I think that, for me, having a year to prepare myself for serving in Thailand was a very good thing. What’s still funny in my mind is that it’s not exactly like me to think so far ahead and put such priority on planning and preparation. But I am glad that I did it in a way that’s a little out of character for me, because I think God was using that time to cultivate changes within me that are proving to be helpful.
In the past couple years (the last 12 months especially) I have been seeking God for what I call a “healthy restlessness”…not just for this period of my life, but for all my days. I just want to be constantly waiting for, and expecting more of the great things of God, whatever that may look like; constantly..itching for more, being never fully comfortable/content. This song describes really well where I want to be…feel free to listen:
I was definitely feeling this while I was still at home, and to no surprise am feeling it here also. I praise my God for that because really, it’s an answer to prayer! But being in another country has been putting me in a state of vulnerability before the Lord, and other people, that I have never experienced before. It's not that this is unexpected. But just because it comes expected, doesn't make it easy.
Last week we went on our first team retreat, and it was great! Part of our agenda was going to be sharing our life stories with one another, so I spent time before and during the retreat thinking about my life, who I am, and discerning what to share. During times I have really been examining myself (how I respond to people and things, how I act, what I say etc.), I would become so frustrated with who I am. Examination and sharing somehow turned into an evaluation that would determine my value/worth on the field. In general I have also found myself being reluctant to really soak in what I am thinking and feeling.
In reflection though, I can confidently say that it has been so enjoyable for me...even right in the middle of those down moments..to just pray; to lay all of my unadulterated feelings before the Lamb. My reluctance hasn’t been any kind of a hindrance for God. I have found it so vital to try to my best to hold onto the promises in the Bible. Every time I turn to prayer, I hear God gently reminding me of the bigger picture. In prayer with my Jesus, I am free to by myself, and also free to be changed by Him. AND! I am free to think about more than just myself!
This healthy restlessness stuff is hard to feel sometimes; but I’m thankful. We serve a radical, unconventional God. So let us hold our thoughts and theology loosely, but cling to this God always!