Saturday, July 26, 2014


I'm the planning type. But I'm also the "fly by the seat of my pants" type. Because nothing ever really goes according to my plans. Three years ago I was preparing to enter my freshman year of college. I knew exactly what was going to happen to me and what I was going to do after I graduated. I wish I could go back in time to let myself know that it would be the last time I truly knew everything haha! In three years, my plans have been "messed up" more times than I can count. And of course, every time a plan was "messed up," I made a new one. I planned my life around career possibilities that I decided on, the perfect relationship that I just knew was bound to pop up any day now, and even tried to completely rewrite my future by changing my major to a completely different field of study (most of you know how long that lasted).

But here I am, three years later. My major is the same one I started out with, but my reasons are completely different. There are no prospects for me to leave the "throes" of singleness any time soon and I honestly have absolutely no clue what's going to happen next. Sure, I still have dreams and desires and a focus, albeit a broad one. But I've slowed down my efforts of trying to reinvent the lightbulb, so to speak. My hands have opened and my tools are falling all around me. There are times when I want to bend down and pick them all back up again and keep working on my own little light bulb. Sometimes I actually bend down and start picking some up. But each time, God puts me back where I belong (sometimes gently, but always lovingly). Empty hands, with only the Cross to cling to in this dark tunnel I'm creeping through. Step by step, God turns on a small light. It's just enough to show me where I should be now.

I can turn backwards and see everything in stellar bright lights. I can see the mistakes that God graciously turned beautiful. I can see the times I was beaten down and the wonderful days of victories. I can see the moments where God broke open my heart, cleaned out the rebellious gunk, and stitched it back together again. And I can see when I poured rebelliousness back in. And where He cleaned me out again. And again. And again.

My attitude for so long has been characterized by the (often unconscious) thought, It's not that I don't trust God. It's just that, I know myself and what I want, so aren't I good enough to plan this all on my own?

No. No, I'm not. The truth is, I'm not enough. Not good enough, not strong enough, not smart enough, not any definition of "enough." I don't even know my own self enough. I need God. So desperately. I need Him at the very core of my being. Without God, all the lights are off and I'm fumbling around in the dark trying to reinvent the light bulb. And utterly failing. If the past year of my life has taught me anything, it's my overwhelming need for God. Not just to be the Remover of my sins - although that is everyone's greatest need. I need Him for my daily life. Not just to meet me at the end of the road and say, "Well done!" But to walk alongside me and guide me (or in some many instances drag me) through life. God is the closest friend I have ever - and will ever - have. But He is more than my friend. He is my Savior, my Lord, my King and I am utterly compelled to worship Him and do what He wants me to do with my life. Because without God, I have no peace, no direction, and certainly no purpose.

And I'm learning to rest in His trustworthiness - even if I think all the lights are off.

Going to China was a huge leap for me. We're talking astronomical here. It's okay if you're surprised. I'm the adventure type - I want to travel constantly (as evidenced by my cross-country adventures in high school). I love new places and new things and airplanes are my favorite mode of transportation. So China was just the next adventure, right? Wrong.

China was terrifying. It was the big scary place that I've always wanted to go to, but oh man now I'm going and I have to do scary things like teach English and try to overcome a language barrier. Even the idea of getting the chance to share the Gospel was a little (okay, a lot) frightening. This fear partially stemmed from the confusion about what the government does and doesn't allow, but it was also from the realization that Christianity is completely and utterly countercultural to the Chinese. God has given me several opportunities to share the good news with strangers and friends alike. But to share it with strangers who barely knew my language? And who will likely walk away thinking I'm insane? It left me on the brink of anxiety!

But I needed to be in China for the last six weeks. God put me in a place where I felt utterly alone (yes, even with ten other native English speakers). He took me there, not to abandon me but to show me how much I need Him. And to light a fire in me that could not have been lit if I had stayed in the States. Part of me wishes I could go back in time to the me six weeks ago that sat in my living room, crying because I was so scared and was sure I couldn't do this. The truth is, I couldn't. I am too weak. I am not enough. But my God is so big, so strong, and so mighty. And there isn't anything He can't do. I'm glad I can't tell me six weeks ago that it's going to be okay. Because it's something I needed to see as God took me to the end of myself and humbled me and showed me in His way what I need to learn.

Each day I grew more and more desperate for God's Word, and found myself feeling empty if I missed/skipped my time with God. In China, God was all I had. Yes, I was able to cultivate some beautiful friendships.

I had a prayer answered in the form of one godly young lady on the team. I am so grateful for the people on the team who let me be quiet when I needed to be quiet (especially so, considering how frequent this is getting) and didn't question me when I needed to be weird. They loved me and prayed for me. Each one of you (and yes, I mean each of you) was Heaven-sent. I went to China to teach, and was taught by every person I knew. 

But even friendships do not fill me in the way that God does. In the way that I hope and pray He fills you. On my own, without my American comforts and security, God drew me to Himself in a new (to me) way. I prayed before I left that He would open my eyes. And He let me see. He let me rub shoulders with Christian giants who have taken on the form of tiny older ladies who make delicious food and young people who translate for and guide groups of Americans. He let me peek into the lives of twenty-six college freshmen, girls (and two boys) who left evidences of their emptiness wherever they went. He let me tutor a tiny and intelligent little girl who taught me Chinese while I taught her English. He let me see, encounter, and build relationships with people He loves and wants to adopt into His fold. He took my hands and feet places I never thought they'd be. He transformed my thinking and showed me ways and things I never would have come to on my own. He turned on a light that shines brightly, but I can only see it dimly now. It shines a far way down my little tunnel. Something in my future - I don't quite know what, that's for God to know - but something that will take me places I could never have reached on my own. All I know is that this is certainly not the last time I will be in China. I don't know how long it will be until I return or how long I will stay when I finally get back. But one thing is for certain: part of my heart is on the other side of the world. And I am never getting it back.

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