Challenged Expectations - How God Uses Disruption Along The Way

Challenged Expectations - How God Uses Disruption Along The Way
By Rod Dixon

Several of my friends have experienced what I call major career disruptions in the past year or two. They were cruising along, happily pursuing the work they felt God had called them to – some in ministry and others in the commercial sector. Then, suddenly and apparently without warning, the rug gets yanked out from under them resulting in a crisis that impacts them on many levels. In some cases, this was caused by the loss of a job and in other cases, a decision to leave a job after a growing sense that there were much more important things to be focused on. Much has been written about the latter in the context of pursuing a long-neglected calling or other more meaningful endeavors.

In the course of walking along side them, I couldn't help recognize the parallels with my own life experiences. As a family, we have spent more time than I can calculate "wandering in the wilderness" after abrupt changes in direction and dramatically closed doors. Life has been filled with very rich experiences punctuated by seasons of very intense self-examination before the Throne of Grace. For men, such experiences are especially challenging. They produce a crisis of faith, a crisis of personal identity and a crisis of self-worth as a man. The following is excepted from an email I wrote to one friend recently:

“There are no easy answers for those who are going through what you are facing right now so I'll spare you any true, but trite-sounding quotes from scripture. (The last thing I wanted to hear from well-intentioned people who seem to have never faced a challenge in their lives was a paraphrase of Romans 8:28). There are many lessons on trials in scripture where we learn some things about their purpose to build strength of character and endurance. Knowing this offers small comfort in the middle of the trials. Experiencing those fruits and their benefits generally only comes later, when distance and time allow for objective reflection.

I can't say that I know a large number of people who have gone through repeated cycles of feeling like you have "arrived" in your pursuit of God's calling only to have the rug suddenly and unexpectedly yanked out from under you, but that has been our experience about every 3 or 4 years. In one way or another God never allows us to really settle into anything for much longer than that. Each time it happens, we end up reevaluating and resetting our goals, redefining our very identities and launching into a new and always uncertain direction. It's made more difficult by the perception that everyone around you seems to be cruising along on a super highway heading straight to the celestial city with not so much as a flat tire along the way. (“Perception” and “seems” are the operative words here).

We have learned to increasingly focus on our identity as children of God, recipients of all His promises of mercy and grace and to accept the reality of disruption as part of God's purpose for us. I personally have grown comfortable in understanding that, "I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior and ever since my life has been great..." is nothing more than a Christian fairy tale for those who are actually called to be warriors for the Kingdom of God. The hardest part of what you are going through is how to reconcile your expectations with your experience so you have to learn to weigh your experiences against the standards of scripture and not let your expectations go. Resist the natural temptation of comparing your life experiences with how God is or seems to be dealing in the lives of others - it's never helpful. 

The promises of God are true and real and worthy of your trust. Who you are as His child and who He is as your Heavenly Father is locked up for eternity in His declared will and eternal purposes for you as revealed in scripture and by the Holy Spirit. Finally, I have leaned heavily over they years on Ephesians 2:10 "
We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared before hand that we should walk in them." I can't tell you the hours I've spent meditating on and praying through that verse, trying to understand the depths of it's message, implications and application in my own life. It speaks to God's intentionality in creating us, preparing and equipping us and putting us where we need to be in order for us to fulfill those works He created us for.

It's hard, but I am working toward embracing the cycles of disruption with a sense of anticipation about the adventure that lies ahead. And always, always striving to recognize the divine appointments to be an encouragement and blessing to those whose paths cross mine along the way.”