Have you ever felt called to something? To someone? Somewhere? Have you ever experienced that pain when it all falls apart?
Earlier this year I travelled out to South Africa to lead a multicultural team on an ICS trip, I went because I was called. I believed, and still do, that God was sending me to do mission work abroad. I had a heart for social justice and after praying about it for months, decided South Africa was where I needed to go. I got on the plane full of confidence that I was doing the right thing, God was in it, so how could it not be? The first two weeks were great and I was so excited for what lay ahead. What followed, however, was the hardest, most painful three months of my life, and I returned to the UK in pieces. I couldn’t understand how my loving God could have sent me somewhere so difficult, I went because he called, and it hurt. If I’m honest, it still hurts. My faith in God had grown stronger whilst I was away but as I tried to adjust back to normal life, with the weight of it all on top of me, I began to feel abandoned. Why had he sent me there? Why did I have to experience something so painful? And what was I supposed to do now?
After burning through my savings with the attempt of retail therapy, I took up some part time work as I tried to figure out my next move. Nearly three months after I returned I was balancing on a knife edge, about to fall. I was alone in the dark desperately trying to keep a flame going. I was due to go to HTB Focus with Tearfund for a week, but I couldn’t imagine anything worse. Even though I had previously loved attending the festival, the idea of being surrounded by worship filled me with dread. There was a moment the day before I was due to leave and I felt my heart crumble. I didn’t want to follow God’s plan anymore, I wanted out.
But I went. I had made a commitment to be there and I wanted to see that through.
On the second day of being there I found out I didn’t get the job I so desperately wanted and felt more lost than ever. I begrudgingly went and sat at the the back of the evening talk, seeking the escape from the cold rather than anything else.
The talk was about Esther. About her purpose. And about mine.
The woman speaking started saying that there was one person here that this talk was specifically for, that this person had a breakdown just two days before hand, that they were here for a reason, that God hadn’t made a mistake and they just needed to be prepared to wait and listen. I became overwhelmed and when they did a call for prayer at the end I forced myself to go forward. The woman giving the talk came up to me to pray and said quietly ‘That was for you wasn’t it?’.
I continued the week on edge to see what was going to happen. I knew something would. And then I bumped into an old friend. She told me about this great church plant up in Nottingham that she was involved with, and this intern programme which helped young leaders grow. I quickly dismissed the thought of applying – I had done a year of interning already, a year of seven day weeks and no money, as much as I loved it, it was tough and I didn’t want to do it again. But I couldn’t get it out of my head.
Towards the end of the week there was a talk on church planting, of the ones that had been set up in the last year, and the ones starting in the coming months. I got so excited. I was so desperate to be a part of it, and I could feel God giving me that nudge. There was a call for prayer for future leaders at the end and I knew I had to go up. God was saying ‘Don’t think about it, don’t plan it, just go and see what happens.’ As I stood at the front with 30 other young adults they scanned across us with the camera and apparently my face appeared on the big screen. As I headed back to my seat my phone buzzed, my friend from Nottingham had seen me and felt God telling her to talk to me. Within minutes I had met the intern from the previous year and had been invited to dinner at their campsite. There, I met some more of the team and it all clicked. This was where I needed to be. I had absolutely no idea what I’d be doing or where it would lead but I knew I had to test the waters.
Back home I spent a lot of time talking and praying about it, and I received so much confirmation and provision, I knew it was the right thing.
So here I am. Within five weeks I quit my job and moved to Nottingham to be a part of this crazy yet exciting adventure. It’s been a rocky start but I believe more than ever that I am in the right place.
I still don’t know why I had to go through something so painful earlier this year, and learning to trust in God’s plan is a struggle each day, as it is for so many, and honestly it sucks, but I can feel it in the depth of my being that it’ll be worth it.
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