It’s amazing the clarity that being overseas and away from your everyday life can bring. Having just returned from a three week missions trip to the Middle East, Holland, and Germany, away from constant internet access, away from my iPhone, away from my family, just away from all of the busyness of everyday life, there I found this delicious stillness in the presence of God. And in that delicious stillness, I found clarity. But I’ll get back to that later.
In 30 days I turn 30. 30!!!!! How crazy!!!! And as I consider leaving behind this decade of my life and moving into the next, I can’t help but get a little sentimental and reflect on all that God has done in my 20’s, and then ask Him what He would want me to bring into my 30’s.
To be honest, for a long time I was dreading this next decade, but for no good reason really. Just because it’s the thing to do? To be in denial of my inevitable decay (morbid, I know)? But actually, the closer I get to 30, the more excited I am. I thought the 20’s were amazing, but if I really think about it, I probably spent more than half of that time trying to figure out who I was and answering other significant angsty existential questions. Approaching 30, there is far less angst and far more security and acceptance in who God made me to be. Rather than fighting who I am and trying to be something I am not, I can finally embrace who I am and live powerfully out of this freedom. Instead of working against God’s designs, I can finally work with Him.
For the past three years, I’ve been in school, the past two years full-time and the year before that part-time. God has been gracious in getting me through school, but in the busyness of it all, it’s hard to remember what my original purpose was for even getting my degree in the first place. Why did I subject myself to $80,000 in loans, stress, endless papers, etc.? It’s hard to see clearly when things are blowing around like leaves all around you. My motivating factor in the end was, “Get through it so I can get back to ministry!!” Well, not so fast, Alice…
God has been so gracious to award me with this $18,500 stipend from Los Angeles County. Who doesn’t love money that goes towards loans?? The catch is that I need to give a year of employment to LA County, which was heart-breaking for me at first. Another year away from campus ministry?? Why, Lord? I just want to get back already and do Your work!!
So back to clarity (I didn’t forget!). When all the leaves fall to the ground and all that is left is the stillness of an unhurried life, you can finally see and you can finally hear. You can finally see and hear what everything’s really about and you can finally make sense of everything.
On this trip, I felt God affirm me in who He made me to be, personality, giftings, and all. He made me as a nurturer, a cheerleader, an embracer, an encourager, a safe haven, a healer of souls, a “set-free-er” of captives. And it all clicked. The craziness of the past three years, and even my purpose for this next year, which I had been hesitant about up until this point. It all makes sense now.
“Alice, I have called you to more. You will do all these things that you have been called to on a spiritual level and impact lives more than you can even imagine. But first I want to lead you in a time of earthly training. Just like I did Moses. Just like I did King David. Just like I did Jesus. You are just getting started, girl!”
I get so emotional as I receive these insights from God. He knows my heart, He knows my fears, that I haven’t really been called into the counseling field, that I won’t be “good enough,” that I will just fail, that we just wasted so much money and time on schooling that I won’t end up using. He knows, and He doesn’t have to affirm me, reveal His purposes, or help me make sense of it all, but He does. And knowing this makes all the difference between just enduring the next year and living it out fully, knowing that whatever I receive and learn will be used for God’s kingdom in mighty ways in the future. Just like Moses’ time as a shepherd. Just like King David’s time as a shepherd. Just like Jesus’ time as a carpenter.
I think my 30’s are going to be amazing. :)