A few of you have asked me why I decided to go back to Australia and how I felt this is what God was calling me to do. So I thought I would try to tackle this question and answer the all-important question – “WHY?!”
If I am honest, almost as soon as I arrived in Perth the place started to look very attractive to me, and I realised that this was the kind of place that I would like to live. Community is very important to me, and the idea of living in community with a group of people all on fire for Jesus and committed to go out into the world to love and serve others is a very appealing one. But I didn’t really think much of it until about Week 5, when other people started to talk to me about it. It was odd – but people who I had only known for 5 weeks started to come up to me randomly and say that they thought I would be good working here more long term. I took it as a massive compliment, but didn’t really see it as anything else.
And then Week 6 came – the topic for which was ‘Lordship, Authority and Submission’. Heavy stuff! Being completely honest, it was a difficult week. The lecturer that we had for the week was weird and wonderful to the extreme (in fact he is quite literally mad as a badger – in a good way) and my poor little head had difficulty keeping up with the pace of the lectures. But amidst the whirlwind of information that was being thrown my way, God started to speak.
The week was, not surprisingly, about making Jesus Lord of our lives. Getting rid of anything else that was getting in the way, and making sure that our priorities were in the right order; Jesus first, then everything else. In my quiet times God started challenging me about the things that I sometimes put before Him, the things that can sometimes prevent me from obeying what He has asked me to do. I realised that at the very top of this list was my family, who I love dearly, and who I have a terrible habit of trying to take care of/taking responsibility for myself, rather than entrusting them into the (much better!) care of God. Throughout the whole week I kept being challenged, this question continually going around in my head; ‘would I be willing to give up my family for Jesus?’ My plan had always been to do my DTS and then go back to the UK, get a youth work job and live happily ever after in the same country as my family! But what if God asked me to move overseas? Would I be able to let go of my family, trust, and obey?
By this point I was really starting to worry that it may not be a hypothetical question that God was asking of me. Probably not the best attitude to have I’ll be honest, but nothing had happened specifically to make me think that I should go into full time missions. After all, that’s what my big sister does, not me! But then one morning in lectures that all changed. Our lecturer for the week was asking us all what rights we felt that we had, and in order to make the point that we need to give up our rights, he would then go and do the exact opposite thing of what we said we valued. For example, one person said that they had the right to personal space, and so our lecturer then went and sat on his lap, stroked his face etc…it was funny to watch from the back – and gave me some time to think of something to say that might be a little bit more safe. I can’t actually remember what I said, but I do remember his response as if it was yesterday. Not moving, he looked me straight in the eyes and said with a smile “Welcome to YWAM Perth!” That was it. It was like an arrow had hit me right in the heart. Without even knowing it, my lecturer had spoken the words of God to me, and I knew that this was what God was asking of me.
But I still took some convincing. “What about my nephew God? I don’t know how long he will be living in the UK for and I want to spend as much time as possible with him. What about my family? I actually live in the same country as my sister right now and I’m really enjoying that. My mum will be really upset that I live so far away. What about youth work? I have a degree in it, so surely I should get a job doing that? I really like living in the UK, they have the NHS and an amazing flag and some really exciting stuff is going on in the Church and I totally want to be a part of that” etc…
I realised that I had a lot of reasons for wanting to stay in the UK and not going to live overseas. Maybe I imagined it then? It makes much more sense for me to stay in the UK, maybe I misunderstood what God was saying to me. Maybe it was just a coincidence….I tried to convince myself, but it just didn’t seem to stick. So I settled for this:
Ok God – if this is really you – if you are really asking me to move to the other side of the world, away from my family, friends, all the people that I love, and all that is comfortable and familiar to me, if that is really what you want me to do, then you will have to make it really really obvious. Because I’m a little slow, and I’m not going to do this unless I am absolutely, 100% certain that this is what you are asking me to do.
And that’s how I left it. I continued with my day, wondering if God would show up in some dramatic way or if the whole idea would fizzle out slowly and surely until I completely forgot that I had even considered it.
The next day I woke up and had ‘Jeremiah 42’ stuck in my head. Now, I don’t know if this has ever happened to you before, where you get this random Bible verse in your head, and you get all excited and wonder what it could be that God wants to say to you, and then you look it up in your Bible and its some random passage about the weight of silver that needs to be given as a sacrifice in the tabernacle along with 2 young pigeons and a dove?? It’s happened to me a lot. And I get really frustrated when I hear stories of people who have had dramatic intervention in their lives from God, seeing angels, Bibles opening up to certain scriptures, letters in the mail from unknown people etc. It’s annoying when people get direct instructions from God as to what they should do in their lives, because I don’t often get this and am instead left with questions as to whether I am doing the right thing or not.
So I half-heartedly reach for my Bible, expecting it to be some obscure passage that has nothing to do with anything (after all, it’s the book of Jeremiah, and I know nothing about the book of Jeremiah – my brain must be working in overtime to try and think of some response from God) when my eyes get to verse 10.
“If you stay in this land, I will build you up and not tear you down; I will plant you and not uproot for…”
Well my heart both flipped with joy and sank with terror all at the same time. In a split second a million thoughts went through my head. This really was what God was saying. I had heard the voice of God! God had specifically spoken to me through His Word – that never happens to me. Wow! God answered my prayer. Oh no! That means I’ve got to come back to Australia. I really do have to leave my family. I can’t ignore this. This has actually happened. No doubt, no denying it. It’s right there in front of my eyes. What am I going to do???!!
The rest is history. I spoke to some people, filled out some forms, and now, in 2 weeks, I will be leaving my life here in the UK behind, getting on a jet plane, and moving to the other side of the world. For 2 years at least. After that? Who knows! But I am sure God will make it clear to me at the right time. But what amazes me most is God’s faithfulness in it all. I will leave that for another post, but let’s just say that in the 9 months or so since this happened, God has continued to guide me and show me that this is what I need to be doing, and has opened doors, closed doors, and enabled all the things that I have needed to happen, to happen, in order for me to bring closure to all that has gone before, and move forward into the future with a bright hope. God really is good, all the time. And He speaks! How awesome to know that we serve a God who wants to communicate with us, and guides us along the path that He has laid out for us.