A lot can happen in a year.
The last 12 months have been some of the most wonderful, painful, exposing, sanctifying, excruciating, and joyful months of my 28 years.
God has opened my heart, locked tight with fear, and poured in more love and goodness than can be contained in 10,000 lifetimes. He has begun the process of breaking down my Fort Knox-esque self-protective tendencies and given enormous gifts of grace so beyond my dreams and imagination that I didn’t even know to ask for them. I’ve watched Him answer six years of prayers in my small group babies as He has matured, purified, saved, sanctified, and led them deeper into His heart. He has faithfully and flawlessly demonstrated His sufficiency in the valleys and on the mountain tops and in every moment in between.
This year has been filled with sorrow, longings, dreams, and compassions that fail not. It’s been packed with patience from the Father, security from the Son, and constant hope from the Spirit.
has taught is teaching me to trust Him (and others) with my emotions, my unmasked soul, and my constant urge to resist grace and base my worth on performance. My heart, shriveled from 28 years of insecurities, has been expanded and nourished by a love unlike anything it has ever known from a human so marked by majesty that my soul explodes on a daily basis in worship and praise to the Giver of every good and perfect gift. And my mind constantly reverberates with this grace-drenched message: If His gifts are this good, how much greater is He?
God has proven to my fearful soul over and over that He is good and that He does all things well. He strategizes our lives well. He directs all things well. He writes all our stories well. He never makes a typo. He only ever writes with the highest quality grace-filled ink and He is plotting in all things for His supreme glory and our deepest joy.
Even when He says no.
Today is the day I was supposed to move to England.
Three months after we returned from England last January, Haley and I began praying about moving to Oxford, a city that instantly felt like home, magic, and possibilities. She would get her PhD, I would write and teach English, and together we would immerse ourselves in the culture we had fallen in love with and make disciples.
We discussed it with our parents, faithful counselors, and each other (all the time). We sought God for months and moved forward, talking with people on the ground in England, students and advisors at Oxford, and various missions organizations. We made lists and Pinterest boards, bought and designed a travel blog, strategized and wrote content for said blog, and researched anything and everything we would need to purchase before moving.
I looked up jobs and Visa applications, formatted my resume for England, and found an apartment. We imagined living, writing, and studying in the same city that was once home to C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, Lewis Carroll, T. S. Eliot, John Wesley, and so many others.
And in every second, God taught me to dream again.
I just didn’t know it wasn’t for England.
It was the end of October when the no came.
The door was shut.
The desire had changed.
The answer was clear.
Joy flooded in.
I wanted to go but I didn’t want to leave. I wanted to be in Oxford but I wanted to stay in Paducah. I wanted to move and do cross cultural missions but I didn’t want to miss what God was doing in our church or watching His plans for His people unfold.
After years of wanting, seeking, and begging God to send me overseas to give my life for His global glory, He (again) called me to stay. Paducah is where He called me and contentment and rest stabilized the calling. His peace proved His presence.
“You make known to me the path of life; in Your presence there is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” -Psalm 16:11
On this, the day I was supposed to move, I can tell you with more clarity and conviction than ever before that God will never deny you an egg to give you a scorpion. But He will deny you a scorpion to give you an egg (Luke 11:11-13).
My heart was saying, “Lord, take away this longing, or give me that for which I long.” The Lord was answering, “I must teach you to long for something better.” -Elisabeth Elliot, Passion and Purity
The bottom line (isn’t anything new): God always has the best plans. Especially when He says no. He can be trusted. His ways are higher than ours and His beauty surpasses anything our minds can conceive.
Do you want to know the most recent lesson He’s teaching me? It’s that sometimes, when you brace yourself for a no, He actually says yes. Just in an entirely different way than you were expecting.
Sola Deo Gloria.
“This God––His way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true; He is a shield for all those who take refuge in Him.” -Psalm 18:30