Wednesday, May 24, 2017

"trust Me, and take the next step"

During my time at Wheaton, I experienced some seasons of intense growth and others of quiet contentment.

I thought that my final season at Wheaton would be one of the quiet contentment variety. I expected to focus on strengthening old friendships and finishing strong academically, but I did not anticipate anything particularly noteworthy.

I thought wrong.

My last month at Wheaton was filled with the most concentrated and specific outpouring of the Lord's encouragement and preparation that I have ever experienced. This outpouring came on so many levels - through classes; through conversations with old friends, new friends, and total strangers; through well-loved poems and poems I encountered for the first time; through Scripture; through quiet assurances of the Lord's love and steadfast faithfulness.

This outpouring was multi-faceted. The Lord confirmed things I had known for a long time and revealed things I had never thought of before. He at once broadened and sharpened my vision and doused it with a double helping of wonder. I was alive to His presence and guidance and overwhelming grace.

To even begin to go into specifics would take a ridiculous amount of time. I spent the first week after graduation journaling all this and only finished after writing around 13,500 words. (By hand.) I will spare you that. But there was a common current in this flood of encouragement.

In some ways it all started one week that I had been uncharacteristically agitated and preoccupied. I finally came before the Lord in prayer, ready to lay my laundry list of worries and what-ifs before Him when He stopped my thoughts in their well-worn tracks.

"Be still and rest."

He gave me these words, and He gave my distracted soul the ability to be still and rest before Him. He recentered me in His presence. In the midst of my fretting, He reminded me of another time that He had spoken as I prayed.

Basically, He reminded me to trust Him. 

All year, as I figured out what to do after graduation, the Lord had been teaching me to trust Him and take the next step. That evening in March, He reminded me that this attitude applies not only to major life decisions but also to every moment of every day. I'm not supposed to know how a conversation will pan out. I don't need to figure out why I'm supposed to be in a given place at a given time. I don't need to overanalyze or be ready with a detailed plan of action for the best-case scenario, the worst-case scenario, and every scenario in between. 

As difficult as it is for this planner to admit, my job is not to know what the next step will lead to. My job is simply to take the next step as the Spirit leads and trust the Lord to provide the next step after that when He sees fit.

"Trust Me, and take the next step."

It seems so simple, so basic. 

It changed everything. Being tethered to the Holy Spirit, taking almost literally every step of every day in dependence on Him, led to unequaled freedom and confidence. (Paradox, yes; surprise, no.) 

It was this that opened my heart for the Lord to speak to me on so many profound levels as I walked through my last weeks at Wheaton. It is as if He said: "You think you're finished, but I still have more for you here - more joy, more fellowship, more growth. I'm not finished with you here." 

Not only was that season deeply life-giving at the time, but I know that it will be a source of consolation as I face a challenging year of transition. The Lord is faithful. Always. Faithful when He is pouring out encouragement and life by the bucketload, and faithful in the times when everything seems dry. I know that the changes He worked in me even in my last days at Wheaton will draw me closer to Him for a long time to come. I'm only beginning to learn what it looks like to truly trust Him and take the next step.

So as I rejoice in the Lord's work in and through me at Wheaton, as I grieve that my time at Wheaton is over, and as I step into my upcoming adventure in Germany, I'm resting in the Lord's faithfulness and eager to receive whatever grace He has for me. 

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