I thought I was ready for the unexpected. But how can you ever be ready for the unexpected?
Simply put, you can’t. But you can trust God to provide.
As I look back, there are so many things He orchestrated ahead of time, in some cases years ahead, that I could never have imagined. Here are a few examples:
- I moved countries one month into my assignment. Lo and behold, we moved from a city where I knew no one to a city where an old college friend lives. God provided.
- After we got apartments, we found out that new friends lived very close by. Friends who would become mentors, confidants and counselors. God provided.
- My upstairs neighbors speak English really well (which is unusual!) and have helped me learn about culture, and invited me into their home and family. God provided.
- My landlady speaks no English, but she is so patient and kind with me while I struggle through our conversations. Not to mention, she wants to have a friendship with me, not just a business relationship. God provided.
- I grew up speaking German, and although there aren’t many similarities to the language I have had to learn, this ability has helped me understand grammar as well as pronounce crazy, strange, guttural sounds quickly and almost with ease. God provided.
My recent Bible study has been in 1st Chronicles, and if you’ve read 1st Chronicles, you know it’s full of lists of names, roles and responsibilities. But what stood out to me was how they (the Israelites) assigned these roles and responsibilities – by casting lots. In the secular world, one might say they decided by chance.
But if you believe in an almighty God, nothing, not even the casting of lots, happens by chance. In the same way, someone might say I got lucky with the move, the apartment, language, my landlady, neighbors, and friends. But I didn’t. God provided.
So, to you, future (and current Goers), let me challenge you to think about all the “coincidences” and “luck” you experience, see God providing in those moments. Hold onto this as you step into the future.
Some other things to think about:
Don’t assume that because you and your teammates are all Christians, or Americans, or Soccer fans, that you won’t have strife and disagreements. No one is perfect, and people are complicated. Add to that the stress of a different culture, and you have a recipe for misunderstandings, disappointment, and hurt feelings. And those are ok, as long as you can build stronger relationships by working through them.
Furthermore, don’t meditate on what’s gone wrong, what bothers you in the culture or on the team. When you constantly replay those negative experiences, you are setting yourself up for more of the same. Process them with God, and then turn your mind to worship when you find it slipping into judgement.
Write down your expectations (about the work, your team, language, friends, living arrangements) before you go. We all have them even if we don’t think we do. Keep this list to look back on and laugh about. Pray through the expectations that don’t get met, and rejoice in the unexpected. God provides. Always.