Private Preparation: The Value of Showing Up In Your Own Life

We are a community well acquainted with moving. Some of these moves are anticipated for years. There is the preparing and the longing and the excitement about what is to come.

There are other times where the unexpected happens and you do the abbreviated version. I am moving to Ghana in early January. Surprise! The timeframe between my first inquiry email to the school and my arrival on foreign soil will be 8 weeks.

How does a person move across the world with only 8 weeks to prepare? You don’t. You can’t. Moving around the world takes far more than 8 weeks of preparation.

I keep coming back to the story of David and Goliath and how David responded to Saul who was convinced there was no way young David could be prepared to fight the battle-trained soldier Goliath.

“But David said to Saul, ‘Your servant used to keep sheep for his father. And when there came a lion, or a bear, and took a lamb from the flock, I went after him and struck him and delivered it out of his mouth. And if he arose against me, I caught him by his beard and struck him and killed him. Your servant has struck down both lions and bears, and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, for he has defied the armies of the living God.’ And David said, ‘The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.’” 1 Samuel 17:34-37 (ESV)

David was not out in the fields with his sheep preparing for the day he would go head to head with the Philistine army. God didn’t tell him that he needed to fight two lions and three bears before he was ready to advance to greater tasks. David was obedient and faithful with the job in front of him. Because of this, he was ready when the time came to fight Goliath.

At this point in his life David had already been anointed by Solomon as king of Israel. What if David had already started to live for the moment he would become king? What if fighting bears and lions was beneath him? What if he didn’t want to do the work that would go unnoticed by the crowds? What if he stopped practicing with his slingshot, because what future king chooses a slingshot as the weapon of choice? He would not have been ready. He would never have developed the skills and qualities necessary to defeat Goliath.

What stands out to me is David’s humility. Much of what he did went entirely unseen. Even when he asked to fight Goliath, it seems to just be his natural response to the situation. He trusted God to protect him as he tended the sheep and fought off wild animals. Fighting Goliath was no different. He trusted God with what was right in front of him.

Over the last two years, my heart was being pulled to Ghana. I wanted to be there. I believed it would happen some day, but I had no idea when someday would come. I moved back to Minnesota last April expecting to wait years. I settled here while at the same time holding my future loosely. I’ve been happy even as I lived in the tension of not knowing. I was content with living here for as long as God wanted.

Then everything shifted. I was clicking through Facebook and came across a job posting in Accra, Ghana, second grade teacher needed for five months. It was enough to catch my attention. Fast forward three weeks, several interviews and a lot of paperwork, I got the job and had five weeks until I needed to move.

This is not a lot of time to prepare. Most of my preparation, though, was done before I even knew about the job. I didn’t know what I was preparing for, but God did. All I needed to do was be faithful with what was placed in front of me.

When this job came up, I knew instantly. I still had to go through the interview and hiring process. There were moments where I wondered if it was really going to come together, but deep down I had complete peace and knew this was my job. Even if I could talk to you for hours, there is no way to even begin to explain how God has walked before me and how I see Him fitting the pieces together.

It was humbling to move back to Minnesota without any timeframe or plan for the future. It took strength and determination to walk into the counseling office over and over again. It took perseverance to finish my recertification when I had no set deadlines. Moving to a new city, country and continent is a better conversation piece, but it isn’t harder. God was with me in the uncertainty and the pain and the healing. He will be with me through every step of this move.

How, in retrospect, have you seen God prepare you for a future you never expected?

Where are areas you know you need to be faithful in the present?

We know right now, even in this very moment, God may be privately preparing you for your story to continue. Thank you to the many who have helped Velvet Ashes’ story to continue! This is the last week to help.

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  1. Sarah Hilkemann December 28, 2016

    Emily, thank you for sharing this! As I get ready to leave the States after a few months at home and return to Southeast Asia, I really need this reminder to be faithful with what is in front of me. I have felt like I have been in a preparation stage but have no idea what is next, and that is scary and uncomfortable. I like to know what is ahead! But I really appreciate your post and the reminder to trust God in the midst of the unknowns. And I’m so excited for your new adventure in Ghana!! 🙂

    1. Emily Smith January 2, 2017

      Scary and uncomfortable is right! I’m right there with you. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen that you’ve arrived safely back in your SE Asia home. (Thank you Instagram for keeping me up to date!) I was thinking of you as I was driving through Nebraska a couple weeks ago. I don’t actually know where you were in the state, but it made me wish I could have met you face to face. Maybe someday! 🙂 I would love that.

      I was so happy to have been asked to write this post. I made me actually have to stop and think about some of the preparation and trust it has taken just to get to the leaving point. God’s grace has been enough to get us to this point…I just keep telling myself He must have a plan for the rest of it. I wrote it as a reminder to me. I’m glad it could be an encouragement to others as well.

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