Under every photo in my senior yearbook is a quote each of us apparently said a lot during our undergraduate years. Mine was, “It’s my life!” Those were the salad days of women’s liberation, and I was about to graduate — my diploma, a key to independence. I remember sitting on the radiator in front of the dorm’s sixth-floor window, as I looked out over the city of Syracuse, watching hundreds of urban lights poking the night sky. The twinkling world, I believed, was, literally, at my feet. It was my life and my time, and the last thing on my agenda was marriage.
I was considering joining the United States navy. (The uniforms were prettier than the army’s and I liked being around water.) I looked forward to travel and hoped for different postings because I like change. I was definitely making my plans without considering for an instant what God would want me to do.
I’ve since discovered that when we walk by our sight and not by faith, not open to what God wants, we often walk into walls.
My wall was a dead leopard.
My father was a Provost Marshall in India during World War II. He was part of the China, Burma, India (CBI) campaign, and I remember many war stories he shared (not appropriate for a church’s blog).
He did like to hunt, and to his credit, later said if he had to do it over again, he would hunt with a camera and not a gun. But people weren’t as evolved in those days, and there is a photo of Dad posing with the leopard he had killed. It was his war trophy, which became a rug, complete with massive head, fangs, and claws attached to four outstretched fur appendages.
My father saw a rug. My mother saw a fur coat. After 18 years, with my father’s agreement, Mom marched into Projansky-Held furriers on East Avenue with the beast tucked under her arm.
“It’s a rug, lady and we can’t turn it into a coat, but…”
Things were afoot; God was moving. My plans had hit a wall and I had no clue how they were about to change.
At that time, a young man had stopped by in search of a leopard pelt, but not just any pelt. He wanted one complete with head, fangs, and claws. He was a carefree bachelor and owned a Jaguar XKE, so, of course. the need for a leopard pelt made perfect sense to him. Now, what were the chances? Really, this was far more than co-incidence, but the story gets better.
My parents agreed to sell the young man the pelt and loaned him my father’s trophy photo so he could make a copy. On the one weekend I was home from school, I answered the phone. The man was calling to return the photo. And that’s how I met my husband. And yes, “Clyde,” as we named him, is safely stored away at home.
Although joining the Navy was an honorable choice, I veered off course when I hit that wall and fell in love with this fascinating man. God’s will is sovereign and will be done, but isn’t it far better when we first seek his will for our lives? How much time, effort, and even money, do we waste when we ignore that soft voice of the Holy Spirit? How do we even learn to hear that soft voice and recognize it for what it is? It was not His will that I join the navy. I didn’t know it then, but the seeds of His plan for me stretched all the way back to a war that raged before I was born.
It took me years to learn that unless I walk by faith, I will continue to walk into walls, and try to force outcomes that are not good for me. Now I know that God has my back. I trust Him with my life. When I make decisions without praying for God’s wisdom, I make my life harder and unproductive. When I stop and pray first, I can see aspects of my situation that I had not seen before. Moving within His Kingdom rule produces wisdom, and outcomes that glorify God while they bless me.
I finally discovered how Proverbs 3:5-6 marries perfectly with 2 Corinthians 5:7: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths,” SO THAT YOU WILL “Walk by faith, not by sight.”
There is no way this Vision 2020 Campaign will evolve outside of God’s sovereign will. We will be amazed when we look with eyes of faith at everything God will have accomplished through us. No doubt, some ideas may drastically change, but we can look forward to all the grace He is waiting to bestow on His people of faith.
We may be thinking rug, or coat, but He may have gold in mind.