I have gone through a lot of change in the last year. This time in 2012 I was sitting in an office working and day dreaming about what my life in Alaska would look like. I spent hours wondering how God would provide and about what the student and staff would be like. Wondering what winter in Alaska, or even just life in Alaska would be like often preoccupied my mind. In all that time I spent thinking I never realized how much I would learn in all this transition.
If time turned back and I was back there and knew what I knew now I would have done things a bit differently. Prayer would have been a bigger part of my day. I would have talked differently about what my role and this ministry look like. In my defense, I had no idea what I was walking into. I walked in excitedly (and still do), but I really was naive about what my life here would be like.
Most of the lessons I have learned are not intellectual. They have penetrated in deep and have changed the way I live. Transition has a way of taking me away from what is comfortable and familiar. In doing so, I am vulnerable to learning lessons that I would miss in the monotony and mundane routine of scheduled life. It’s a job to try to condense all I have learned, but I think I have some of the top lessons.
1. The Power of Prayer – When people talked about the sweet hour of prayer I sometimes wonder if they really are praying. Prayer is hard work and can be exhausting. I have prayed more and more fervently than ever before because of the experiences I have had here. Prayer have been answered and God has moved. I have been completely at a loss for what to do or say many times and I just pray – often and in great length. Because of that my faith has been challenged and built.
2. Living in Community is Beautifully Hard – When living in close quarters with people they rub on me. The good and bad of them rubs off on me and mine on them. Sometimes the rubbing sharpens and other times it does damage. I have had a lot of unhealthy and sinful patterns in my life exposed while living here. It’s been hard, but wonderful to see God using this process to refine me. I sin against others, they sin against me. I need to ask for forgiveness and I need to forgive. Most times it doesn’t happen that neatly, but working through sin and moving toward unity is amazing. It’s freeing and it reflects the love that God has for us. It’s definitely not easy, but it’s worth it. I am profoundly impacted by the lives of the beautiful women that I am privileged to call my housemates.
3. I Have So Much to Learn – There is so much out there that I just don’t know. I oftentimes have no clue what the right answer is, or even if there is a right answer to any given question or situation. I love learning and I want to continue to learn forever, but there are times when I just wish I knew right now. Learning takes time and it takes patience. There is one thing that I know for sure; I don’t have all the answers and it’s hard having people depending on me to teach. I am learning along with them and sometimes I feel like God is teaching me more than those that I am supposed to be teaching.
4. Human Expectations Are Awful – Having a title is intimidating. It makes me feel a lot of pressure. When people have unmet expectations if causes a lot of hurt, disappointment, anger, and the list goes on. Whether or not people are willing to admit it, we all have them. We all get our feathers ruffled a bit when they go unmet. I have them for myself and I get frustrated with myself when I don’t meet them. In my mind I know they are too high, but I want to live up to them. Other people put expectations on me and I can’t possibly make everyone happy. But what if that’s not at all how life works? I am God’s workmanship. I am His and I only have to fulfill His purpose for me. I need only to live up to His expectations. The best part is, I just need to trust Him, and He will do the work in me. How amazing is that?
5. Don’t Touch God’s Glory – It’s not my ministry. It’s not my time. It’s not my money, character, talents, life, etc. It’s all given to me by God and He is using me as His instrument to do His work. I cannot take credit for what I have not done. I take responsibility for the bad attitudes, harsh words, prideful thoughts, and impatience. But those moments when people are grateful for who I am or what I’ve done, those are the moments that it’s not me. It’s God at work. He is the artist working to create a beautiful result. I cause blemishes that He so gently fixes and turns into something that is worth looking at. I do hope that gazing on the canvas of my life give people a desire to meet the Creator. I don’t want people to get distracted by His masterpiece and ignore the Artist, who is worth far more than I am. Look to the one who does abundantly more than I can ever ask or imagine. His power is at work. Give Him the glory.