The mist rose over the water on a perfectly calm lake on a crisp autumn morning. It’s so beautiful, I thought. And I wasn’t supposed to be here. In fact if the year of 2017 went as “planned” I was to be overseas navigating a new culture and winding through the busy streets of Northern Europe. I made a move like expected to, but instead I moved back to a familiar city and the opposite of far from home.
Does life ever go the way it’s supposed to? Rarely. And I’m deeply grateful.
God’s grace can manifest itself in different ways – for me this year it was in God saying “no”, when I was asking, no begging, for him to say “yes”. Yes to a relationship. Yes to moving overseas. I went overseas in February and instead of affirming my plans to move there it dramatically re-directed me towards moving back home. Instead of the birth of the relationship I was hoping for, God led me into a summer of relational silence where I was confronted with things that were deeply buried in my heart. Questions about God’s goodness, and my worth and value. Questions about belonging.
The silence in my life gave extra space to just sit in God’s presence. I could hear things that previous seasons of busyness and stress subdued and hid. Silence in my heart allowed me to hear God’s voice and his invitations to come back to him.
God often strips away things in our life to make more room for him.
Later this summer I ended up at summer camp, serving as a camp counselor. In God’s perfect timing and graciousness he blessed me with healing and closure from that non-existent relationship I was hoping for. I swung in a hammock in Muskoka without any contact to the outside world, basked in the sun with my Bible, and heard from God. His love for me. His care. His provision and goodness. Swung in his presence. The world spun madly on and I ran to him for comfort and rest. Physically, being a camp counselor was exhausting. Yet my heart was resting with his. He was in control and I could trust him with anything.
Why does faith at summer camp seem so simple and pure? I miss that.
Coming home I dove back into work, thinking how my move home and transition to a new job was the right decision. And it was. God foresaw things I could never see, and he knew when he led me to this decision what I would need. Safety. Security. Stability. A year to dig deeper into hurts that have laid buried in my heart for a long time. A year to pursue holistic health, change my diet and actually go to the gym.
I didn’t expect to find myself in this place, and just because it’s the right place it doesn’t make it easy.
Sometimes, even when we know we’re in the place that God has destined for us, we still grieve what could have been. We grieve what we expected God to do in our lives. We grieve what we thought we needed. A surrender and acceptance of what God gives doesn’t always prevent us from the pain of lack. A favourite writer Lore Wilbert commented on this Gift of Lack earlier this summer. That pain from the gift of lack doesn’t define us or need to control our present reality. But it can be offered back to God as more material for sacrifice (see Elisabeth Elliot for more on this).
Active faith is a daily choice to say, God this feels hard. But I’m going to trust that you are good and are leading me down the right path. Help me entrust this day to you and rely on your strength to finish what you have called me to do.
Active faith looks like just doing the next thing. Whatever that next thing is. Going to work. Folding laundry. Cooking dinner. Watering plants. One step at a time, trusting God for our daily bread and trusting that he will guide us as we cling to time. Hiding ourselves in his presence and saying: Lord your will be done in my life. Here are my expectations and dreams. Take them to do with what you will.
I didn’t expect to find myself in this place this year. It’s a good place and sometimes feels like a hard place. But that’s okay. God doesn’t promise that life is always like a box of chocolates. He promises something much better: himself in the midst of the journey.