Here I am sitting in my apartment in Oaxaca listening to the rain. The world is quiet. But in my head resounds this truth, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and He will make your paths straight.” I painted that verse onto an 8×11 piece of paper 3.5 years ago as I prayed hard over the decision of whether or not to go live in Spain. After lots of prayer and wise counsel, I said no to that offer. And what did the Lord do? Just as he promised: He made my paths straight and brought me straight to Oaxaca. The land that I love.
I never dreamed that this is where he would bring me. And I never dreamed that it would be this hard; not in these ways.
The truth is I’ve often doubted God’s faithfulness to me in these last few months and years. For a while, it seemed he was so clearly working in my life but then things stopped making sense. My life wasn’t filled with fruitful ministry and growing relationships like I thought it should be; at least not from my finite perspective. Rather, it was marked by betrayal, hurt, sickness, disappointment, and often-unwelcome change. How could this be the plan of a loving, gracious, in control God? How could this mess of a situation be anything good for me or for His glory?
My natural instinct is to look inward: Why aren’t things working out for me? Why isn’t my life the way it should be? Why isn’t God delivering me from this pain? When will life be ‘good’ again? Did he bring me here to this place I love just to leave me alone and struggling?
But I had it all wrong. How could this mess not be for His glory? What if I asked instead: How is God using this to chisel away at my sin and pride? What is he teaching me about his goodness and grace that I could never learn from an easy life? What plans does he have for me that require suffering in order to be better used by him? What people has he brought into my life that I never would have turned to if He had done things MY way?
To focus on me is to be miserable. It is to take all of the hard pain and suffering of this life and say that it is for nothing, that it is some terrible mistake that I can only hope will one day be fixed. To focus on God is to recognize that this is all very temporary. And if that isn’t enough, it is also never without purpose. If I truly believe that God is good and that he loves me, then I also have to believe that even in this He is with me. Even now I can acknowledge him. Even now I can trust him with my whole heart. Even now that I’ve cycled back to a place in life where my only choice is to live one day at a time He has promised that he will make my paths straight. And what’s more, He has promised that He is able, that He is forever faithful, and that His strength will be made perfect in my weakness.
Very recently God has been showing me how many good things he has given me even during these most difficult seasons of my life. He’s been kind enough, gracious enough, loving-fatherly enough to give me sweet times with sweet people. And he’s used so many of them to speak his love to me, to wrap his arms around me, to help me feel his presence in a way that is so real, so palpable. I am so grateful for a God who chooses to pursue me when I most doubt him and least deserve him. And I am grateful for friends and mentors and family who choose to let him love me through them, especially when it is least convenient. So here’s to once again handing it all over to my Heavenly Father and choosing to trust in Him un dia a la vez.
“Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.” ~1 John 4:11-12
*This post is a follow up to So what are you doing after graduation?