Don’t you ever marvel at how patient and gracious God is with us? I am so in awe of His grace and patience with me. Some days I wonder if I will ever ‘get it’–I wonder if I will ever get to that place of complete surrender of my will to Him. And I don’t mean just giving Him the things that are easy to give–I mean giving the Lord the things that are painful, the things that hurt so much, and the things I long to hold onto. Know what I mean?
I am the first to admit that the last two years of my life have been extremely challenging. Moving to a very cold and snowy part of the U.S has been such a huge challenge for me. I come from a land of mostly warm weather and stunning beaches. A land where winter is like the summers I have where I live now. I have many days when I have seriously considered whether God ever designed me to live in freezing cold weather.
I confess–I have kicked and screamed since the day we moved here. I have fought and struggled to leave. I arrived here with my running shoes on–ready to head on out at the first given opportunity (of course, as God would have it, that opportunity has never arrived). I have repeatedly tried to convince God (a seriously bad idea) that surely this could NOT be my home. Surely not, Lord? Surely this is all just temporary, Lord, and very soon you will let me go back to the place I know and love? Right?
What do I miss about my home in Africa? Well, let’s see–
Wide open spaces and more wildlife than you can imagine. Green–everything is lush and green. I miss bare feet–shoes are not a necessity.
…and more wildlife!
Oh, the beach! Miles and miles of white sand beaches. Where children play and play.
Where families gather year-round and spend hours and hours in the beautiful outdoors. It’s free and it’s good for you.
It’s a place where kids can just be kids and….
The scenery is breathtaking, and the smells heavenly.
And even if you’re not ON the beach, you are always nearby.
For the days you don’t feel like being ON the beach, there is always a nearby river to fish in. So much water.
And, of course, the sport is so different. Cricket and rugby are the names of the games where I come from.
Family–the heart never gets used to being so far away. It hurts like heck!
Do I miss my country, my friends and family? Goodness gracious, YES! But here’s the thing–I am learning that contentment is a CHOICE. I am learning that my circumstances may never be the way I want them to be. I think I’m finally getting it. If my life was always the way I desired for it to be, then why would God ever call me to surrender my will to Him? There would be no reason for me to even need God in my life…I would just do things my way, take things into my own hands and never seek Him on anything. But, that is NOT the road I ever want to take.
Contentment is a choice, a decision. No matter what the circumstance may be. Truthfully, I have longed to live a surrendered life to the Father, it has been one of my deepest desires over the last few years. But this one thing, the place that I live, has been the thing that has been so hard for me to let go. Not really surrender, is it? To be willing to give the Lord some things, but not others.
But here’s the thing. God has been so gracious and so kind with me. He has given me the time to figure things out. I can honestly say that, for the first time in two years, I am content. My heart is at peace. God has answered every cry of my heart for the last two years–a church family I love with all my heart and amazing friends to journey with me. He has restored to me all the things I thought I could not find here. Doesn’t He just love to give us the desires of our hearts?
I am learning that I can never find true contentment unless I am completely surrendered to God–in everything! That means letting go of the past and looking to the future with hope, knowing with absolute surety in my heart that God is in control. That means giving Him those places in my heart that hurt so bad because I miss my family and friends so desperately, and trusting Him to fill that void with people who will love me just the same.
Oh precious friends, I have such a long way to go–but I am learning. I am so thankful for God’s amazing grace. I’m learning to bloom where He has planted me. I have no idea why He has us here, but He does, and that’s okay with me. As long as I can serve Him in the small things with all my heart, that is all that really matters.
I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. Phil 4:12
I am learning the secret of being content!