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Facing the prospects of the difficult first week of school, I remembered one of the first assignments at the outset of the Fellows Program—writing a letter to ourselves. My letter had included a series of admonishments about putting both feet in and staying fully committed to what God wanted in and through the program. Taking my cues from that experience, I sat down and penned a letter to myself. Like God’s people in Deuteronomy 6, I was in desperate need of reminders about the nature of the task to which God called me. It wouldn’t be enough to live this year with a passive notion that God had once called and moved me; I needed a present reminder that God was still calling and still supplying.
So for several hours, on a rainy September night just before the first day of school, I sat in the same chair where I’d read for hours and hours during the prior year filling up my head and heart with godly wisdom; I penned myself a letter that would be the reminder of what it meant to fully obey Christ in this new location under these new circumstances.
The letter was really a pep talk. A note for the hard days. An exposition of the heart that drove the decision to leave the favorable for the ignored. A reminder of the gentle “follow me” I’d heard from Jesus during that November night when he had called me so specifically away from one life and into another. One week into this new place and I found myself repeating certain lines from the letter over and over again. It shouldn’t have been all that surprising that the very thing God had initiated he had used, but I continued to be surprised and loved through these holy coincidences.
Here are a few excerpts of what God revealed as I sat with my computer on that rainy night:
You followed the prompting to leave what was comfortable, what was enviable, and the place where your reputation was housed to go and see what God was talking about. You trusted him and you left your old school knowing it wouldn’t be easy, knowing that these days and months might bring you to tears, fully aware that you would be laying one life aside for another . . . Over the calendar year leading up to your new school, your word for the year was “control.” Everything about this decision gives the opportunity for God to have control or for you to keep it like you always have. Give all of this to God and be amazed by what he will do at that school. Jesus loved the poor, the unlovable, and the needy. Read his story and emulate his behavior. The vineyard is ripe and you are in it, so be good fruit. You won’t make it through this year, this school, this situation if you don’t let God do the work. You saw how the last year went, how you labored, how you felt, and how you had to go. Sometimes discomfort is a gift that lets us know that we can’t stay in that place anymore. You probably are hesitant to agree, but that pain prompted you toward God and as your pain increased, God gave you a vision for what he was calling you to in this next year . . .
Have you tasted him in the early mornings and long days at your school? You will feel tired. You will feel defeated. But you are not alone at that school. God goes before you. God goes with you. Have full confidence that for what he has called you, he has also prepared you . . . Your heart alone will not be able to take or understand all that will happen this year. You hope that it will be more than you can ask or imagine, but you fear that it will be more than you’re willing to give, more than you’re able to take, and harder than your heart can stand. Trials are how God loves you. Growth is evidence that you’re both in it together. So how did you grow? What do you know now that you didn’t know before? Did you give God the chance to be greater than you asked or imagined him to be?
Your year is not your year. It belongs to Christ. Put yourself in positions to trust him and watch him prove himself both worthy and spectacular. Be excited, for he called you here and he is prepared to make himself known at your school.
Keep your heart in this call, your hand in Christ’s, and have an amazing year.
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