I was having trouble writing for what felt like quite a while just because I’ve had so much swirling around me that I’m trying to catch on to. I have made it a habit of writing about what I know God is teaching me and in the past three months I have seen Him move SO much. He has answered prayers of mine that have been on my lips for ages now. He has changed my heart in ways I didn’t expect. He has been doing so much, but I wasn’t able to process any of it. With all this moving and shifting going on, and all the things I’ve seen Him do in my life, it has taken me so long to feel like I’m holding a tiny string of what He might be teaching me.
I’m coming out of a season of stress. I spent most of Fall completely overwhelmed by my life. Work was demanding more and more from me, with four school performances to arrange within three weeks of each other, talent show auditions, preparations for the school musical, reports to write on each student. I was barely keeping up. Personally, I felt like I had never been more uncertain when I looked into my future. I knew I was getting married in several months but I didn’t know where we would live, where I would work, if we would have enough money. I was actively trying to discern where God wanted me to serve after my teaching contract ended. I had already put in my notice at my job and wanted to be sure where I went next was where God was leading me. I didn’t know how Michael and I would be able to live together when we got married, when he was then residing two hours away. I had just gotten engaged and was confronted with the complications of planning a wedding in a foreign country. And my fiancé was in the middle of applying for a visa to the US to visit my family and home for the first time. As the first week of December arrived, I had no idea on what side of the world I would be spending Christmas, or if my family would get to meet Michael before we got married. I was in the middle of all these situations in which I felt I could do nothing but pray, I was waiting on God to move. And for someone who prefers to be in action, that is an extremely frustrating place to be.
It seemed every new, small problem that arose—my cell phone falling in the toilet, my power or running water going out—sent me over the edge. Each day I woke up afraid of what that “one thing” would be that day that would leave me incapacitated.
I was bombarded, overwhelmed. I felt weight pushing down on me. I knew I was called to be victorious, more than a conqueror, but I didn’t feel that way, and I didn’t know how to get my mind into alignment with spiritual truths. I was praying and fasting, yet still crying each day from the height of my stress level. I didn’t know how to give things over to God.
On a Monday, my busiest day at work, I sat in my classroom with a spare 20 minutes thinking, this is not how the life of a believer should look. I’m living as if I don’t believe there is a God who is all powerful, all knowing, completely able to take care of me. I’m making decisions as if I don’t really believe I’m going to look into His face and give an account for my choices at the end of my life.
In the last several months Eric Johnson’s sermon ‘God on Mute’ has been an incredible blessing to me. From that sermon I learned that this question of “God, what is Your will for my life?” is not the correct question. It’s the question most of us ask, but it’s the wrong question because it ends up putting us into a box containing what we believe God wants for us on the inside, and everything He doesn’t want for us, every other choice we could make, on the outside.
I’ve noticed for a while how small my view of God had become and I wanted to invert that box. I wanted God’s ‘will’ for me to feel large and expansive and not imprisoning and limited. And that’s why I changed that ‘will’ question to “God, what are you building in me?”
I’ll be the first to say that when I moved to Uganda full-time, I had absolutely no idea what I was getting into. I had spent a few months here before, but I had a very small picture of how difficult life actually is for a foreign woman living on her own in a developing country. I often still get overwhelmed at it all.
So I knew in all my troubling circumstances I should be asking God, what are you building in me? But I also found myself saying, “God, I’m actually really scared of whatever it is you might be using this stuff to prepare me for.”
God, I have these issues whizzing around me. I have responsibilities I’m struggling to keep up with because I feel so weighed down. I can’t actually see how I’m going to make it through the last weeks of this term without breaking down daily. I don’t yet know my place here. I started noticing how often this world tries to take your eyes off Jesus.
But as we entered 2017, weights started breaking off of me. God removed the worries I had for so long. Michael’s US visa was granted, we travelled together, job opportunities came into my line of sight, I survived yet another stressful term of teaching.
In January, I met back up with my bible study group of women and we reflected on what we saw God do throughout our time together in 2016. We discovered that during our Christmases apart, God had answered every prayer we had been praying for each other. It was astounding. I looked back at my journal at lists of things I was waiting on God for, and I could literally tick them off because I had seen God answer them all. I went home that night after our first bible study meeting of 2017 and discovered that just that day, God had finally answered another prayer I had for nearly two years!
For me I’m finding it to be a very gradual building process. A slow process of me waking up realizing, ‘Oh, I don’t worry about that thing like I used to,” or, “Wow, I see now how You were with me through that hard time. I see how merciful You are.” By no means do I feel like I have everything together, but I’m on my way to seeing what God is building in me.
If you find yourself in a similar situation, I would encourage you to NOT STOP PRAYING. This really carried me through. Talking to God in every moment. Reminding myself that I’m not alone in this. Make appointments to speak with Him, and keep His name on your lips.
A Priscilla Shirer study taught me the secret to living in peace is living in gratitude. So you know what, God, yeah things might be really hard sometimes, but you are sustaining me. You don’t waste anything, and everything hard that I go through, every hurt and worry and stressor is still being used to build me on the inside.
Now, sitting on the other side of the canyon I couldn’t see across four months ago, I am beyond grateful to God. Jobs are in order, housing will be there, wedding is slowly coming together, Michael’s visa is done. It’s like all of a sudden I’m looking back wondering, what was there to worry about? But if only I had known then what I know now.
Maybe one day I’ll get it. Maybe one day my heart will finally be steadied and I’ll learn just how in control He really is. Until then, God, keep me praying, keep me expecting, keep me yearning for You. Because I see how you reveal yourself to those of us who are willing to let you lay the bricks and foundation for what is to come.