Updated: Aug 29, 2021
By: Bethany , GTS Life Contributor
I don’t know about you, but 2020 was not the year I had thought it would be. I mean, I had plans… big plans! After two years of training and years of anticipation, 2020 was the year I was going to move overseas and finally live out my calling. However, those plans were derailed and, by March, as we all know, travel around the world came to a screeching halt. That kept this girl living in limbo for who knows how long (spoiler alert: I’m still stateside and am praying for the Lord to lead and guide what may come next).
I felt a lot of stress, worry, and sadness during those first seven or eight months of 2020. I kept feeling like, if I could just get overseas, all would be well again and life could begin. However, by the grace of God and with much prayer from my dear community, by August, I began to feel an overwhelming sense of peace and acceptance of my current circumstance. I could breathe again as I began to accept the tension of letting go of my expectations, but still clinging to hope.
Today, I was reflecting on what the Lord has taught me through this experience. I’m willing to bet that, even years down the road, I will be thinking about this time in life and what good has come from it. But for now, here are five life-changing lessons God taught me during this season that I would like to share with you:
1. Pray through at least one Psalm each day When we’re grieving, anxious, or overwhelmed, we long to talk with our Lord, but sometimes we struggle to find the words. I experienced this often early in 2020. Some days, I would just read and pray exactly what was written in the Psalm. But often, I found the words David wrote helped to bring clarity and words to my prayers. Even on days when we feel joy and thanksgiving, these beautiful words can continue to guide and direct our prayers. There are so many beautiful words written in this book, but those that I frequently found myself turning to, that seemed to give me words when I had no words, were Psalm 13, 23, 61, 86, 96, and 103.
When we’re grieving, anxious, or overwhelmed, we long to talk with our Lord, but sometimes we struggle to find the words.
2. Rejoice in the “Yet” Last spring, I attended a virtual retreat with women around the world. Our theme verse was Habakkuk 3:17-19: “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights.” Wow. Despite literally everything going on in Habakkuk’s life, he sought to rejoice in the Lord. First, he named and recognized his losses. That’s important to acknowledge. But, he so firmly believes that the Lord is his steadfast strength, that he continues to rejoice in that fact alone. That he serves a good, living God. I believe studying this verse in-depth shaped my perspective on the rest of the year and, for that, I am so grateful.
. . . yet I will rejoice in the Lord . . .
3. Be still and listen This is one I’m still working on. Our culture tells us “busy is better!” and we are constantly flooded with distractions at our fingertips. But, I dare to say, 2020 challenged that message that has been so ingrained into us as the entire world has been forced to slow down and take a look around. Last summer, I was on a group zoom call with a man known as “Pastor X.” Pastor X is from the Middle East and has been a key catalyst in starting hundreds of underground house churches there. He shared the practice that he and his teammates start EACH day with at least four HOURS of silence and prayer because he has seen and believes in the power of allowing the Holy Spirit to truly take over each day. That blew me away. I often focus so much on reading the Word or talking to God or studying on a topic, I forget how vital it is to sit, be still, and just be present before the Lord. Even though it is not much and I hope to build on this discipline, I started carving out 15 minutes a day where I sit before the Lord and just openly listen for His voice.
I often focus so much on reading the Word or talking to God or studying on a topic, I forget how vital it is to sit, be still, and just be present before the Lord.
4. Rest in the goodness of the Lord We can surrender our plans and ideas because He is good and He takes care of His children. I really like to think of myself as one of those super laid-back, go-with-the-flow kind of people who just lives by the seat of their pants. However, reality check, I know I’m not actually that way. Sometimes it is challenging for me to just rest in God’s goodness and trust that He really loves me and is taking care of me. When I finally began to feel peace and acceptance of this situation last August, I realized it was because I shifted my focus to “what is God teaching me during this season?”. When we intentionally put ourselves in a posture of humility and surrender, we can’t help but rest in the goodness of God.
When we intentionally put ourselves in a posture of humility and surrender, we can’t help but rest in the goodness of God.
5. Lean Into Community This is a tough one for me. In fact, I think my personal tagline is, “thanks, but I’ve got this.” I’ve moved eight times in the past eight years, including to four different states as well as another country. Almost undoubtedly, right about the time I finally feel like I am connecting with people around me and feeling more settled, it is time to move again. For years, I felt so hesitant to put down roots and find deep connections with the people around me because I “knew” it was probably just a temporary living situation making it that much harder to leave close friends behind. Again, thanks to our Good Father, who knows what His children need, He has been teaching me to be fully present where I am. For me, this means not being afraid to dive in deep with friends and trusting that, even if we are not in a physically close location, our relationship is absolutely worth the extra time and energy it takes to maintain long-distance friendships. God designed us all so uniquely and splendidly in that we need one another. I need to invite others into my personal and spiritual journey if I expect to grow deeper in my relationship with Christ. Jesus knew His time on earth was limited and temporary, but that didn’t stop Him from pouring into the lives around Him and sharing in life with them. What a beautiful example to follow.
be fully present where I am