by Desi Renken
Have you ever been driving and arrived at your destination only to realize you have no recollection of how you got there? Chances are it’s a familiar route you’ve taken and sometimes you zone out and default to autopilot. While I’ve had moments of this while driving, I’ve also had moments of this with Jesus. Let me explain…
For years, I worked a job that I hated. It started out as a 1 to 2-year gig, 3 years tops, or so I thought when I started. I took this job because it was a way for me to make some money until I made it as a singer/songwriter. My name was going to be in lights and I was going to make it BIG. I had a dream and felt like God gave me the green light to chase it. Before I knew it, 1 year turned into 2, 2 to 3, 3 to 4… and so on. What the heck? This was not the plan. What is going on?
Strangely enough, anytime I would talk to God about my circumstances, I always felt peace about where I was at. Now I didn’t want to be there, but I knew I was where God wanted me to be and that I needed to go through this. What I didn’t know was how long it was going to last and did I mention I had a plan that wasn’t being fulfilled? I tried explaining to God that I wasn’t getting any younger and we were already behind schedule, but He didn’t seem to pay any mind to that.
Almost all our conversations consisted of me asking, “Can we be done with this yet? I don’t understand why I’m still here. God, this wasn’t the plan. Are you still there? Did you forget about me?” What I didn’t realize at the time was that my character was being tested. Who was I when no one was watching? Was I willing to give my all when I could get by on 70%? But now I’m starting to see some of the recurring themes God was taking me through. Would I trust Him even if I didn’t understand what He was doing? Would I still give my life to Him if He didn’t use it the way I had planned?
I would like to tell you that I passed this test of character with flying colors. That I dug deep and fought every bad attitude off with Scripture and worship. But the truth is, I went on autopilot at times. I didn’t know how to deal with it because I didn’t like the answers I had for those questions. I also didn’t understand why God didn’t want to use me the way I wanted to be used and why my plan wasn’t good enough. With each passing year and being nowhere close to where I thought I should be, I was hurt, angry and frustrated.
That’s when I found my autopilot setting. When I didn’t want to deal with these negative feelings, I switched to autopilot. It was easier to stuff it away and tell myself to deal with it later. But there was a problem, later never came. I continued to bury it deeper and deeper until over time I became numb on the inside and blinded by the day to day mundane.
I didn’t see the point in talking about it. God knew right where I was, He knew I didn’t like it and nothing changed no matter how hard I tried. Proverbs 13:12 says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” My heart was sick and I didn’t know how to fix it. I felt betrayed, I felt like I couldn’t trust God. I felt like He led me to this place and left me there to die. I knew that wasn’t true, but it felt so real.
Over time, I began to realize that my hope was in this plan I had made for my life and not in God. So, of course, my heart got sick, of course my hope was deferred. I was placing it in the wrong things. “If I could just have… then I’d be happy”. God showed me if I fill in the ellipsis with anything other than Him, I’ll be miserable every time. Once I realized this, my prayer changed to… “God, don’t give me what I want unless it’s what You want. Sometimes I think I know best, but the truth is, I don’t. You know what’s best. Please show me what You want me to do, even if it means staying right where I am and working this job for the next 30-40 years. I trust You.”
Although nothing about my circumstances changed over the next couple of years, something in my heart did. I didn’t feel hopeless anymore, I didn’t feel heavy from the disappointment of not living up to my plan. Over time, the hurt, anger, and frustration I felt began to subside and my heart began to heal. I knew God was in control and that if He wanted me anywhere else, He’d make a way. Then in December of 2017, I found myself at Cape Christian as the new Worship Pastor asking, “God, how did we get here?”
While I’m thankful for some aspects of autopilot, it did become my default setting for handling difficult situations. It’s good to power through at times and not be overcome with emotion, that’s part of being an adult. Life requires us to keep it together for the sake of our jobs, families, etc. But we must find time to sort out our feelings with Jesus. If I would’ve stayed on autopilot, I never would’ve gotten to the root of the problem, because I didn’t even know it was there.
Autopilot did help me get through a difficult season in my life, but it also caused me to avoid dealing with certain feelings. I’m learning to recognize the moments I need to power through as well as the ones where it’s ok to fall apart, because it’s all about balance.
Ecclesiastes 3:1 reads, “There is a time for everything…”
Difficult situations will always be apart of life. Luckily we have a gracious Savior who will patiently guide us through them all, if we let Him.
Desi Renkin is the Worship Pastor at Cape Christian and a gifted musician and singer. She leads with a passion and authenticity that is born out of her love for Jesus. She is sweet, fun and hilarious to be around with a heart of compassion that moves her to lead with grace and strength. I know you will love the perspective of her being a “church kid” as she shares where she is at on her journey to becoming beloved.