BY WAY OF THE WILDERNESS

Sometimes, life doesn’t turn out the way we planned. The death of loved ones, unemployment, unfulfilled dreams, failed relationships, denied visas, sickness… the list goes on.

There are some chapters in life that we just don't understand. They seem to derail us from the journey we expected to be on, the milestones we thought were certain. All of a sudden, we find ourselves on a different path, reeling with grief, confusion, and anger. We want answers, we want clarity, but these don't come. It's in these moments, that we approach a fork in the road, leaving us with two options. Do we continue to trust that He's good? Do we press in to believe the truth that He's got this; or do we allow for doubt to be planted into our souls and start questioning His goodness? Is He really a God to be trusted? 

In my own journey, I’ll admit that I usually pick the doubting side first. I currently live in Paris, France. I didn't expect to be here and I wasn't looking to come. My goal had always been to live in the Middle East, and I did that, for several years! But that chapter ended, and as I boarded my final flight home, I was left to wonder, what next?

As I followed an ambiguous journey searching for that answer, I knew the Lord was asking me to trust 100%. If I was honest with myself, I couldn't do it. I didn't want to. There were too many variables, too many unknowns, too many fears and doubts. I could trust him with the 90% but I couldn't trust him with the 10%.  Why? Because the way in front of me was still dark. There was - and still is - a high possibility that it may always be dark. 

We all have these dark places, dark because they aren't illuminated with answers. Answers to simple questions; when, why, how? But we need to continue forward through them. God wants 100%. We have to choose to believe that he really is a God to be trusted. That He is a good God, even though we can't always see what's in front of us. Even though we may not have the answers to questions, or understand a sudden change of direction. 

It's really easy to trust Him when we know the outcome, when we now how it's going to end. It's really easy to trust when things are going smoothly and we can see around the corner. But when things happen that we don't understand, when we get sidelined, delayed, detoured, or halted it's easy to doubt and question. 

My ambiguous journey took me to the option of moving to France, and I stepped towards it, knowing it was where God wanted me to be. But when I went to apply for my visa, I was told with a resounding no, that I couldn’t have that visa. As I said, the doubting side comes first. 

What if I'm wrong? Maybe I'm not supposed to go to France? Why did You deny me a visa? I’m supposed to be there in two weeks, now what? However, I didn’t feel I should give up. I went back a week later after another appointment miraculously opened up, armed for round two. This time, it worked. They barely looked at my documents and told me to come back in five days. So I got my visa, on day five, the day before I was scheduled to fly.  

Read Exodus 13:17-22

Sometimes we can barely see our feet in front of us. It's the most we can do to put one foot in front of the other, following the cloud and fire we know are there, but maybe can't see clearly. Trust is a blind journey, and the Lord sometimes detours us by way of the wilderness. Perhaps to avoid danger, perhaps to teach us a bit about ourselves, perhaps even just so we can be thankful for the water that greets us at the end. The Lord cares too much about the condition of our souls and hearts. It’s in moments like these He teaches us further depth of trust and continues to shape our character. He will surely take care of us. He's got this. Even though we may not know what’s next, there's peace in trusting the journey. 

Sarah Schepens currently lives Paris where she is the intern coordinator with Envision . She lived in Ecuador and Thailand before getting her MA in Intercultural Studies. She most recently lived in the Middle East developing interns and working with women in sustainable business. She passionately develops leaders and loves walking with them as they engage in different cultures, passions, and creative expressions. She appreciates all things beauty, fashion, expression, and unique creative outlets. When she's not out drinking [coffee] with friends or exploring new cities, Sarah loves cozy pants, slippers, lots o' blankets, and her favorite show.