I failed to trust God.
My heart longed to be in Commerce since the day we were sent home and I am so thankful to be reunited with a community that God has intentionally placed me in. However, my living space does not reflect that joy.
All of my walls are empty. There are no brightly-colored sticky notes on the bulletin board I usually hang above my desk, no reminders of Scriptures that I had written down in quiet times past. The artwork I purchased at the beginning of quarantine (a simple church on a hill and the words “Lord I need you”) was also missing from the empty space I had considered for it. My fake plants stayed in plastic bags and the only color in the apartment (besides my extensive pen collection) was from my bedspread.
The blank state of my apartment is partly because I lack decorating skills but ultimately because I didn’t want to have to take down what I worked so hard to put up. For fear that university would send us home soon into the start of the semester, I have been reluctant to decorate the place where most of my time is spent. Although this choice may have seemed logical at first, it has not been a wise decision.
Ecclesiastes 7:29 (ESV) says “See, this alone I found, that God made man upright, but they have sought out many schemes.” I have sinned by deciding for myself what is best. I knew that putting up my pictures and bulletin boards would allow me to feel like a more permanent resident in the city I love but, out of sin, I hesitated to do so because I lacked trust in the Lord.
An ugly apartment doesn’t seem like a terrible sin but the heart of the matter is where the problem lies: not having things on my wall is a constant subconscious statement that I don’t trust the Lord to be sovereign in all situations. The Israelites didn’t know when they would have to pack up and leave. They watched the pillar of cloud for direction on whether they would be staying; for a week, a couple of days or just that evening. Even if the Israelites had to disassemble it the next morning, they unpacked the Tent of Meeting at every place they camped. The people had no idea when God would declare that it was time to move somewhere else. They lived in tents but they visibly recognized the necessity of meeting with God, no matter how short or long they were going to be where God had placed them in that moment.
This implies trust. For people tired after the heat and sand, constantly setting up a tent that they might have to take down in a few hours didn’t make sense logically. But it is necessary spiritually, and the people recognized this. Setting up in that place was where they boldly acknowledged that they knew meeting with God was essential in all places and that they trusted in the Lord to leave them in their current place for as long as they needed to be there.
God has made it obvious that He wants to accomplish things on this campus and in Commerce. At the BSM, we have been able to serve 60-70 people every Monday at Free Lunch. God has been building awesome connections with freshman and new students. I know that so much more is happening for the glory of God that I cannot see. The Lord has decided that the university will be open for the time being, allowing His purposes to be accomplished through the in-person outreach that we are able to do safely.
Moreover, God knows way more than I do and He has used this rather trivial example to remind me of what the Lord says in Isaiah 55:8-9: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” (ESV)
It doesn’t matter how reasonable I believe I am acting or thinking. God’s ways are beyond my comprehension but they are so much more right than mine. Compared to the Kings of Kings who knows eternity and each individual relationally, my pretend shred of wisdom had more to do with practicality than trusting God. I need to trust in God’s ultimate plan and pray for peace with the reality that I won’t always understand it.
For this season, I need to trust that God will cause me to bloom where I am planted; and part of that trust includes putting down roots–whether it be a painting on the wall or pictures of friends and family placed for all to see. God’s expectation is not that I would be here and serve people, with one foot out the door. God’s desire is for complete obedience and that requires establishing myself fully here and committing to focusing on the present opportunities. I must not hold back because I failed to trust in God’s plan.
“O LORD, You are my God; I will exalt You, I will give thanks to Your name; For You have worked wonders, Plans formed long ago, with perfect faithfulness.” – Isaiah 25:1 NASB
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