A few years ago I decided that if there was anything worth being an expert in, it was the Bible. Obviously there are plenty of other things you can be an expert in, but I had this fresh desire to know more about God in a way I hadn't previously. So I started listening to more sermons and podcasts, reading books and blogs, following different pastors and trying to glean as much knowledge as I could from people who are smarter than me - who knew more than me, especially in this area. I just knew that after very blatantly running away from God and finding no satisfaction in that, I finally wanted to listen and lean in to what he wanted for me.
Through all of this study, I came to a place where I felt like maybe I was too comfortable. I don't believe we should purposefully make life difficult - it's hard enough on its own sometimes - but what I mean is that I felt like I wasn't really putting myself out there. I wasn't being stretched. I wasn't at a point where I really relied on God every day because every day was pretty easy. I had my friends, family, community, church, job – everything was in order and I had a neat little circle drawn around my comfort zone. Still, in the deep part of my heart, I wanted to know if God had anything else for me so I started to pray that he would show me where to go next. I wish I had my journals here to show you but I wrote, “God, I think maybe I’m a little too comfortable. Break me out of this rut. Help me see where you would have me go.” A couple of lines later, I wrote, “I know that’s a dangerous thing to pray… .”Dangerous in the sense that when you open yourself up to God and ask him to do something, you better buckle up. I've been around long enough to know that he doesn't let those prayers sit idle.
When I moved to Hawaii last summer, I wasn't shy about how hard it was for me. I wrote about being in a new city and feeling out of place. I shared on Instagram about how life was so unfamiliar and I constantly felt like a lost moron. I've was pretty candid about how moving across the country was no walk in the park. But one day, as I stood at the sink washing dishes in my new house in Hawaii so far away from my friends, family, community, church, and job, I remembered that journal entry from a few of years ago. It was one of those illuminating moments where things suddenly come into focus. I was 4,000 miles away from all that I knew for 33 years, and my heart wanted to complain about being homesick. I wanted to cry out to God, “Whhhhyyyyy!” but in that moment, standing at my kitchen sink, I knew the answer. I'm standing there asking, "Why?" and God's like, "Um... remember how you asked for this?"
I prayed for this exact thing three years ago! I asked God to make me uncomfortable - to break me out of a rut - and guess what! My days were suddenly filled to the brim with uncomfortable. Moving was like a dropkick to the outside edges of my comfort zone. It's particularly funny because I used to tell people before Aaron was ever in my life, "I'm never moving (from Nebraska). The only way I would move is if I had a husband and his job took us somewhere else." I have to believe that God really busted a gut over that one when it happened because one of the reasons I moved here to Hawaii is because I married a man who already had a job here. LOL, God. I see you.
But when I wrote that prayer out three years ago, do you know what part of me thought that it would mean moving to Hawaii? Approximately zero percent. It wasn’t even a thought in the far reaches of my mind. I didn’t even really know Aaron at that point. When I wrote, “God, make me uncomfortable,” I thought maybe he would ask me to volunteer somewhere, give a little more money to a charity, branch out in my friend group a little bit, or go to a Bible study - certainly not pack up my entire former life and move to the middle of the ocean!
The thing about God is that he always desires to give us more. I was reading in Ephesians 1 and that part of the Bible reads a bit like a paper you start writing at 11:00 when it’s due at midnight. You’re trying to meet the minimum length requirement and it starts to sound a bit like, “I personally believe that the awesome, great, wonderful God who is magnificent and amazing, created us to be unbelievably…” throwing in as many adjectives as you can to maximize your sentences. We've all done it. But that’s how Ephesians reads - as if Paul couldn't possibly use enough adjectives to describe God and what he has for us.
“…blessed us with EVERY spiritual blessing…” (v.3)
“…according to the KIND intention…” (v.5)
“…according to the riches of his grace which he LAVISHED on us…” (v.7)
God desires to give MORE, not less. The devil would have us believe God is withholding, that he wants to take from us, but any amount of time in the Bible would show you that’s not true. God works in abundance – not scarcity. I could choose to believe that I’m out here in the ocean and have lost a lot – connections, familiarity, friends, etc. But instead I choose to believe that God has me out here to give me more – more of himself, more grace, more kindness, growing my compassion and empathy and understanding of where joy truly comes from. God made me uncomfortable in a way that I never saw coming - he answered that prayer - and I believe he is using it to give me more than I could ever have imagined. So even in homesickness, I know that he is using it to make me grow. God is pushing me to new things here, just like he can do for you in whatever circumstance you find yourself in. He will reveal more of himself to anyone who asks.
I have several situations in my life right now that I’m praying about consistently – specific friends that I want to see draw near to God, situations I want God to heal, places I want to see him move (I say see him move because he is always moving, even when we can’t see it) – and I know that he will. It might not be in my timing or in the way I would want him to, but I know he’ll answer. His abundance will overflow into those situations, just like he’s doing here in my circumstances now. Like I said, the fact that I'm married to a total dreamboat and living in Hawaii is proof positive that he hears us and answers our prayers.
So, what are you praying about right now? How do you hope God will answer? Write it down. My favorite thing is to write down prayers and watch for the ways he answers them in the coming weeks, months, and years. Some of mine have yet to be answered. Some of them have been answered in big, beautiful ways.
Newsflash: I'm still no Bible expert in any sense of the word, but I am consistently learning about who God is and what he has for me. And I know that leaning in to what he desires for you may not be easy - in fact it might be completely uncomfortable - but there is joy to be found in it. Your only shot at real joy is to seek him. Wholly believe that he is not withholding anything from you and keep your eyes open for the ways he is giving you MORE each day.
"...I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly."