When Life’s Not Turning Out Like You Expected

By on October 11, 2011

low approach lighting of person standing at edge of water at night By Marcia Moston –

“This was not the life I had pictured for myself.”- Gladys Alyward, on becoming a mule handler and foot inspector in China.

Ha! Hardly the outcome a young missionary would have envisioned for herself— and for some of us, the life we are living is not what we had expected either.

But don’t you love the possibilities with God? When He says His thoughts are not our thoughts, He means it. One of the things I delight in about His ways is not only are they full of promise, but they are often full of unusual surprises.

I’ve enjoyed re-reading some of the stories of extraordinary women such as Biddy Chambers, Gladys Alyward, and Amy Carmichael who dared to follow God even when the doors shut and the path lead over uncertain ground.

Gladys Alyward (1902-1970) wanted to be a stage actress, but after giving her life to Christ at a church meeting one night, she turned her passion toward the unsaved. When she heard about an elderly woman who had packed up and gone to China on her own because she couldn’t find anyone to go with her, Gladys knew that was where she belonged.

She enrolled in a mission society college but after three months was dismissed on grounds that she was “unqualified.” Here she was, a young woman burning with a desire to go on the mission field and tell people about Christ, but who had just flunked out of mission school.

Man may affect our plans, but what appears as detours and barricades to us, are possibilities and pathways in the hands of the Lord. He was not finished with His plans for Gladys.

The school chairman recommended Gladys take a job caring for some retired missionaries. From them, she learned an important lesson—to wait and trust God with her dream. Her question was one many of us labor over in our own lives: “How will I know when and where to go?”

The missionary couple’s answer was simple, “He will show you.”

I suspect we often want God to give us the answer all at once in a nice, tidy, clear way. We think waiting for His specific direction means just that—waiting without moving until it is all mapped out. But a moving object is easier to direct than a stationary one. And sometimes, oftentimes, we just have to do the next thing.

One night, while reading from Nehemiah, Gladys realized that although Nehemiah was a butler, not a construction worker, nor an overtly gifted leader, he went and did the task the burned his heart.

She felt the Lord ask her, “Is Nehemiah’s God your God? Then go.”

“I am not Nehemiah,” she countered.

“No, but assuredly I am his God.”

And that is, in the purest, most simple form, what we all need to remember when all else is complicated and cloudy, when others say we aren’t and we can’t:

Be still and know that I am God.—Psalm 46:10.

Alyward, Gladys.The Little Woman as told to Christine Hunter. Chicago: Moody Press, 1970.
Benge, Janet and Geoff. Gladys Alyward: The Adventure of a Lifetime. Seattle: YWAM Publishing, 1998.

Marcia Moston, winner of the 2010 Women of Faith Writing Contest and Honorable Mention recipient of the 78th Annual Writer’s Digest Competition has been a columnist for the Greenville Journal and contributor to several magazines. Her book, Call of a Coward is to be released in the spring/summer of 2012 by Thomas Nelson. Marcia and her husband live in South Carolina. Visit her at http//:marciamoston.com.

 

About mmoston

Marcia Moston, winner of the 2010 Women of Faith Writing Contest and Honorable Mention recipient of the 78th Annual Writer’s Digest Competition has been a columnist for the Greenville Journal and contributor to several magazines. Her book, Call of a Coward is to be released in the spring/summer of 2012 by Thomas Nelson. Marcia and her husband live in South Carolina. Visit her at http//:marciamoston.com.

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When Life’s Not Turning Out Like You Expected