How The Lord is Presently Pruning + Preparing My Path
That’s the question I have been asking myself over the past month. I have a big year ahead of me; it’s turning out to be, at least. I’m finishing up my undergraduate degree and will be graduating from college in May, I begin my first full-time internship in the field that I am hoping to pursue, I begin graduate school for a Masters in Integrative Wellness this Fall, then if you haven’t heard the news of my engagement already; I am going to get married as well! There’s so many exciting events + moments + opportunities ahead, some of which I had planned for + expected, but others that I had no idea were going to be coming in this season of my life. With the combination of these factors, I am pausing to reflect + reevaluate the plan I had set for myself. Notice some key words in that: the plan that I had set for myself. Now, we know where this is going… “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps” (Proverbs 16:9). So, in light of that, I have spent a lot of this past year + especially the past couple of months in a lot of prayer. Prayer for guidance, yes, but more so prayer for my own heart — for contentment where God has me + where God is leading me.
You all know by now, or if you don’t then you can tell from the title of this blog, that I have a heart for missions. Since the moment I grasped the Gospel fully for myself, I wanted to share it with other people; I wanted others to have the same hope, joy, fulfillment that I had in a life saturated with Christ. This eager desire combined with my love of travel + learning of contrasting cultures, sent me into a search + pursuit of national/international mission trips + opportunities. My plan throughout college was that I would attend classes throughout the school year (late August - early May), then I would spend my summers out on mission. Then, when I graduated college, I wanted to pursue a long-term program through the International Mission Board (IMB). This plan was golden up until the last month of recent events, as I began to realize that the plans I set for my life were not exactly compatible with God’s blueprint of my life.
One of those “events” that I mention, came about through recent teaching opportunities that I have had. I co-teach 5th grade students every week at my church, but I have had fewer + newer opportunities to teach fellow college students. I spent intentional, invested time in study + preparation, making notes + takeaways as I would for myself in my own study. Following the lesson, I was given very literal, positive, encouraging feedback. I did not ever think of myself as a teacher, but it gave me the occasion to reflect on past experiences where this has also been true of my writing, leading, discipleship. Further, it reminded me of how this gift of teaching is so present + prominent in Jay — my (almost) other half. The purpose of our lives is to glorify God + the purpose of any relationship is for that to be manifested greater together than as one. As I began to put these pieces together, I fell even more confident of our relationship, as a God-ordained pairing, and even more clear on what it was that God was preparing ahead of me.
At the current time, in societal terms as well as my own place in life, it has been made more clear to me that my desire to go out on mission is no less fervent + clear, but it is definitely not in the precise way that I had been expecting or envisioning it.
For one, it was not going to happen immediately when I graduated college. I wanted to do long-term missions somewhere for at least a couple years, however, God had different plans. Based on how my 21 years of life had gone thus far, I did not expect to be stopped in my tracks by a romantic relationship. Fortunately, and providentially, God has used this relationship to grow my spiritual walk + my personal life (though they are not separate) in numerous capacities. I have learned more about myself, my sins, my strengths + weaknesses, my surroundings, relationships, the local church, the depths of God; it was not a season wasted, though my mind may have been tempted to think otherwise because I was not “going” out on mission.
Secondly, I learned that this does not mean that my chance for missions is completely gone away with just because it may not happen in the two years after I graduate. Rather, it may come in 5 years, or maybe 25 years, or maybe not at all. And I learned something really important through this process (the process of a lot of prayer, study, tears): contentment. My heart is content because the whole concept of missions is not. about. me. This is not a journey to grow + mature me (though it does do that), or a way to satisfy my own desires for travel or connecting with other cultures. Missions — THE mission — is to glorify the God of Heaven alone.
Thirdly, to go back to where I started, I see the Lord leading me in ways that I did not expect in my plan; yet these are not antithetical to missions. Missions has a connotation where we only think of it being to go out yourself, or to send out financially/prayerfully. However, there is another aspect: training, teaching, organizing, leading. When it comes to these preparatory tasks involved in the mission of God, we often glaze over them, or do not even think of their existence. But how important they are! If we did not organize + lead individuals, there would be no trip to send or go out on, and there would be no assistance or guidance along the way either. If we did not have individuals teaching + training individuals before they were sent out somewhere, at best they may encounter difficult situations or conversations that they do not know how to address; at worst they may misshapen + muddy the message of the Gospel itself. The more I learn about the intricacies of missions + I learn about my own giftings the Father has indwelled me with, I begin to see my mission mindset being redefined + refined.
As I am still much in the process of prayer + patience awaiting the times + opportunities ahead, I ask one thing of you: your prayers. If you haven’t caught on through this post already, prayer is a key thing here (in life). I ask for your prayer for my future; wherever it is that God leads me, that I be content, that I humble myself + my preferences, that I be patient + gracious, that I be — for all the days of my life + all the ways that I can — honoring + glorifying to the God of Heaven + Earth, the great I Am.
"One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after;