Here is the 2nd half of my post from last week.
When our family first moved to South Asia, we had good plans. Some were our own ideas we wanted to see happen. Some were things we strongly felt God wanted to do through our family. (Perhaps there is a little bit of both in everything people choose to do). Of course we didn’t know the specifics of how He’d accomplish making disciples who were capable of influencing others, but we threw our whole lives into trusting Him for it.
Over seven years, we were able to do many things we wanted. It was great. Sometimes our plans came to fruition and we were surprised with unexpected blessings along the way. Occasionally things happened differently than we expected, but still worked out well. That felt exciting. Parts of the culture and rhythm of life in South Asia were predictable. This was grounding and enjoyable most of the time. We loved this part of our work. It felt good to live in those circumstances because the life changes were fun and interesting.
But there were several occasions when stressful— even tragic— events unfolded that we definitely did not plan for. That is life in our world, isn’t it? None of us escapes such events. But with the addition of multiple cultures, languages, personalities, and the challenges of the expat life, we found it easy to reach levels of stress we had never known before. That’s when our work felt painful. In those situations obedience to God and commitment to our work sometimes meant being completely misunderstood, enduring rejection, or giving up dreams. We can’t always control the events that come into our lives, but relying on God’s strength in how we respond—that’s where resilience is built.
As I adjusted to life in South Asia, I learned how to press on in faith in many situations. However, a few events left me wondering if God was passively watching my life without offering help, manipulating me on a power trip, or forcing some twisted agenda. But God doesn’t do that. People may unexpectedly hurt me. Events beyond my control may happen, but God will be present in my circumstances to help.
God will discipline me sometimes, but He will not injure with the intent of delighting in my pain. I can recall periods of time when the changes He brought to my life felt like a surgeon wielding a scalpel. With precision, He targeted immaturity and sin. He sliced away things that could affect areas of strength. But it was always for good. It produced repentance without regret and encouraged growth toward who He wants me to become.
Looking back, I can see a few specific ways God was present in the events of the past. He was working to redeem what was lost, heal hurts, meet needs, and demonstrate His love. Not just for me, but for everyone involved. There are many things I still do not understand. I may never, but I’ve come to know I can trust Him. I’m learning to accept the past for what it is and bring valuable lessons with me. As I live in my new circumstances, God seems to bring past fears and issues to the surface when I need to deal with them or when I’m finally ready to deal with them. It’s easier to see them more clearly now and to walk in a little more freedom and wisdom than I had before. These changes have been long coming and aren’t happening fast, but it’s worth it.
Change and transition are on my mind because God is invading some of the comforts I’ve spent months setting up for myself in my new country. My circumstances are slowly prodding me out of the “safe” areas I retreat into when I’m thrown into a new situation. Safe areas like guarding my family’s schedule or making sure I have time alone. They are how I make sense of life. Not necessarily bad things, but they pale in comparison to what God intends for me. I’ll keep these tendencies to some extent because they are a healthy part of my personality. But He’s going to make sure I’m free to experience and obey Him, complemented by my tendencies instead of defined by them. Change is one way He does that. It’s uncomfortable, but it’s also good.
I sense a little hesitancy in my heart as I move into a new time of life, but mostly there is fresh hope. I’m becoming aware of God’s unending patience toward me and His delight in every tiny step forward. I sense His pleasure as my trust in Him deepens.
Thanks for reading!
©2018Chrissy Winslow – All Rights Reserved
Reposting this link from last week because I really appreciate the openness of her writing & all of the links and resources she provides.
Are You a Resilient Missionary? by Sarita Hartz
Look forward to sharing more stories next week!
- Here is the link for the Kindle edition of my first book. There is a paperback with a slightly different cover.