by: Jared Etheridge
It’s funny how God works. We all have an idea of who we think God is or what He should be like, even if we don’t claim to believe in Him. The fact of the matter is, He is real, and I think we forget that sometimes. It sounds ridiculous, I know. There are times when things happen; certain situations align and I think, “There’s no way this is from God,” or “Why would He allow this to happen to me? I must have done something wrong in the past, and now I’m paying for it.” It’s different for everyone. I guess what I’m trying to say is, people have different ideas of who God is and what He should be like. What I’ve been learning about myself is that God is only real to me in the good times. I lose track of Him, or sight of Him i should say, when things aren’t going my way.
Ya see, I used to live in Virginia for 5 1/2 years. I attended college, and what should have been the happiest years of my life, ended up being the most miserable. I was so depressed, and what for? I had a home and was getting an education. I didn’t have the right to be depressed, and that in itself is depressing. I looked for God, but I wasn’t obedient. I knew what I had to do, but blew it off. I grew bitter and thought I was being punished. I just had to wait it out. I had the mindset that God had left me as a punishment. I didn’t see Him at all; I wasn’t really looking.
Sure, I went to church to keep my Christian image. I even tried to learn or create a moment to cry out to God. I thought the only way I could worship was if I felt something. I tried so hard to “feel God” and create His presence. I felt like I was on a movie set, acting and directing. I even imagined cameras on me as I acted out my scene. The extent of my scene was standing in the church pews doing absolutely nothing. Ridiculous, I know.
Needless to say, I was distracted pretty easily. But anyways, I was putting together a scene, trying to tell God how to make me feel Him. It’s confusing… I have to keep telling myself God is real. He is! I can’t create the Alpha and Omega into who I want Him to be. I can’t pretend He is some little genie here to make me feel better. When I’m done with Him, I forget His existence until things go wrong again… “Oh, God? I need you to fix my broken heart. K thanks bye.” No siree Bob! A relationship takes two to work properly. “It takes two to tango.” Worship isn’t just going to happen, at least not the way I wanted it to. If that were the case, God would be forcing it, wouldn’t He? And that wouldn’t be worship at all. I can’t tell God, “Make me happy and then I’ll worship you.” I can’t wait for me to feel “right” before I worship. True worship is knowing that He IS God, and that we are all doomed sinners, but because of his awesome, unending, never failing love, we get to have a relationship with Him and be with Him for all eternity. He loves us, and because of that we worship, no matter how we feel, or what kind of mood we are in, or how bad the worship team is (haha).
It’s important to see God working in every situation, especially the bad. It’s so easy to forget about Him in those times. Like I said before, I didn’t really seek God when I was depressed. I believed He had left me. But every little thing that happened to me was perfect. Perfect situation, perfect timing. Had none of this “stuff” happened, I never would have left Virginia. It’s so easy to see God in hindsight. It was like God was pushing me out. “Go, I don’t want you here.” I can’t really explain it. I was so discontent where I was, it wasn’t right. I had an uneasy feeling. I was just plain miserable, so I took a leap of faith and left – left without telling my folks. I didn’t tell anyone but my brothers. I knew it looked foolish and stupid, and I couldn’t explain to my parents why. It broke my heart. I couldn’t say goodbye. I didn’t know how long it’d be before I saw them again. To be honest, I still haven’t seen them. I miss them.
August 1st, Brittany and I left Virginia not knowing where to go. We had $941.71 to get us to wherever. We were scared and had nothing to do but rely on God. And boy did He show up. I won’t go into detail, but He directed us up to Oregon where He had planned for us to be from the beginning. We had so much confirmation from Him and it was clear that this is what He wanted. We’ve been in Oregon now for about 4 months, and I’ve never been so happy. I no longer feel discontent because I know God brought us here, and as long as I’m under His spout, the blessings pour out.
The Lord works in mysterious ways. Because I was creating my own image of God and how He should operate, I never thought going through depression would be part of His plan for me. But it was! God used it to push me where He wanted me to be. It took a leap of faith. People looked at our leaving as a foolish idea, I began to wonder that myself. I’m sure some thought we were running, and that God was not in our trip at all. It certainly did seem that way. But again, that would be creating your image of how God works, and I’m the guiltiest when it comes to that (remember the whole movie thing?). We need to be able to see God in every situation; to look for Him in everything. He’s the man with the master plan. Just because somethings not going according to your plan, doesn’t mean God is absent. He most definitely is not. Turn to Him, trust Him and don’t lose hope. It’s funny how God works sometimes, but His plan for you is so much better than you could imagine. Here’s to a leap of faith!