Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Putting life on hold is not a suitable option

Growing up near railroad tracks has given me a healthy respect for a common metaphor of life. If we continue to move forward, taking the next visible step, we are good. It is when we sit down and refuse to progress that the train comes. {I may have reworked that a bit, but you get the point!} I have also heard, and truly believe, that we do not need to see the whole staircase, we just need to see the next step.

So often I want to jump five steps ahead and have the ability to see into the future. I desperately want to know what my future looks like. I want to know where I'll be in five years {especially when so many people have been asking and I don't have an answer for them!} I want to know what state or city. I want to know what kind of career I'll have. Who I will marry and when. How many kids I will have. So many things. I'm a bit of a planner. I like to have a general idea of how my days, weeks, months, and sometimes years will look. I like to be doing something, so I need to know where I can fill in the gaps.

I have this date in mind that I hope something special will happen on. Only God knows if that is the case or not though. It drives me a little crazy sometimes thinking about the future and subconsciously planning around that date. I have recognized that I need to stop this mind set at once. God has perfect timing, so if that date is supposed to be open, it will be. I don't have to plan. I don't have to drive myself insane thinking about it and planning around it. In fact, if that day comes I would hope that the people involved would respect me even more for having acted on faith and gone about my life following God instead of putting everything on hold.

Recently I was listening to a friend and mentor talk about a mission trip that she is planning for the ladies of my church. I've known about the trip for a while now. I have seen the facebook messages about the meetings, I have heard people talk about it, I have not been blind to it. Never before did I have any desire to go. Not that I am disinterested in missions. In fact I have enjoyed the opportunities I have taken. But nothing inside me was saying that I should consider going and I was fine with that. Last night something changed. I was listening to her speak and tears welled up in my eyes. Don't get me wrong, I am a crier, so that is nothing new, but this was something else. I couldn't shake the sense that I needed more information.

So now I am praying about the possibility of going to South Africa July 2013. That is huge for me. I remember vividly a conversation I had with my father a few years ago. I mentioned something about a mission trip to Africa that I had heard about and he immediately, said I was absolutely not allowed to go. My dad was a cop my whole life up until a few years ago when he retired. Because of his time on the force I was raised in a protected home. I was not sheltered by any means, but I was always watched out for and made aware of the terrible things that happen every day, just in the US. I know the thoughts that went through his head when I mentioned going to Africa, a country with no stable governments, guerrilla warfare, an AIDS epidemic, and some of the deepest poverty of our world. I know the fears of his little girl never making it out of Africa. And I'm not saying he's wrong to think that. It's a real danger.

I was nervous to tell him that I was considering it. I expected the same response I got a few years ago. When I did tell him, his answer was nothing if not straight out of the mouth of God. "Okay" was all he said.

So in considering this opportunity, my mind landed on that date that I have subconsciously been planning around. It would be about a month before leaving for Africa. My mind immediately retracted and said to my heart, "Nope. Not gonna happen. Never mind. Forget that." When I recognized that ridiculous thought and was able to analyze it, I came to one conclusion. If God wants me to go to Africa, he will make a way no matter what I say. Why am I planning a huge God adventure around a silly date that may or may not happen? I cannot put my life on hold for something like that. There are times when we should step out in faith and hold fast to something that God has given us, but I don't believe this is one of those things. I think it is much more important to go on about what God wants me to do, instead of putting life on hold and sitting down on the train tracks waiting to be run over.

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