God’s will or your big dream? Which one would you choose?
It still feels like yesterday. With tears dripping down my cheeks, I held another rejection letter. I had cried so hard that day, the kind of ugly cry that leaves you looking like a morning zombie with mascara running down your nose and face. At that time, my big dream was to be a writer. I wanted to write books. Travel the world. Speak in big venues. Share the Gospel with the masses. I believed I could change the world for Jesus. But after submitting more proposals than I can count and receiving more messages than I wanted to read. Messages like: Sorry, but this isn’t what we’re looking for. Unfortunately, your platform is too small for us. Nora, you need to live a little more before you are ready to write anything like this. I was tired, discouraged, and disappointed. My big dream was dying, yet I held on to it with a tight, clenched fist until….a conversation that changed everything.
In my first year of graduate school, I wrestled with the idea of changing my career path because my big dream of becoming a writer wasn’t working out. However, I needed to figure out what I wanted to do. All I knew at that moment was I had a Communications degree, a love for writing, and a unique way of relating to people. The funny thing is people often assumed that I was majoring in education, which wasn’t a wrong guess since I loved working with children. My mentor then was the chairman of the education department at my university. In some ways, fate’s idea put my mentor and me together. She was the queen of education to me, and if there was anyone I could talk to about my secret, hidden desire to teach, it was her. We were sitting there, talking, and I was grumbling that my dream of writing was over.
“Mrs. K, something doesn’t feel right! I am at a Bible college, learning to help people grow spiritually. Writing would be my way to do that. But then there’s always this voice in the back of my head whispering what about teaching? I don’t know why I would go backward?”
“Nora, why not teach? You don’t have to go into elementary education, but there are other avenues of teaching. Have you ever thought of TESOL?”
I looked at her, baffled. “What’s TESOL?”
“It’s teaching English to speakers of other languages. I mean, think about it. Think about the people you’re mentoring right now.”
It only took a second, but the faces that popped into my head were from China, Korea, and Ukraine. Friends I had the honor to share my life with. “You have a point, Mrs. K., except that I’m clueless about teaching English. Sometimes I can barely speak English myself,” I responded.
Then she said something that changed everything for me. “Nora, I’ve taught teachers how to teach all my life. Teaching isn’t just about knowing how but also about having the heart to teach. You have the heart of a teacher. Getting the training well, that’s the easy part.”
That was one of the times in my life when the world stood still. It felt as if the Lord Himself tapped me on the shoulders, turned me to face Him, and said, “Stop looking for bigger and start looking for my ME – My will is always better!”
The better He was calling me to wouldn’t look like an auditorium filled with thousands of faces. Instead, it would look like a classroom of sometimes five, maybe ten students filled with eager hearts to learn a language that would open so many doors of possibilities. The better He was calling me to didn’t require me to write the next bestseller; instead, it required me to walk down the hall from the cafeteria this conversation took place and fill out an application to enroll in a TESOL certificate program. The better He was calling me to was not about my big dream of making an impact but more about my obedience and surrender to His will for my life, no matter the size of impact.
In Matthew 6:9-10, Jesus models for His followers how our prayers should reflect His will over our wants. The fact that Jesus begins with “Our Father who is in heaven hallowed it be your name” reminds us that the One we follow is the One who is supreme and rules on earth and should be worshiped and adored. Therefore, obeying Him is a form of worship. So Jesus follows this with, “your kingdom come, you will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Because to follow Jesus is to be a kingdom follower. Kingdom followers not only live for the King, but they live in surrender to His sovereignty and pray for His will to be done! On the other end of surrender, we find not only His will for our lives, but we also find Him, and He is always better than our wildest dreams – no matter how big or small!