For the past nine weeks I have been living in the USA, the countryside of Wisconsin to be exact.
Gorgeous wooded landscapes, acres of farmland, snow-capped hills and wood houses of various colours and sizes (wood houses are not common in England). On a daily basis I see animals I rarely, if ever, get to see in my home city: grazing cows and ash coloured, rust coloured and sandy coloured horses; beautiful creatures of God freely roaming on their owner’s property, bur-covered manes tell-tell signs of their daily mischief. This is the Wisconsin I see.
We almost hit a deer one night (not uncommon in these parts), a beautiful young doe. She ran out into the road and in that moment I fully understood the expression “a deer caught in the headlights”. She was terrified. She had gotten herself into an unfamiliar situation. Perhaps this had happened a few times before, but the experience was always somehow alien and frightening and she could never get used to it. I can relate to this on some level. I have travelled a bit in my time (in the past twenty months alone I have stayed in six countries) and met so many people along the way. Each time brings a little of the “this is alien to me” feeling. It can be a bit scary at times (especially the meeting new people part), but I feel all that and do it anyway. My visit to the States has been like that, with a dash more nerves and a little more uncertainty because my visit this time around was not purely recreational. I am visiting my boyfriend (now fiancé) and met his family for the first time.
Wherever I travel and whomever I meet my Lord has always gone ahead of me. Opening doors and preparing hearts. You see I am a city girl who loves the countryside and hates dirt (and typically with one there is the other!) A city girl who embarked on another journey several thousand miles away from “home”, to encounter and make friends with a different culture: a different way of living, thinking and speaking. I found beauty in these differences and comfort in the similarities, especially among the womenfolk. Love for family and passion for the things you believe in are universal, no one has a claim on these.
Being among them I have realised that we share two common threads: a love for Jesus and a love for my fiancé. One is foundational for all of us and the other is very important to all of us. I have already learnt from them in such a short space of time; from the acceptance of God’s timing, to the importance of home-schooling, to the struggle of relinquishing complete and utter control of circumstances in your life to God. Love and joy is a reality here, but so are pain, sadness and heartache. Picking up the pieces when: a loved one suddenly leaves to meet our Creator and the grief seems almost too much to bear, when: your miracle child that was wonderfully formed in your womb keeps amazing you throughout his own struggle and you keep finding new strength each day in the One that created you both.
This is where I find my soon-to-be family: tangible, flesh and blood children of God. And in this I am growing; loving them as they are in all their familiarity and learning to give grace for the unfamiliar. In this I realised that right now God’s ultimate work in me is not revealing my exact, specific, defined and (neatly) carved out purpose for me on this earth. No, it is changing my character so that it is exact, specific, defined and (neatly) carved out for His purposes on this earth. I am stripped down and pieces of me that no longer need to be there are being chipped away, everything else is being filed, refined, and smoothed into something that resembles Him more. Throughout this I am being challenged and yet I have never felt so loved; He is taking the time to make me whole, how awesome is that!
See I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.
The wild animals honor me, the jackals and the owls, because I provide water in the desert and streams in the wasteland, to give drink to my people, my chosen,
the people I formed for myself that they may proclaim my praise.