Rising Anew

The time to leave China arrived. As a person of imagery, the only picture in my spirit was darkness; a girl standing on a path unlit and shadowed.

Where did the light unto my path go? Where do I go?

I thought I’d be in China for years to come, but God’s holy flame that guided my calling and life began to move. Like the Israelites who followed the cloud by day and fire by night, I, too, go where my Father leads.

His torch flamed and rose. I knew the season was upon me, but unlike other moments in which I knew where he was leading, I was shrouded in the unknown. My dream had been serving in China. But life’s seasons bring unplanned changes and we began to see God guiding us as if using a trail of breadcrumbs, laying down provision after provision to lead us toward America; a place more foreign to me than China had ever been. Mid-air on the plane, God gave me Psalm 138:8: “The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.”

Losing a dream to death is painful; trusting there is life after death is petrifying.

As a family, we gave ourselves a year to transition. I remember sighing in wait for a year of rest after spending the previous years on the brink of burnout over our ministry responsibilities.

However, as we landed on American soil, the darkness further encroached around my soul. Rather than rest, my days filled with anxiety, feelings of displacement, insecurity, grief and loss of identity. Daily I cried out, “God, where are you?” I knew he’d led us to return, but I struggled to understand what I was returning to.

Why was I struggling so desperately while my family easily slid into the new lifestyle? I faced the truth while reading in Isaiah 43:18-19:

Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.

I found these words making my path clear for the first time. I’d been clinging to China as my identity, purpose and fulfillment, yet God clearly moved me from that place. I was not the place, nor was it all that God had for my life. In order to rise anew I had to let my former dreams die; they could not be my identity. Sadly, that realization was only the first baby step in my reorientation.

The coveted year of rest looked more like a train wreck of emotional suffering, wondering who I would become. In America, I found the first question people asked was, “what do you do?” as if that defined me. My humble reply of homeschooling mom and wife sent people running from me, enlarging my circle of loneliness and growing fear of living a purposeless life. I decided to live out Psalm 130, crying out as the Psalmist did and claiming the promise that God is with me and hears my sorrows. I allowed my soul to wait in the Lord.

If I learned anything in China it was that most things don’t happen when and how you want them to and long-suffering is part of daily life. The year needed to be a season to still and quiet my soul. God allowed me a season of tear-stained self-discovery by opening my eyes to my truest identity—Him. It wasn’t in a job people expected me to have or where I had been or done. In stillness and loneliness of loss, God refashioned my vision to see my calling properly.

Transition is an upheaval of events. Our emotions are like glitter in a snow globe, swirling around us, lingering over us, all the while taking their sweet time to settle. We struggle to make sense of the many memories, feelings and new encounters toward our reorientation.

This past year of leaving China to start a new life has been like repotting a plant. Disorienting to be ripped out of my comfortable pot, then rattled by the jostling about, only to be smashed into a new pot which is uncomfortable in order to wait around until I fit in that new place. Yet, we are assured by God’s word that what He starts He will finish. He will light our path in due time.

Ending the year of rest, I’d wrestled, wept, struggled, longed for the past and let it go so that I could rise anew into this season that God has also called me. Dreams come and go, we move and transition, but God remains steadfast.

We follow, He leads.

We find ourselves in Him, we are His and He is ours.

Our calling is to trust Him and remember: He makes all things new.

Are there any areas of your life that you find yourself clinging to that God is asking you to let die or move away from in order to follow his leading in your life? Is there an area in your life that God is wanting to do something new?

Photo by Patrick Fischer on Unsplash

10 Comments

  1. Helen January 11, 2018

    I can so relate to this. For me it was also China, a few health issues needed sorting out back in South Africa, and then God closed the doors….I had to stay. It was hard to settle back, but slowly I started to settle. Still I asked :”what now?” Then God started sending them….the children….at first a little knock on the door…3 little brown, dirty faces….”auty we are hungry” I fed them…..food for the body and stories about Jesus. They come from “Happy Valley” not a happy place, gangs, drugs, drinking…..and children without fathers….hungry children. At first I did not know where the money would come from, but God said, trust me like you did in China, and He keeps on providing. I see their smiles and hear the one little boy tell the rest before they knock :” my aunty lives here, she will give us food,” I smile and I thank Hod for using me in a new way, here is South Africa where the needs is so great.

    1. Helen January 11, 2018

      Sorry “God” not “Hod”

    2. Beth January 11, 2018

      This is so beautiful and encouraging. I confess I am still in the place of darkness on most days. I am still not quite sure what I am doing with myself and my time while in the US, but stories like yours gives me hope too that there is more to come as we are faithful with little. I love how you are seeing God’s provision in your life and new precious ministry as auntie.

  2. Nasha Huitema January 11, 2018

    Vivid and powerful. This was a timely reminder of how God’s truth can bring me back to the solid ground even if I am still in the dark valley (He is still with us). Hard to believe God allows His beloveds to go through darkness but still as you said “allowed me a season of tear-stained self-discovery by opening my eyes to my truest identity—Him.” That`s what I can take from my suffering too. Thank you Beth and God bless you.

  3. Elizabeth January 11, 2018

    Thanks for these thoughts! I can so relate to some of these things as I go through my own transition to this season in the US. Its been about 5 months and I still feel like there is so much adjusting and reorienting I need to do.

  4. Barbara January 11, 2018

    I can so relate. When God first called me to Nicaragua I thought it would be forever. He sent me home after 15 months for a time that can only be called dark, intensely emotional, and I had to work through many issues I had avoided most of my life. Slowly {too slowly for me} the disorientation lifted, he restored broken relationships with mother and father before they passed away, and revived me in a new way. After 3 years, in 2015, he recalled me to Nicaragua, where I still am. If he had not done this deep work in my life, I would not be here. Let Him work. He knows what’s best. Especially when it hurts. The States are hard.

    1. Elizabeth January 15, 2018

      Thanks for this insight. It’s good to hear stories of how those moments of reorientation being worked out and that mysteries that God unfolds in our lives post living through those seasons.

  5. Suzanne January 11, 2018

    That image of a plant being re-potted resonates powerfully for me. Thank you, Beth. My roots too are still figuring out what the new space is and settling into the new pot.

  6. Rowanne January 14, 2018

    This both scares and consoles me. My field time is coming to a close this summer and I am already mourning. Not so much a place (as I have been in many) but a way of life that I love, an organization I cherish, the sense of adventure, purpose, and being surrounded by other people who share these feelings. Also the peace that comes from not being surrounded by US news, negativity, and violence. But most of all the “What next?” and “How am I to live without purpose and passion?” thoughts. Thanks for the reminder that others survived it and were re-formed by His hand in the process because, as the song says, “Never once did we ever walk alone.”

    1. Elizabeth January 15, 2018

      Rowanne, I resonate with your comments of losing a way of life that you love, adventure, purpose. Those are/were all fears that we face when leaving the field. However, we can cherish what we have experienced and continue to press on because as God’s word affirms in Joshua 1:9 that he’s with us wherever we go and in Jeremiah 29:11 he consoles us by reminding us that he plans to give us a hope and a future. Your journey doesn’t end with you leaving the field, your organization or community, though they are painful losses, he will make a way for you. God can use all that you experienced and loved about being in the field in new ways. I hope that you can find glimpses of joy as you anticipate your future knowing that God is with you and will never leave you without purpose. He’s a purposeful God and as long as you keep your eyes and heart fixed on him you will find the fulfillment you are longing for. That doesn’t mean you won’t grieve and perhaps have moments of stillness, but I encourage you to wait with him in the next season and see what unfolds. Let him be your purpose.

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