By Chad Burns
When I was in grad school, the Lord brought an opportunity to direct a feature film called “Pendragon,” so I quit grad school to do that.
We prayed and sought the Lord’s blessing and His leading and we were so hoping our first movie was going to be a big success.
I had punched all the boxes, done all the things I was supposed to do, and God had not kept His end of the bargain. I was broken and bitter, deeply in debt and painfully single, all the things that somebody in their mid-20s experiences very keenly, but the Lord used that to bring me to just the right place.
My grad school advisor graciously agreed to take me back into the research group, but I couldn’t afford the single-unit housing I’d lived in previously. I feel so strongly that this was a God-moment because there was a group of guys who were all involved with Cru and they invited me to come live with them for $200 a month, which was exactly what I could afford.
It was great to have Cru missionaries loving on me and mentoring guys who in turn were mentoring me! It’s fantastic just to have somebody else who can get in your kitchen and rattle the pots around, really help the Holy Spirit to convict you of sin and spur you on to where the Spirit’s leading you.
When the Lord brings the opportunity to be in that kind of a discipling relationship, seize the moment.I had been caught up with the externals and what I was doing and trying to earn God’s favor, but the Lord used these guys to love on me and strongly renovate my faith through a couple of key ideas.
I had been looking to find my significance, in my work, my actions and my performance. I defined myself by these things. It was crushing when I failed and incredibly empty when I was successful. Jesus wanted me to rest in His finished work and in the identity I have in Him.
Paul talks a lot about “putting on Christ,” which was a revolutionary concept for me. As long as I was worshipping at these other alters, looking for the significance and identity that I so deeply craved, I was never going to find it. Jesus wanted to be there for me anyway.
Relationship Over Success
The process of the journey is the most important part. I used to think that if God would just illuminate the path like a runway to show me which way He wanted me to go in life, then I would be so happy to follow Him. But, I really believe that He makes life the way it is because He wants us to seek a relationship with Him. That’s not just part of the process, it’s like an incredibly integral and important central piece of that puzzle.
I look back often at how it was not the way I wanted that story line to work out, but how thankful I am that God didn’t answer the prayers the way I wanted. It’s been a very fun journey because we’ve seen the Lord answer our prayers differently than we hoped and we’ve also seen Him very specifically answer exactly what we were praying for just in the nick of time.