I have learned that God is not boring. Instead He is full of surprises. Some of these surprises I like and some of them I detest, but they all come out of experiences I wouldn’t expect and they send me reeling into an unknown world.
But this is life, isn’t it, to be in a constant state of learning and development? Just when we think we have a grasp on God and how He thinks, how He speaks, how He moves and what He expects of us, He throws us a curveball. We swing hard thinking that we know, that we can somehow predict His movements, but we miss the ball and we miss it hard. Then we start to wonder if we knew the rules of the game at all. It seems unfair. Why would He throw me a ball I couldn’t hit out of the park?
I hate to say it…but we aren’t returning overseas.
I’ve known for about six months now, but I haven’t wanted to write it out loud. Honestly, there is a lot of shame connected to the loss of overseas ministry after ‘only’ four years. I am now seen as one of those who couldn’t hack the reality of cross-cultural life.
I wanted so badly to return overseas to Asia. To return to the place I believed God wanted me. After all, there are pieces of me that come alive in Asia that lay dormant in America, pieces of me that I love and respect. I love travel and languages and the constant exposure to change and new ideas, yet, when God threw the ball at me, I swung and missed and blamed myself. It must have been my fault. I must not be good enough. I must need to be fixed because God couldn’t possibly be intentionally removing me from cross-cultural ministry. Why in the world would He do that? Doesn’t He know that the workers are few?
God is never boring and He isn’t predictable. When He throws us off balance we have an opportunity to settle in, wait, and see what He has in store to teach us. Not because we have done wrong but because He has blessings to give, blessings of peace, joy, rest and healing. Because while we consider ourselves mature in faith, we are still woefully in need of God’s healing on our souls. God’s curve balls remind us that He is still in pursuit of ourselves.
He wants us. He doesn’t want our work or our sacrifice, He wants us.
Above all else, as our creator, He knows what we need. He knows how to show us love in a way that we can receive. He knows how to push us into risk so that we can grow. He knows when we are losing ourselves, dying on the inside and He hates it. He longs to see us made whole because He knows who He created us to be and He knows the pain we will incur when we act in opposition of who we are.
God is never boring and in this season I am learning to lean on a God who is foremost about healing and not converting. I’ve spent a lot of time believing that cross-cultural ministry is the pinnacle of faith. That selling all, moving overseas to the least reached corners of the world was the best God had for me. Yet, as I sit here today, in sunny California, I am reminded of what Paul said. He said he counts all of his accomplishments as rubbish in comparison to knowing Jesus Christ. All the learning in the world and all the doing and all of the letters he wrote to churches were irrelevant once he had tasted and seen God.
I’ve learned that my motivations aren’t pure and I’ve learned that I seek accomplishment over Christ. I can give it a nice ring, though, and claim that I am seeking after holiness or righteousness or that I am trying to serve God but really I am just trying to matter.
Today I am more broken than when I left for Southeast Asia but I am also more whole because God’s curveball has proven to orient me in a new direction. I’ve fought it, I’ve pitched fits, I’ve been confused, but in the end, I’m learning about God in a new way and I like this new God of mine. My Advocate. My Protector. My Healer. This God didn’t create me to use me but created me to partake in the beauty of a triune relationship embraced in love.
What is God showing you about himself? How are you experiencing him in a new way in your current season?