A pit cleared in my stomach where my dinner had been. I stood alone in LAX, my life packed between two suitcases and nobody waiting for me on the other side of a 17-hour flight. All that was left to ask myself between bouts of nausea was, “What have I done?”
For the past year I had been determined to attend Avondale University College in Australia. I saw this not just as an option for my upcoming semester, but as something I had to do. The timing was wrong, there was a chance my credits wouldn’t transfer, and I only had a month to get everything in order. However, I was sure down to my core, this was where I needed to be. My mom, having a front-row seat to this whole ordeal kept telling me, “If God wanted you there, He would have made a way.” Ignoring the signs and wanting to believe God was simply telling me to try harder, I eventually fumbled my way through it all.
It wasn’t until I was at the airport that I got the feeling I had just made the biggest mistake of my life. Knowing that trials make us stronger, and God allows things to be in our way so we can exercise our faith, I took everything going wrong in my plans as God closing doors that I needed to figure out how to open.
Our humanity tests us regularly with questions such as Am I trying to follow God‘s will? or Am I trying to get God to bless my will? When do we begin to recognize God’s plan for us and become willing to listen to Him speak through the circumstances of life?
I asked Pastor Rich Carlson, the chaplain at Union College for more than three decades, how he distinguishes his own will from God’s. “I’m hesitant to say it, but I’m not sure He has a will in every little detail of our lives.” He goes on to explain, “Only I know my heart and can say if I’m following my will rather than God’s will. I ask myself, and if I am really being honest about it, the answer is I am usually trying to get God to bless my will. We are human. I would always rather have what I want, even something short-term, if that means I’m getting what I desire most.”
Ellen G. White says, “Each morning consecrate yourselves and your children to God for that day … Lay all your plans before God, to be carried out or given up, as His providence shall indicate” (Steps to Christ, p. 70).
Chaplain Carlson continued, “Dedicating your daily life opens up the possibility that you are actively allowing His desire to affect you. There’s a huge difference between sitting back and saying God, whatever you want me to do, just tell me and I will do it, and laying your plans at His feet to be used.”
In the end, were my plans in accordance with God’s will? I had the best semester of my life at Avondale. I lived a lifetime of adventure in a few simple months: weekends in the city, racing to the beach once classes were done, kangaroos and wallabies at every turn, and the pain of leaving behind the people I grew to love. Everything turned out more amazing than I could have ever planned myself, my life was impacted by every person I came into contact with, and I hope they say the same of me. However, this doesn’t mean my plans were inherently blessed by God. All I know is that God chose to bless me in my shortcomings, in more ways than I would have ever known to ask.
“For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known” (1 Cor. 13:12, NKJV).
Gabrielle Nappi is a junior at Union College majoring in English with an emphasis in writing and speaking and a minor in communication.