If you've ever read the sci-fi series The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, or watched the movie, the guidebook the stories are based on has "Don't Panic!" written in large letters on the outside of it, to reassure the travelers who use the book. I have thought this was sound advice ever since I read about it, and it's been in the back of my mind quite a few times.
Now it's very much in the front of my mind. See, I am supposed to be going to the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry in Valparaiso, IN, very, very soon, September 13, in fact, is when I am supposed to show up for registration. Last week I happened to notice the date, and all of a sudden, I got just a bit panicky. OK, perhaps more than just a bit. Perhaps I spent much of the day hurtling, "OK, God, I TRUST you, see! So take care of this!" prayers heavenwards, trying to accept the peace available to me versus choosing to worry about the piles of details that have yet to fall into place.
This whole time at home while my mom's recovering from surgery has not been what I expected -- it has been much, much harder than I thought, and has consumed more of all of our lives than we were prepared for, and my mom's still not really well enough to do much. This has meant all these things I had planned on doing while I was here, such as figuring out ways to raise money for school, have pretty much fallen to the wayside, as my sister and I have been taking care of Mom and taking care of the household (sidenote: being a mom is hard! seriously!). I have just recently gotten my letters in the mail asking for prayer and financial support.
Basically, I have no idea what's going to happen in a couple of weeks.
The thing that keeps coming to my mind is, "Don't Panic!" Such good advice, and as an added bonus, pretty biblical to boot.
As I was packing up the remainder of my belongings this weekend from the Boltons' house, I found a few relics from past "big plans" gone seemingly awry. Notebooks that had various addresses and notes from Arizona when I was living there and job hunting (to no avail). Old stationery from when I was approved to go to the Middle East as a missionary.
The thing is - as much as none of those things worked out at the time, and as much as I felt completely foolish switching directions after being so sure those things were what I should be doing - everything worked out for the best afterwards. I moved back from Arizona, which was hard because I was so frustrated that things hadn't worked out and didn't understand why I had to come back. Then I was set to go to overseas later that year, but for some reason inwardly I strongly felt I needed to hold off from moving forward with plans, even though I'd already gone through training and was ready to start fundraising. Later, I was beyond thankful that none of those things worked out, because that was the last year I had with my dad before he passed away, and I cherish the time I spent with him that year, which wouldn't have been possible if I'd still been in Arizona, or even just busy with getting ready to go overseas.
And I could go into a whole other post about identity, and pride, and security, and how those things get challenged pretty quickly in the face of failure/changing your plans even though you've committed to something/driving back home 3 months after your big going away party (did I mention it was warm in Arizona? and it was January when I came back? and winter has never been the same again?). . .
I guess all of that to say - I've been in these uncertain waters before, and traveled them with the most important presence of Jesus the whole way. This doesn't really help to avoid any of the emotions surrounding transition times, but it does give some really helpful perspective, and I think a greater opportunity for peace in the midst of everything.
I mean, I would love it if on September 13 I do, in fact, show up to class registration at Bethel, because I do wholeheartedly believe that this is the direction the Lord was nudging me toward earlier this year.
But, if I don't?
Well. Plans change, my babies. Something will happen this next month - whether it's school, or a trip back to Jackson to start looking for a new job, or hanging out here with my mom a bit longer . . . but the important thing is, no matter what happens, I know that God's taking care of whatever that might be, and that it will be good, and that He'll help me figure things out.
I was reminded lately of Paul in Acts 16 - how he and Timothy kept trying to go to all these places to preach the gospel, but kept getting prevented by the Holy Spirit, until finally Paul had a night vision that directed him to go to Macedonia. Imagine that - you're trying to do something that would seem really, really good, and would make complete sense to anyone else in the group of believers back then, and which would be fulfilling Jesus' words in the great commission - but still, for some reason, God didn't want them to go. I imagine that would have been pretty frustrating, and confusing, but in the end, Paul got the message and was led in the right direction.
So really, I guess I'm in pretty good company. As hard as it is, and as much as it really gets at my pride each time I have to change directions and face my friends and family with very little explanation as to why -- I'd rather keep trying to follow the Lord, and fail or just get it wrong, or have Him change plans on me, than spend most of my life paralyzed because I'm too afraid to do anything different, anything out of my comfort zone, anything that others don't understand the reasons behind. I'd rather have my pride hurt than miss out on what God wants to show me through the process, how He wants to change me, realizing that, while it may seem like I'm not getting much of anywhere, really I've grown so much over the past few years, and in the end nothing gets wasted in our lives, not time, not the good things, not the hard things, nothing.
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