Right now, I sit in my little room waiting on God. I have been waiting a long time. Waiting on God can be hard, exciting, suffocating, excruciating, exhausting, exhilarating and definitely a learning experience.
what seemed like a shoe-in
Applying for visas seems like a straightforward thing. My team and I had planned on going to North Africa to teach English in a refugee camp among people who have been waiting for over thirty years. We have now been waiting eight weeks for visas that were meant to take three days. During this prolonged time I have asked a million questions:
Did I really hear God say to go to this place?
Did God change his mind?
Did I do something wrong to make this so long and hard?
Am I meant to learn something in the waiting or is it just part of the process?
Is it okay to be angry at God for this situation?
How do I hold onto hope for so long and not get bitter, discouraged, disappointed or give up completely?
That last question—that’s the kicker for me. I thought I was doing really well, and then this week, I lost it. ‘Not today’ was the answer once again; the same answer we have heard every day. I still hoped and believed that God was in control, but I was surprised by how devastated I felt about this particular ‘not today’. I lost all hope and any desire to work with refugees. I didn’t care anymore. I couldn’t hold on.
a slippery grip
I realized later that I had been hoping and holding on in my own strength, rather than God’s strength. God gave me a picture of a line of people playing that game where you hold hands and run while trying to whip the last person off the end. At different points over the past several weeks each of us has felt like the one on the end being thrown off. It was my turn. I felt like I couldn’t hold on any longer but God took my hands and kept me going. I realized I had always been willing to follow God on this journey, but I hadn’t trusted Him to carry me when I got tired. He carried me anyway. I still feel worn out but the funny thing is, I feel lighter.
I don’t know the reasons for this long journey. I’ve heard many loving people try to give me explanations for it:
- God works all things together for the good of those who love him.
- Maybe there is something God wants to teach you in this time.
- Maybe you didn’t hear God correctly and you aren’t meant to go.
Ultimately I don’t know why.
stuck in between
Throughout this process I have learned a little of the struggle that refugees have been going through for years. They are trying to go home, trying to get out of refugee camps, trying to live normal lives in the waiting. We have had a small taste of that life. It feels like purgatory, we cannot go back and we cannot go forward. It feels like it will never end, but it will, and when it does we will praise God whether we get the visas or not. Ultimately it’s in His hands and always has been.
We didn’t get our visas... and God is still good.