Saturday, February 26, 2011

China On My Mind

I'm going to China.

My honest response to this decision is WHAT??? I'm going to be honest. I have NEVER - I repeat, NEVER - had any interest whatsoever to go to China.


And then one Sunday I was sitting in church when I saw a little blurb in our bulletin about a trip to China to teach conversational English. I thought, "That sounds like a perfect trip for me as a teacher." Regardless of the fact that I have never really cared about China.

I feel like I should back up just a second.......

My church is constantly sending people to Jamaica and El Salvador and every other corner of the world. But the trips are always during the school year when I can't go. Or they've conflicted with grad school. A few months ago the singles pastor announced a trip to Jamaica to do good 'ole manual labor for a week, love on people, and then go home. Sounded like my kind of trip! But it's in October. All teachers know they can't miss so much as a second of school in October because of grade cards and Parent/Teacher conferences. I was bummed about not being able to go because I was really feeling like the Lord wanted me to join my church in one of these trips.

So, back to what I am now affectionately referring to as China Sunday.

I decided to pray about the trip, and as the week progressed I all but forgot about the whole thing. The next Sunday it was in the bulletin again. The deadline was February 15 which was just over a week away. I emailed to get some information about the trip the next day. The China ball started rolling and it just never stopped!

I was pretty much praying NON STOP for an answer.


No answer. As hard as I prayed, as much counsel as I sought, I did not have a clear yes or a clear no.


Honestly, I was looking for a billboard that said in big, bold letters:


Or one that said


I mean, he's God. He could give me a billboard sized answer if He wanted to.

So two days after the deadline, I still didn't have a clear answer. I emailed a friend of mine the night before who had given me this answer:

I would have to say keep walking forward till he gives you a NO......make up your mind to walk until He says otherwise.


I promptly deleted the email while grumbling under my breath as to how I could possibly keep walking forward without a yes or a no. I mean, seriously. Not the response or counsel I was looking for.

So I decided to fast the next day. I'm studying the Biblical practices of prayer and fasting, and so I figured this would be as good a time as any to try it out for myself. So I fasted. All day.

By 4:10 when I walked my students out to the buses, I still didn't have an answer. I was tired. I was discouraged. And I was hungry! A friend of mine who also loves the Lord was divinely sent to come talk to me after school. I'm pretty sure she walked into my room to find me completely dejected with my head on my desk. After talking with her for a while, I heard the Word I needed.

Step out in faith. In the process of going to China, my sole motivation is obedience. If the Lord doesn't want me to be in China, he'll stop me. He won't let it happen. But I'm taking a (scary) step out in faith to be obedient to where I feel He's calling me to go. If God doesn't want me to go, I know I can trust Him to be incredibly clear. (Acts 16)

I laughed out loud at the Word she spoke. It's exactly what my friend emailed me the night before. I just wasn't ready to hear it until I had humbled myself through fasting all day. (Thank you Lord for wise counsel confirmed two times over!)

And then I ate a Tootsie Roll. Not sure how Biblical that is....but I figured I'd received my answer from the Lord so it was okay to try to satiate my hunger a little bit!

So I'm going to China. HOLY COW! It was only after I made the official decision to step out in faith and obedience that I learned some VERY SCARY details of the trip.

1. I might be going alone. At this point I'm the only one from my church that's going. I'll be meeting up with a whole bunch of random people in Atlanta to go to China with.

2. I won't be able to communicate with anyone from home for the entire time I'm gone -- which is almost THREE WEEKS!

This is NOT the kind of trip I had in mind, Lord.

And then he spoke again through my friend Courtney. The truth in her words brought me to tears.

Lauren, I am so excited for you. Excited as in! You can be scared. But I'm not scared for you because I know you'll be ok getting to and from China and while you are there. I feel so certain that this trip is--as you said--not a typical church trip. That His purpose is not necessarily the kids you'll meet or the opportunities to witness that it will provide, but for you to give Him the time and attention He needs to get you all to Himself and let you let Him BE. Be your God, be your parent, be your comfort, be your friend, be the first one you run to when you are scared, the first one you run to when you are thrilled. We all three know (you, me, Him ;) ) how dear and near your family is to you. You love them, but He needs to show you HIMSELF as if you were the only one on earth He came for and is coming back for. You simply cannot let go of them enough here to let Him be all that He is and wants to PROVE He is to you and for you here. If He has to take you to the other side of the world, He will. It's too important for you to learn. I feel very strongly this is preparation for your ability to leave and cleave to a husband in the next season as well.
I don't know that you wanted to hear ANY of that!
But I see so clearly this:
He is jealous for me, Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree,
Bending beneath the weight of his wind and mercy.
When all of a sudden, I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory,
And I realize just how beautiful You are,
And how great Your affections are for me.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, powerful stuff! I'm a HUGE believer in the fact that sometimes the best answers are found as we walk forward. I pray constantly that God will open and close doors as He sees fit...and I just keep plodding along.

    So glad you found your answer and feel such peace! I'm sure he'll use this time to work powerfully in you!