So. Long time, no see, huh?
Well, this has been a really crazy year for me. Especially this second semester. But you know what God proves to me over and over again? He is so good.
You see, over Christmas break, I applied for a Summer Project called Safari Tanzania. Basically, the project involves two weeks traveling around Tanzania sharing the Gospel with Tanzanians. Freshman year of college, I sort of randomly decided to take Swahili as my foreign language. You know what language they speak in Tanzania?
Literally the day after all of my references were turned in, I got a phone call telling me I was accepted to the project!
…And a $500 deposit was due on February 1, which was about fourteen days away.
I was shocked. I most certainly did not have $500 in my bank account. I felt like God was teasing me or something. Just dangling this opportunity in front of my face. I was like, “Come on God. I want to do this for You. Can’t You just make it all work out for me?!”
I did a lot of whining and complaining about how unfair it was that I got accepted but didn’t have $500. I half expected that God was just upping the ante. You know, like He would wait until there was only one day left and then suddenly, He would swoop in and the scholarship that I’ve been waiting on all month would suddenly appear in my bank account. The other half of me expected that God was teaching me a lesson. Some sort of lesson on how you can’t always get what you want or something.
But look at that last paragraph. Even the half of me that believed God would swoop in at the last minute was justifying away exactly how God would do it. I was planning things out to happen so that God couldn’t fail me. I really wanted God to provide me with this $500, but I was too afraid of being disappointed to straight out ask Him for it. So instead, I hinted to God about what I wanted to happen. And I used a scenario that was incredibly likely and possible. That way, even if God wasn’t willing to give me the money for the deposit, it was possible that the scholarship money would come anyway and I would still get my way.
And all the while, I comforted myself with things like, “I just need to learn to be happy with whatever God’s plan is, even if it doesn’t involve going to Tanzania this summer,” and “Maybe this isn’t what I need to do this summer,” and “You know what? It might even be better if I don’t go. You know, it would make things so much easier.”
But the truth was, I really wanted to go. I still really want to go. And after some conversations with some really Godly people in my life, I finally started asking, no, more like pleading, begging, God to give me the money for the deposit. And you know what? It felt really good.
It felt really good to just tell God the truth. To tell God, “Yes, this is what I want!” To tell God, “I trust your plan. I want what’s best for me, and only you know that. But please, can this be your plan for me?” It felt really good to stop pretending for God.
So often, I get this feeling that I have to pretend for God, as if He doesn’t already know exactly what I’m thinking. I often refuse to tell God what I want, as if I’m afraid that if I want the wrong thing, He’s immediately going to punish me for it. Or if I ask Him for something, and then He doesn’t give it to me, well, what then? What do I believe about God if I ask Him for something and He doesn’t do it?
I think a part of me believes that if I want it, it must be wrong. So if it’s something I want, I have to use all sorts of trickery and sneaky backdoor requests to get it.
But that’s so untrue. The God who created me and you is a God who delights in blessing His children. He likes to give us the desires of our hearts!
And even though I spent so much time doubting Him and hinting to Him instead of straight out requesting, He didn’t hold it against me.
Sunday night, an envelope with my name written in cursive appeared on my kitchen table.
That envelope had $500 in it.
Dang! God is SO good!
He supplied the desires of my heart. And He took all of my silly, simple, ordinary plans and handed them right back to me. Because God doesn’t need the ordinary. God loves to work with EXTRAORDINARY plans… Plans we can’t even think up.
But the story doesn’t end there.
Because last weekend, when I went to write a check for my Little 500 team, I happened to see an old check stub. It was a payment from last fall that I had completely forgotten about. You see, I had loaned someone $65 to go on Fall Retreat last semester and told them to just pay me back whenever. And then of course, I forgot about it entirely, because that’s not the kind of thing I usually choose to take up brain space with.
And then last weekend, I saw it, and I realized that this friend of mine had forgotten to pay me back. I thought about saying something to this friend, but the more I thought about it and talked to God about it, I just didn’t feel like that was right. Because in the grand scheme of things, I knew it didn’t really matter. I knew that if they never paid me back, it would be for a good purpose. I also knew that it would be for selfish reasons if I brought it up to my friend, said in a moment of panic. And I knew that once again, that would be taking matters into my own hands. God doesn’t need that. He can give me what I need without me scraping the bottom of the bucket, without me squeezing every last drop out of the things I can already count on.
And God far exceeded my wildest dreams. Tonight, I happened to get the chance to spend some time with that same friend, and within the first few moments we were together, this is what happened:
My friend said, “I have a present for you!… Remember that one time you loaned me the money to go to Fall Retreat? I totally forgot to pay you back until today! So here’s $65.”
Or at least it went something like that. But yeah. For real… Do you even realize how incredible this is! I mean come on, it had been at least four months since I had loaned my friend that money, if not longer. Both of us had completely forgotten about it for at least four months. And then suddenly, my friend remembers! I don’t know about you, but usually, if I’ve forgotten about something so entirely for so long, I don’t just suddenly think about it, completely out of the blue! No, I am convinced that my friend’s sudden memory of this was from God.
And in yet another amazing way, God provided for me.
I’ve still got about $2500 or so to raise for this trip, and I’m going to start asking (not hinting or whining) God to provide this money. I know that God is so much greater than $2500.
And I know that God delights in providing the desires of my heart.
And I know that the story doesn’t end here…