For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back from your captivity. Jeremiah 29:11-14a.
The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
It is a blessing to enjoy reading the Bible, praying, and singing during praise and worship to the Most-High God in my home or church. In fact, I can go outside of my house, read the Bible, pray, and sing on any public domain I choose without repercussion. People may not like it, but the First Amendment is our platform for exercising religious freedom.
Unfortunately, many individuals never consider those who will never own a Bible or secretly worship God at the risk of exclusion from their families and society. Even worse is facing long-term imprisonment for renouncing the prevailing traditional or pagan worship and proclaiming belief in God. First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 1 Timothy 2:1-2
The history of persecution for serving the “Christian God” is recorded in the Bible. Who can forget Saul, the hunter of Christians? Only God could redeem such a diabolical man and transform into the Apostle Paul. This devout Man of God actively wrote instructions for the churches and encouraged Christians to keep moving forward as they strive for the mark.
Will we experience persecution for serving God? Yes. Currently, some individuals are facing exclusion and isolation in their homes because they have chosen Christianity over their traditional or cultural religions. Consider the expansion of diversity that causes conflict between God’s standards and the world’s acceptance. What about the office parties or gatherings that we cannot attend because of the godly standards we uphold?
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. 1 Peter 4:12-14
We must take advantage of the freedom we enjoy: studying the Bible, praying without ceasing, witnessing to others, attending church, and watching virtual services without censorship. Please pray daily for those suffering because they accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior.
Humanity shares a common trait, and that is to aggressively pursue the desires of the heart. We desire the dream house, career, vehicle, lifestyle, and above all, the forever relationship with the perfect soul-mate who will help us achieve our goals. So what is wrong with wholeheartedly pursuing your dreams? Nothing at all! But there are exceptions.
When I decided to start a tutoring business for nursing students, I had a firm knowledge base of nursing theory and clinical practice. Even so, I had to teach entry-level students critical thinking skills and nursing judgment who were unable to choose the correct nursing action for the given patient scenario. On the exams, they were presented with four possible answers [with two being distractors], yet, they always chose the incorrect answer. Nursing programs are based on guided study, lectures, textbooks, and clinical practice. But the root of the problem was their lack of reasoning skills. Please know that Nurses do not have leeway. The wrong decision always compromises the patient’s safety.
Following the desires of the heart:
The Reality: The primary issue is not our desire to dream or developing strategies to achieve a fulfilling life. What happens when Plan A hits roadblocks? Most of us have not developed Plan B because we never anticipated failure of our initial plans. You may think, “that is a pessimistic outlook to develop short and long-term goals, and also think of developing alternate plans just in case things don’t work out.” Whether we choose to embrace this concept or to disregard it, the uncertainties of life are sure to happen.
Teaching the common sense of nursing was challenging, but I was confident that I could complete the task. However, after extended research, I realized that I was not equipped to tutor anyone but myself. So, I changed my short-term goal of immediately registering my business. I became a full-time student, enrolled in online courses for teaching adult learners and Business Management classes. Plan A was developed with immediately following the desire of my heart, which left me without the necessary skills. Developing Plan B was worth it. I enjoyed 12 years of helping others to reach their goal of becoming a nurse.
Anticipate and prepare for the roadblocks or the detours when pursuing your dreams. Our excitement often prevents us from seeking much-needed professional advice, completing the necessary research, and gaining additional knowledge. We can never know enough! Approaching our goals with the mindset that we are on a life-long learning curve equips us to meet and overcome the challenges of achieving our goals.
The consequences of following the heart and disregarding professional advice:
One of my worst experiences happened because I did not listen to the physician who told me not to accept the Branch Manager position at a Home Health agency. His main concern was regarding the business operations of that particular company because it was well-known for its shady reputation of cover-ups and manipulation of actual circumstances. I will never forget these words, “Sonya, you are a Christian, I cannot imagine you compromising your belief in God to participate in illegal activity.”
Two months into the job, I knew that I had to get out. After the management conference call with the corporate office, the words of warning echoed in my mind. Divine intervention to the rescue! God helped me in a time of trouble. The regional Nursing Director visited my branch a couple days after the call to relay a corporate decision. Since I was a Registered Nurse, I would have to assume the dual role of Branch Manager and Clinical Director effective immediately. As she walked out of my office, I closed the door, asked a prayer of forgiveness [for disobedience], and gave my resignation letter.
Truthfully, we cannot anticipate most of life’s detours. But when we refuse to acknowledge that our plans may not work out, then the D’s hit hard: The fruits of Disappointment are Discouragement, Distress, and Defeat. Some individuals are resilient and bounce back by immediately developing new and improved strategies, but that is not typical. Our emotions can easily tilt to an unhealthy place when facing adversity. But we have a solution: For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11
It has taken most of my life to give in and present my plans to God first. Finally, I realize that I need to have faith and believe in God’s promises. My prayer has changed to “Not my will, but your will be done” because I have surrendered my life to Jesus Christ. The trials and sorrows still happen, but not due to failed plans. When God reveals His plans for you, there is no Plan B! God can never fail, nor does He change. His Word is Absolute!
Bible verses: Still, I am certain to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait patiently for the LORD; be strong and courageous. Wait patiently for the LORD! Psalm 27:13-14