this has been a particularly spiritual week, and not because of anything i've sought out or done. maybe that's not true. maybe it is because of things i've done- or maybe even because of some things left undone. i don't know. what i do know is that god is talking to me. it feels like he is finally rewarding me for those things that i'm practicing, despite not having them come naturally. patience, for instance... and as we examined in an earlier post, balance. i am also really good at picking a goal and pursuing it to the fullest- but less good at waiting to find out god's agenda and pursuing that, instead. the past few weeks, i've been trying to be really good about listening and figuring out which is which. i don't have all the answers, yet (and only god knows how much that drives the control freak in me crazy!) but they are coming to me, slowly but surely.
i remember years ago being frustrated that god never "spoke" to me. i would pray for clarity and guidance ("demand" is probably more accurate than "pray"), and ask him to show me what he wanted me to do, and what direction he wanted me to move. i couldn't understand why, when i was so willing, he wouldn't give me some great epiphany and use me in a big and wondrous way. i couldn't understand why, when all i wanted was to hear his voice, he wouldn't talk to me. one day i was literally having a conversation with him on my way to work (fine- i'll admit it. i was talking AT him). i remember it so well. i was walking from the parking lot into the hospital and i was running a few minutes late. i was in the midst of saying to god that all i needed was to hear him. i needed to know his will for my life. i wanted him to trust me enough to share with me his plan. i was good and buried in the "me me me" topic when i looked down and noticed a pile of trash that somone had dumped out of their car and left by the entrance to the ER. i heard a little voice in my head say that i should stop and pick that up, but as i said, i was running late. someone else would get it. wasn't that housekeeping's job? besides, it looked nasty. i rushed past and didn't look back, as i continued to tell god that i was upset that he never spoke to me, nor gave me direction. that little voice actually cut me off. it interrupted me and said "you need to go back and pick that up." period. and a realization hit me like a bolt of lightening. i was hearing god, and i was ignoring him. who did i think that little voice was? who did i think wanted me to get over myself and start thinking about others? who did i think cared enough to speak up and tell me to do the right thing, even with no one looking? i realized that god talked to me all day, every day, guiding me in what i should say, and how i should act, and more often than not i ignored him. i chalked it up to "the little voice" and not the enormous god. i also realized that he was giving me a real message, and it was this. "if you don't trust me enough to obey me in the little things, why should i trust you with the big ones?" i knew right then and there, without a shadow of a doubt, that i had to prove to god that i would listen to him and obey him, and in time he would learn to trust me enough to give me bigger and bigger tasks until he felt sure he could trust me with something as important as his will in my life. that day, i started obeying the voice- even when i really, really, reaaaaaaaally didn't want to. i picked up trash, i helped people carry things out to their car at the grocery store. i let another car in front of me in traffic, even when i was running late. that was the key- to do it even when it hurt. maybe those were the ones that counted extra! the ones that cost me a little. sure enough, after proving to god that i would listen to the small stuff, he started pointing out bigger things...and even bigger things... until he finally whispered in my ear that i was created for full time mission work.
in my desire to "walk by faith and not by sight", i have been preparing to go even though i have no destination or timeline. the hardest part has been the lack of destination. i want so badly to be able to picture myself there, and pray specifically about where i am going and what i will be doing. maybe because of that, i inserted myself in africa in all my imaginings. i was convinced that god was calling me to africa. i love the continent and the people, and the very second i leave her, i find myself longing to be back. i can't deny that africa has played a huge role in my spiritual formation, and in forming me into a humanitarian and a missionary- but that doesn't mean that africa is where god is calling me to live out my life serving him. don't get me wrong- it might be. i have just come to realize that africa is likely my agenda, but i'm not sure it's gods...and perhaps the reason that there has been a delay in getting there is because god is waiting for me to stop chasing my tail and listen to where "there" really is.
a few weeks ago i made a real effort to try to turn over all my control back to god, and stop trying to make things happen on my own. that's when he started talking to me - loudly, and not in a whisper. he was waiting for me to shut up and stop telling him what i wanted. turns out, he knows what i want more than i do. SO- fun things have been shaping up. i have started an amazing conversation with a missionary from nepal who is the medical director of a hospital in a village in the far west, near the borders of india and tibet.
i will take a "vision trip" there in the spring of 2012, if all goes well! during one of our talks, he let me know that now there is a plan to launch a community health evangelism program in this village, and that is something that is truly close to my heart. it means becoming a member of the community and focusing on wellness, and not just illness. he believes that there is a place for me on their team, and is excited about moving forward to explore this partnership. now i have something specific to pray about! on the same note, the doors to zimbabwe (which was where i "wanted" to go when i first looked into this organization) and chad that seemed to have been openening have, for the time being, remained shut. maybe this is god's voice, too.
prayers that i can discern between His voice and my own. he makes a much better god than i do.