and spent three days in the belly of a great fish that God sent to swallow him. Later on, Jonah did indeed go to Nineveh when God asked him. Running from God can have uncomfortable consequences. 

Looking back over the journal entry below, I see I was like Jonah, trying to run from what God was telling me to do.  

I realize I'm in my fifties now, and I'm beginning to see just how short life really is. I wonder why I continue to get up at 4:00 each morning and rush off to a stuffy office building to spend eight hours tied to a computer screen typing medical reports. I hate the stress of production, as we have to meet a certain line count every hour. I feel like a bird in a cage. I feel like I am wasting my time. I feel like a robot, just going through the motions each day. And I wonder just how close we are to the end times. According to Bible prophecy, we are close. People need to hear the gospel or be encouraged in their Christian walk, and here I sit typing medical reports. I long to be at home writing for God. So many stories and ideas rush through my mind during the work day. I jot them down in my notebook, always distracted by where my heart is telling me I should be. Yet, I am scared. Afraid of all the "what ifs" that nag at me. Change is a scary thing. I wonder how many people die, secure in their comfort zones, driven by fear, doing jobs they hate. I wonder if I will.

I'm thankful God's plans prevail over our human emotions of fear and insecurity. Had God not intervened, instead of working outdoors by the pond, I would still be stuck in a stuffy office building. Fear is the opposite of faith. When we know God is impressing something on our hearts, but we continue to stay in our comfort zones, we are not trusting God. I truly believe my "accident" was no accident at all. I believe it was a divinely inspired intervention to take me where God wanted me to go. He had given me many warnings and I ignored them all. 

What is God telling you to do? Are you trusting him with your life or running the other way? 

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