7 Strategies For Giving Everything to God
by Katrina Hoover
This article first appeared in the January/February 2015 print edition of Daughters of Promise.
The orange and blue bath towels made it through the laundry yesterday, but they’re still in a pile waiting to be folded and put away. The few dishes I’ve used in the last days are balancing in the sink, waiting to be washed. Then, I overslept this morning, perhaps from the relief of not needing to get up at 4am.
Having finally rolled off the mattress and wrapped myself in my terry bath robe and found my slippers and seated myself at my kitchen table across from the piled laundry and teetering dishes, I realize that I have way too many things to do today in the amount of time left.
Now here’s the thing: most of us have the ability to salvage our day with a hastily written To Do List, and a little acceleration. We have moms who can harvest and preserve 100 quarts of corn in a day and still end up with a spotless kitchen by evening, or at least midnight.
But what we really want is not a way to get through this day, but a way to live this life. We want to live in such a way that we’re not frequently caught off guard. We want a plan that will overshadow our lives and direct us to purposeful movements every day rather than reactive movements to clean up the mess in which we’ve found ourselves.
How can we live in such a way that we give God every part of us?
Set your heart on knowing Christ and the Word of God. This sounds obvious, but many people live from day to day, taking their cues from their culture, their friends, and their screens. They forget that their actions will flow out of their deepest desire. If knowing and serving Christ is not the central goal of your life, no practical plan will help you glorify God.
Start a notebook, file, or binder of your life goals. Do this on a physical paper journal or a safe electronic file that you won’t be likely to lose. Plan to keep it for the rest of your life and update it each year.
In my career as a nurse, I worked briefly with Dr. Abel, a stoop-shouldered, 90-year old man who still practices medicine. At a fundraiser I asked him about his work at the nursing home.
“We have a lot of old people there,” he smiled. “I won’t be 100 yet for another ten years.”
Stupidly, I asked him if he really planned to practice until he was 100.
“Oh, yes,” he said. “After that I plan to travel half the time, and be at home half the time.”
I think he correctly interpreted my incredulous silence. Gently he said, “You have to have goals. You have to have goals to get anywhere. You might not meet all of them, but you have to have them.”
From a man who has been a doctor for decades these are wise words we all would do well to remember.
Ask for advice, but don’t be a people pleaser. Be cautious with a pursuit if the people who know you best are skeptical. Countless people make this mistake. They have a great idea (and it is a good idea!) and they want to do it in their first burst of energy. They have a few friends who support them and so they think they should do it no matter what anyone else says.
This is a set-up for disaster. God’s best for you will produce a feeling of peace for both you and the important people in your life. You never want to embark on a long journey if you know that you won’t have support when things get tough.
However, only God knows your story completely. If you have the support of the most important people in your life don’t let one person’s skepticism derail your plans.
Be courageous and willing to try new things. Countless people stay at a job they don’t like, or in a non-productive stage of their life just because they are too comfortable or too afraid to try something new. If God gave you an interest in something it’s for a reason.
If you feel the okay from God and your family to try something new, don’t sit around and expect God to dump a great opportunity in your lap. He might; but more likely, he will direct you to the right thing once you get to work doing what you can do.
Give your martial status to God. What should you do if you are not married and feel like God is calling you to a certain career or mission that requires a lot of education and time? Should you abandon marriage and motherhood, or abandon the idea? Stay-at-home moms raising their children is a wonderful, Biblical tradition many of us have been blessed enough to experience. Christian families that follow this tend to have strong families. However, the people caught in the middle are young women who feel unsure what God is expecting of them.
Don’t abandon the idea. If God laid something on your heart, He knows how to manage it as well.
Don’t accept the negative opinions about singlehood that you may find in your culture. Any life, any circumstance, can be filled with joy, according to the Bible. The Bible is right, not the conversation you overhear.
Few people regret pursuing an interest, even if they later abandon it, but many regret not pursuing one.
Being married or being single will not be the only factor in your life. Your life is not a road with only two forks. There are many, many directions you can take.
If you are pursuing a career, think of ways that you can modify it if you do have children someday. If you have children, they will be your main responsibility, but this does not mean that you will need to abandon all other interests.
Money problems can complicate an otherwise good plan. Think outside the box. I had trouble deciding between degrees in journalism and nursing. I thought the journalism career would be more exciting. My brother, who is an accountant, talked about it with me. He encouraged me to go to nursing school and be a writer on the side. For my situation that was good advice.
Nationally, college graduates are having more and more of a problem with debt load. People are realizing that it makes sense in many situations to go to cheaper technical schools rather than expensive private universities. Be sure to choose a practical career that will help you pay off your debt if you can’t pay as you go.
Every day of your life, remember what God has done for you. You will never repay the work of Jesus Christ in your heart no matter how hard you work. But what a thrill to know that you can be a piece of His kingdom coming to the world around you!
I hope these ideas encourage you without making you feel self-sufficient. If you are an efficient, smart, beautiful young woman, you are at risk for thinking you can live life on your own. Don’t make the mistake of assuming you’re invincible.
Someday something stormy may blow into your life. It will not fit any of the plans and goals you made. You will be shocked and wonder if God saw what happened. You will cry out to Him for help because you will have no other place to go.
In the dizziness of that experience you will begin to learn who God is. He is smarter than your father, kinder than your mother, more gifted than the most talented actor or singer you ever admired, more brilliant than the smartest teacher you ever had or heard. With that brilliance He will create an even greater masterpiece than the one you pictured.
You are in good hands!