Whether we know it or not, we as Christians can fall for the misconception that there is a rubric we must follow. A clear cut pathway that must exist, guiding the steps of our Christian walk. This belief comes with the expectation that people, opportunities, and blessings will be provided when we believe God should provide them. But what if the rubric is broken? What if the timing we expected is not the timing we get? Heather Thompson-Day joins ANN InDepth hosts Jennifer Stymiest and Sam Neves to discuss her exceptional new book It’s Not Your Turn and how to navigate the confusion, and disappointment that comes when we believe we are overlooked by God.
At its heart, this misconception places the expectation of our blessings on us. If God did not open the door, we must have done something to prevent it from opening. This mindset causes a slippery slope into self doubt, shame, and work. By this logic, our lack of opportunities rests on our shoulders. We are responsible for the shame and blame of not doing enough, praying enough, working enough, or being perfect enough to earn the reward of salvation. Thompson-Day corrects this misconception by admitting she herself fell victim to this lie, saying “I went through life believing I had to achieve God.” However, she came to recognize that this was not true. “It's still difficult for me to believe that I don't have to do that. He just provides love and mercy towards me.” The very purpose of salvation is founded on the principle truth that we will never be enough, do enough, or accomplish enough to earn salvation. It is a gift given by a God who intimately understands our failures and is eager to make up the difference. He is a God, who literally died to ensure we did not have to bear that burden.
Thompson-Day reveals the best way to confront this deception is by guarding our minds. “it's not just about trying to become this super holy person that reads their word” clarifies Thompson-Day, “it's guarding your brain to respond to the attacks of the devil with the promises of God.” When trapped in the negative thought cycle that can occur when we believe God has overlooked us we can rely on His word to break the cycle and redirect our thoughts back to God’s truth. Rather than creating a self fulfilling prophecy by allowing our feelings of neglect and disappointment rule our narrative Thompson-Day implores the importance of not allowing our thoughts or feelings to rule our reality. “[Feelings] are indicators, but they cannot be in control of you because we know feelings shut down your brain, you do not think logically when you're feeling too much.” Our emotions can cause a feeling of overwhelming isolation, solidifying our dependence on the narrative we believe God should have followed. It is in these moments of wondering when it will be our turn, that we surrender our expectations.
In her book, Thompson-Day clearly points out the disillusionment that comes while we wait for God to “see us”. By this logic, God does not notice us, has intentionally or accidentally, overlooked us for the more “holy” individuals. This is far from the truth. God is incapable of overlooking those who are working for His kingdom. We place ourselves in the waiting room, thinking that we must wait for God to assign us grand purpose, however Thompson clarifies,
“If you are ever interacting with another human being, you have a purpose.” Though they may not be the purpose we planned, it is the purpose God knows we need for this season. Our responsibility must be reassigned. It is not up to us to chart our own path, or question the presence of God. God is not missing from our plans, it's that we are missing from God’s. It is the responsibility of Image Bearers to make God visible by growing where we are planted: “If people say, “where is God”, that’s an indictment on the church, and we have God to be intentional about making God visible in whatever sphere of influence we have.”
In the end, we must surrender what we think “our turn” is meant to be. The summary of our purpose is not found when the ministry launches, or the program is funded, or when we get married, or when we have kids, or that degree. We are meant to live where we are pouring life and God’s provisions onto the people in our lives. “The goal of every single Christian is to figure out how we make God visible with the field or the depth that He's given us today. It's always your turn”