As my time in India started to end last summer, I began to reflect on the many things God had taught me thus far. I came to India with a few personal missions of my own, one of which was for God to confirm whether or not long-term missions is His will for my life. I got a resounding, “Yes” from my Lord, which still thrills me to my core, but God also told me something else: I was really young. At the time I couldn’t really explain it, but I had this unmistakable impression that, though I was going to live and work overseas, I wasn’t quite ready yet. Unsure of what exactly He had in mind, I knew that God had some things in store for me before I began my life in a different culture.
Now in Nicaragua, God has been telling me the exact same thing. As my time here is also coming to a close (only 1 month left), I keep sensing that the same thing: God has a special season ahead of me, one of great importance for my growth and maturity. And it’s looking like this “season” is going to be in the States! I’m always amazed at how God prepares me for whatever’s next; He’s given me real anticipation and joy about returning to the US and my life in Alaska.
A few days ago, I wrote an email to my best friend (God knew what He was doing when He put Kelsey and I together as roommates), rejoicing with her over what God’s been doing in/through her and sharing what He’s doing inside of me:
“Believe it or not, I’m seriously considering abandoning nursing (my current major at University of Alaska Anchorage) and going ‘all out’. Can you picture me as Dr. Countryman? I’m thinking about becoming a Pediatrician! I’ve got a few reservations, however, one of which is the crazy amount of time it will take. I wouldn’t be done with school till I am 26 or 27, and those would be years of practically-no-life-I’m-so-crazy-busy. Add on to that however many years it will take to pay off those last years of med school. I’m not so found of the idea that I won’t be overseas till I’m 30+…” So I poured out my concerns to my awesome sister in Christ.
Just after sending off the email I set about some household chores, popping in my lone-working ear bud to listen to my iPod. I’m slowly working my way through Pastor Mark Driskoll’s sermon series in Luke (from Mars Hill Church in Seattle), and I was about halfway through a sermon I’d started earlier. Like only He can, God used a sermon on the genealogy in Luke 5 to touch me exactly where I needed. Take just a few minutes and listen to it for yourself, starting around 19:55 and ending around 23:45.
I was amazed; God was using this preaching to address one of my biggest concerns: I don’t want to waste time. I want to get started wherever God wants me ASAP; I don’t want to be sitting around, watching my 20’s pass by. But then again, maybe I wouldn’t be wasting them after all.
I’ve just restarted Corrie ten Boom’s autobiography, The Hiding Place and I’ve been struck by something: the book starts when Corrie’s already 40 years old. I am used to reading biographies telling people’s stories of salvation and spiritual growth, documenting the journey from the very beginning. But this is different. The reader enters the world of the ten Booms, vibrant believers who live every moment in step with Jesus.
As I read stories like The Hiding Place it’s easy for me to become discouraged. These stories are filled with people of incredible faith, people deeply rooted in God’s Word who know Him so intimately. It’s hard for me not to compare myself with them, and I’m always found lacking. How could I ever come to the point where such incredible faith flows through my veins in such a natural, everyday way? I know it’s not impossible for God (to do in someone else), but it sure seems impossible for a nineteen-year-old girl from small-town Alaska.
But the more I think on this dilemma, God gently reminds me of one comforting truth: He uses the everyday in-between. Corrie didn’t start that way. She started just like I did, a simple young woman who gave every day over to the God she loved with her whole heart.
And this is where India, Nicaragua, Seattle and Corrie ten Boom unite. God has made it unmistakably clear: He has a plan for this next season of my life, whatever this season holds. The story we all associate with Corrie ten Boom didn’t start till much farther down the road than I’d like to see for myself, but it’s very evident that God used every day of those 40 years. He used them to teach her about Himself, to mold her into a better image of Christ, and to prepare her for the incredible journey he had in store for her. Her faithfulness in everyday produced that mature foundation I noticed from the beginning.
The frustrating thing is that it skips over how she grew that foundation. But perhaps it’s better that way. Now I’m not tempted to adopt her exact method as a legalistic check-list guaranteed for spiritual growth. Instead, I must spend every day at the feet of Jesus, drinking in His every word, letting Him guide me every step of the way. Trusting that each of those steps, whether on American or foreign soil, is never wasted.
Thank You, Almighty Father, that You are a God who loves to use “the in-between”, those awkward seasons that don’t always make sense. In those times when I’m looking ahead to the next great thing, You are in fact working in the “right now”. Help me to walk in step with You, my Author and Perfector, and trust Your perfect timing. You know exactly what You’re doing!