Thoughts of a messed up Christian saved by God's grace

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Choose your own adventure

   When I was a kid, there were some books that became very popular: "choose your own adventure" books. Even the ever popular Hardy Boys series did several books using that style of writing along with Nancy Drwe. If you aren't familiar with the books, I'll give an example: "The book proceeds as normal at first, Then as Nancy Drew and Frank and Joe Hardy are about to explore a deserted building that may have needed evidence in, a suspect drives by. If you think they should check the building out, go to page 26. If you think they should pursue the suspect, go to page 35." The books usually have several places that you can choose between two different courses for the characters to take, ending with a couple of different outcomes.

  I was never content to read the book that way. I'd bookmark the page where the choice was given and go back later to try the other choice, bookmarking several pages so I could explore all of the options.

  Wouldn't it be great if life was like that? Imagine if you could select one course for your life - say take that certain job - and follow it out to see how your life would end up. If you aren't happy with that, or if it goes bad;  just back up to where you picked that course in your own story, and try the other option.

  There were a couple of problems with backtracking on the choose your own adventures to try the other courses:

1) Sometimes the other course wasn't as interesting and I didn't like the outcome as well as the original that I chose.

2) I usually goofed up and confused and the story got messed up and didn't make sense

  But I still liked them, and was ecstatic when they brought them out in the never ending Hardy Boys series.

  The last few years, I have gotten reflective and contemplative during the month of May. It is the month that I turn another year older. As I have reflected and contemplated, it almost seems like my life is a choose your own adventure story with someone else choosing the next course of action to take. I want to go to page 33, but wind up at page 45 wondering how on earth I got there.

  When you are young, life does seem like a choose your own adventure with you in the driver's seat. But as I quickly learned, I don't always choose right; and all too often I picked the wrong course in this book I am writing. The adventures I wanted to choose turned out to be the wrong ones.

  Now here I am, 23 days away from turning another year older and am wondering where the years went. I feel like I have accomplished nothing, and my dreams and wishes lie smashed as a sandcastle on the sands after a wave has crashed onto the shore.

 Even at my best, I feel that I lead too self-centered of a life and am left with the constant feeling there is something more I need to be doing, but have no clue what. From the chapter I am at in my story, the choose your own adventure thing isn't looking that great anymore. If I could only go back to one of those places in my life and choose differently....... but that is not an option we are given. Once we set our course in this adventure we call life, there is no going back and changing everything that resulted from that choice.

  But there is still hope even though we can't go back to the page in our story where we chose the course that we did to choose another. It has taken me this many chapters in my story (or years in my life, if you prefer) to come to a few realizations and truths:

  It doesn't matter what our story has been, or the choices we have made; God can our story and write an ending that we never could have imagined. He can make something beautiful out of the messy scrawls and wrong turns we have taken.

  It doesn't matter what we have done or where we have been, God still has a plan for our lives and can use anyone in His work and Kingdom.

  God's grace and mercy are truly never ending and is so vast that no human mind can comprehend it. His grace can cover the mess we have made out of our lives.

  Choosing your own adventure really isn't that great after all. Handing the choices over to God and letting Him guide us to what He knows is best and what He wants for our lives will never end in disappointment. If we do His will and follow His plan, we will never be wishing we could go back and change things.

  The devil likes to point out all I have done in my life, and how horrible my struggles are compared to the other Christians at church. He loves to tell me God can never use me and I can never do anything worthwhile for God at this point. I am too old, too tired, too messed up, too.....everything.

  These last several weeks have been challenging: an unexpected hospital stay, 2 unexpected diagnoses that have made life challenging, up and down emotions about it all, doctor visits, bills......and now the depressing political news that means Hillary Clinton will most likely be our next president. This isn't what I would have chosen for my life or for our country,  in regards to politics; but God is in control of my life and this whole world. He can bring good out of bad, and get beauty from ashes.

 As I start this 47th chapter in my story, I want God to write the story. I don't want to choose my own adventure anymore, but I want Him to direct me on which course to take. I want to find His will for my life and stay in His will in this 47th chapter and throughout the rest of the chapters in my story, how many ever there are.

 There is hope for all of us, no matter what our story has been or what choices we have made as we tried to write it. He always knows best, and will never let us down. Bring it on, chapter 47.

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