For The One Who Doesn’t Know What’s Next: Kaycee Lookingbill
There is such a temptation to always be thinking about what’s next, especially when a season is coming to an end. It’s been a year and some months since I graduated from Southeastern Seminary, and my life looks nothing like I had planned.
Before graduation, I dreamed and made plans. I tried to hold on to them loosely because I knew the Lord could do abundantly more than all I could ever ask or imagine. I just didn’t think that He would do that in the one place I refused to go: home.
My last year in Raleigh was painfully hard.. I can now look back and see how God was uprooting my heart from the place I loved, but at the time, it felt like my world was falling apart. I can now see how He was protecting and guiding me, but at the moment it felt like I had done something wrong and failed.
I was mourning the loss of a dream while still living it. I cried every single day for months straight. I was applying for jobs and hearing nothing but silence in return. I didn’t understand--I had built my resume, knew all the “right people”, and worked hard. And it wasn’t enough.
I was, for the first time in a long time, aware of how much I don’t have control over my life. The Lord reminded me that I could plan all I wanted, but He was going to establish my steps (Proverbs 16:9). I was desperate for Him to move and that was exactly where He wanted me: desperate.
The expectations of others had lead me to this cycle of feeling like I had to prove myself over and over and work hard to earn a position, yet I always came up short. My heart was weary. And like the Lord does, he went straight for the heart. It was less about the next thing, and more about the state of my heart. In His lovingkindness, He put an end to the cycle as the gospel flooded in and I could breathe for the first time in a long time. It was painful, but I could breathe.
What I needed more than a job was to be reminded of the gospel. I don’t know where you’ve been or where you are in your steps of figuring out what’s next, but I know more than anything you need to be reminded of the hope we have in Christ Jesus. Because we need it every moment of every day, in all seasons.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is not one of working to earn His approval. It’s a gospel of pure grace. We were once dead in our trespasses and sins. Like dead dead.
Gloria Furman paints the best picture of just how dead we were in her book, Alive in Him, when she says,
“We need to lose the mental image of our pre-Christian state as being a drowning person helplessly flailing about in the water, hoping upon hope that someone might throw us a life preserver. Outside of Christ we are, in fact, spiritual corpses rotting on the ocean floor among the silt and sludge” (68).
That is the depth that God went to in order to rescue us.
There was nothing I could do to earn such a rescue. I didn’t have to prove myself for Him to rescue me. I couldn’t.
“BUT GOD, who is rich in mercy and because of his great love that he had for us, made us alive with Christ even though we were dead in our trespasses. You are saved by grace!” (Ephesians 2:4-5, emphasis added).
What grace! What hope! That’s what I needed to remember: What God had done for me through Christ. If He went to the depths to rescue me from death, couldn’t He handle the dreams and desires of my heart?
As I’m writing this, I’ve been in my new job for exactly 2 months, and it’s only by God’s grace I’m here. What undeserved grace. I can’t help but tear up when I think about all the Lord has done and how He rescued me. I’m humbled to get to serve in the local church as a full-time employee, something I didn’t think was going to be an option. And if I’m honest, I had begged the Lord to let me do anything else because, if this (cycle of proving myself) was ministry, I didn’t want it. I was weary from working for approval.
I thought back to my years as a college intern in youth ministry and remembered the Lord growing my heart for ministry and the joy and freedom I walked in. I longed for that again. But as I was wrestling in the waiting, He was working on my heart and working out His plan.
Did I mention that my job is at the same church the Lord used to grow my heart for ministry all those years ago? Oof. God writes such better stories for our lives than we could ever write for ourselves.
I’m so glad He wrecked my plans and cared more about the state of my heart than giving me what I wanted. I learned what it looks like to be kept by the Lord as He gently reminded me of his rich mercy and great love that was bringing healing to my weary heart. I can’t even begin to tell you all of the prayers He has answered in such intimate, detailed ways.
Take heart, dear friend. He’s writing a much better story than you can even imagine. One that leaves you shouting, “Only God!”