I knew God was clever and so when I described in clear terms where I wanted to go I knew He understood perfectly. White sandy beaches, ink blue skies, palm trees, coconuts and mangoes were all on the descriptive list. He understood! I knew He did! After all, we had lived in England and been subject to grey skies and dull weather for seven years. I knew God would want to give us reprieve and would certainly adhere to most of the demands on my list.
Hawaii here we come! Well, if it wasn’t Hawaii then I would be perfectly content with California or even Florida. God could choose out of three destinations where to send us…that surely gave Him a lot of scope!
Shock and horror!
When my ever cheerful, fun loving, optimistic, visionary husband barged into the room one sunny North Carolinian morning to tell me there was a tentative invitation to Ellendale, North Dakota, I did not laugh. It was not funny! And it was not God! I tried to convince my husband that God could never ever want us in an insignificant place with only 1500 people living in the town. Utterly ridiculous! Who goes to nowhere places to try and accomplish growth in God’s Kingdom?
Not one for being put off too quickly Paul kept gently badgering me. He asked in that persuasive, happy, no pressure kind of tone, “What if we just go and do their spiritual emphasis week for them?” Well, since we were speaking at churches in Chicago, I thought it would be plausible to push further north and go and see this place called Trinity Bible College, in Ellendale, North Dakota. It was not a little further north; it was a lot further north! We drove and drove and drove until I thought we would fall off the end of the earth.
God’s ways are perfect
We arrived at Trinity and had two amazing days on the campus. By the time our two days were over, God had convincingly shown me that this insignificant, somewhat desolate destination was the place He wanted us to come.
God’s ways are always best
A little over two years ago we arrived at Trinity. No, there are no white beaches. There is a lot of other white stuff and its kind of cold, if you know what I mean? Snow in abundance, wind that hits you with incredible force and cold to make your bones ache! But, oh how happy I have been! I thought I knew what I wanted, but truth is God knows what is best and He knows us better than we know ourselves.
God’s will is the safest place
I have come to realize that the safest place to be is right in the center of God’s will. When you are in that place you are perfectly content. Our joy does not come from our surroundings alone, our joy comes from the people we are with and knowing that we are right where God has placed us.
And so my friend, if you are struggling with God’s plans for your life, or if you feel your world has been turned upside down, take heart! There is no safer place than His will.
I have learned to trust my wonderful heavenly Father. He knows best. What looked like my world being turned upside down was actually not! He was turning my world the right way up.
Beauty wrapped in bleakness
North Dakota can be bleak in winter, but there is real beauty in that bleakness. This open, monastic space is a place of solace and comfort for the weary. You can hear the birds singing, you can watch the leaves on the trees dancing in the breeze and the grass shiver beneath your feet. It is the perfect place for a Bible College! Men and women can draw aside to this cloistered space and prepare their hearts to serve God in a broken and hurting world.
God sees what I don’t see
God is infinitely cleverer than I am. I would not have put a College in Ellendale. But then neither would I have chosen a king to be born in a stable and live in an insignificant town called Nazareth. It was in that insignificant space that the Son of God was nurtured and from that place He went out to touch His world.
God’s kingdom will come
If we are prepared to let God rock our word and turn it upside down, I believe we will see His kingdom come on earth.
Yes, it has been a bit uncomfortable at times, but there is deep inner joy that comes with the knowledge that I am where God wants me. God has turned my world the right way up.
Looking to Jesus
And so as Hebrews 12 exhorts me, I keep looking to Jesus. I keep my gaze on Him and know that He will help me run my race to the very end.
Take courage in God’s plan! What feels uncomfortable and topsy-turvy might actually be the right way up. His ways are best. Yield and submit to His perfect plan.
I am and always will be,
Recklessly abandoned, ruthlessly committed and in relentless pursuit of Jesus,