God, I’ll do anything for You; anything You want me to do — but please don’t make me go to Africa.
I said that once. It seemed guaranteed that if I told God I’d do anything for Him, He’d send me to Africa right away. Wasn’t that what happened to all Christians who decided they wanted to live their lives devoted to God? We heard about them at my Christian school; these famously Godly people who surrendered their lives to Jesus and were almost simultaneously uprooted and brought to the places they didn’t want to visit.
There’s a hesitancy, a reluctancy among Christians to surrender our lives fully to Jesus because we fear what He might do with them. I grew up believing that if I dared to give every part of my life to God, He’d make me do everything I didn’t want to do. He’d make me leave my family and move by myself to a foreign country where I’d have to lead crowds of people and become extroverted. He’d make me move from one place to another for the rest of my life and never settle. He’d bring people to me who I didn’t want to deal with. He’d have me live in a quaint house with a white picket fence, 2.5 children, and a job in a cubicle.
I’ve heard from so many Christians that they were living exactly where they didn’t want to be. That they had decided to give God control, and He brought them where they dreaded going. My mind couldn’t process it; couldn’t make sense of it. How could a loving God do that? And why on earth would I want to agree to it? Why would I give myself completely to a God who would bring me where I didn’t want to go and then say that it’s “for my good”? No, thanks.
But for some reason, I did it anyway. And He filled me so full with joy and peace and every other glorious gift of the Spirit. He always does; surrender isn’t something I did once. I have to do it daily, hourly, minutely, even after I’ve received His gift of salvation.
So I continued to give myself to Him, and wouldn’t you know… He brought me where I didn’t want to go.
I didn’t want to go to Belize the third time. The first two times I went were straight fun. I was a part of a group the first time, and met up with a friend the second. Both were short stints. The third time wasn’t. I didn’t have the security of a group or friend. I had no one. My family, my comforts, my habits and routines were all too far away. The few days leading up to my departure were horrible. Months before it had seemed like a good idea, almost fantasy-like. Me, going to be a missionary in a third-world country… It sounded so appealing. Then the reality hit, and I realized there was no way I wanted to go.
Yet off I went, and there I stayed for three months. It hurt. Pretending some things never happened is not the way of healing, though it’s often what I prefer. I’ve questioned — oh, have I questioned. Why did He bring me there? Why did I have to go through that? Why did those situations happen? I’ve gotten angry at Him, trying to make sense of it all. I know I can’t see the big picture, but wouldn’t it be kind of Him to at least explain what I can see?
The other night I was driving home from work and a song came on that I haven’t heard since I was living in Belize. This song was one that was played on the radio numerous times each day. I heard it over and over as I swept floors and filed papers and chopped carrots and pounded out tortillas — I heard it so much that it got almost annoying. Then God played it for me the other night. Tears rolled down my face as I fell more in love with this Jesus who puts things in the past to help in the future.
What if God’s bringing us to despised places is His way of drawing us closer to Himself? What if He’ll bring us where we don’t want to go so that we’ll break down our walls and decide to trust Him with every last drop of our beings? What if, like Abraham and Isaac, He brings us to the furthest place possible until we surrender more than we think we even have — and then trust Him more than we think we can?
What if it’s all about knowing His love?
What if the abuse we receive from others really points us to know the compassion of Jesus? What if our not-rewarded-labor really points us to the ultimate Rewarder and the One who sees everything? What if the children having a bad day really points us to the God who is stable and always providing? Surely bad things are not justified because of who He is, but what if we realized that He uses all things for the good of those who love Him?
This song says it all. Days and nights I have tried to make sense of the pain and the suffering. Even as I was living in it, hearing this song over and over, I didn’t understand. Nine months later, I see. How sweet and beautiful of Him to use a song, one song, to wrap everything together. The wounds are still here, but they’re slowly closing. It’s all about His love.
Listen to this song — it completes this post. Join with me, The Hurt, as I continue to surrender to our Healer.