What If I Stay?

It was one o’clock in the morning, and I still couldn’t fall asleep. For many of you, that might not be anything strange. But for me – a person who is neither an early bird nor a night owl, one who loves her pillow almost as much as her friends and family, a girl who considers 8 hours too short to be considered a good night’s sleep – it was weird. Not only was I awake, I was restless. I promise, I didn’t have any coffee or tea that day, I had been pretty active, and I didn’t take any naps; I should have no reason to be wide awake. Unless…

With a sigh I got up and walked out to the living room. Kneeling down, I began begging God to say whatever He had to say so that I could go to sleep. I knew it must be important for Him to keep me awake this late, so I tried earnestly to open my ears, listening for what He wanted to tell me.

“I want you to stay,” said the still, small Voice.

“God, we’ve already had this discussion,” I retorted. “I need to finish school in three years, and I can’t do that if I stay another year here.”

“But what if you could… Then would you stay?”

“Maybe… But God, one of my best friends is graduating next year and I’m afraid I’d never see her again if I don’t go back.”

“Do you love her more than me?”

I paused. “No, God, I suppose I don’t love her more than you.”

“Do you love school more than me?”

“No.”

“Your family?”

“No…”

“Your plans for the future?”

“[Sigh] No…”

“Do you trust me?”

Do I trust God? I always say that I do, but don’t I always have a back-up plan in case I don’t like His? Don’t I have a habit of planning out my future and then asking for His blessing instead of letting Him lead? I’m afraid even though I “trust” God, I find it hard to let Him take control. I may have Jeremiah 29:11 memorized, and I claim to believe it, but when it comes down to putting faith into practice, I usually get cold feet and decide take the wheel back from Him. Letting God drive just feels too risky sometimes. “Your will be done” is a common way I end my prayers, but often times it’s just my way of saying, “I really hope my will is Your will, because if this doesn’t pan out, I’m blaming You.”

As the thought of staying for longer than a year began to marinate in my mind, thousands of questions began tumbling around such as, “What will my parents think? How will I raise the money? Why do I even need to stay anyway? Isn’t one year of service enough? How am I supposed to graduate on time if I stay longer?” I didn’t have answers, but I decided to explore the possibility. Since I was still wide awake, I began looking at the course requirements for my degree at Andrews and I discovered that if I took some online classes and had a few overload semesters, I could potentially still graduate on time if I stayed on for another year.

“Didn’t I tell you it could work?” He whispered.

I wanted to be annoyed, but instead, a small amount of excitement began to develop. If I stayed longer, I would be able to continue teaching my students whom I had formed a strong attachment to, I would be around for another Christmas concert (last year’s left much room for improvement), and I wouldn’t have to abandon the friendships I’ve just begun to develop. Most importantly, I would be able to continue deepening my relationship with God, which is a thing that is much easier to do without the distraction of school and a demanding social life. The more I thought about it, the more appealing the idea became. Before making any hasty decisions, I made a deal with God: if He didn’t provide someone to replace me by March 15, I would commit to staying. If someone did apply by then, I would still be just as content to go home as planned. It was in God’s hands now, and I left it up to Him to decide whether I would stay or go. I finally felt at peace, and having given the matter over to God I quickly fell asleep.

The next day, after more careful research on just exactly how many more credits I had left in order to graduate, I discovered that there were some classes only offered in the spring of 2018. That would mean I couldn’t stay a full year and still graduate in three years; I would have to come back after Christmas so that I could take the necessary classes. I consulted God on the matter once more. If He wanted me to stay a full year, He would have to convince my teachers to somehow make an exception for me and let me take those classes during other semesters. I was highly doubtful that they would do that, but you never know what God will do.

I went ahead and told the career missionaries that I was thinking of staying on at least another semester if not a full year. I told them of my deal with God to provide another SM to replace me by March 15 if He wanted me to go home; if not, I would stay. The team assured me they would pray for God’s will to be done, and they seemed very relieved that they didn’t have to worry so much about finding a replacement for me. I began emailing my advisors to see what they had to say on the matter, but knowing how busy they were I didn’t really expect an answer for a couple of weeks at least. In the meantime, I began earnestly praying for God to show me His will, whether I should stay for a semester, a full year, or not at all.

Long story short, March 15 came and went with no applications for my position. My advisors eventually emailed me back saying that it would be fine to stay another semester, but a full year would be a bit difficult. After talking with my parents and AFM staff, I made the decision to stay for another semester. I’ll be leaving December 28 now instead of July 28. I’m excited to see what God does here as a result of my decision, and I’m certainly happy to let Him have control of my plans once more.

Sometimes I’m in awe of how crazy yet beautiful my life becomes when I give up my own plans for God’s. When I decided I wanted to become a student missionary (back when I was about 13 years old), I never dreamed God would bring me to Thailand. I never really planned to do mission work in any Asian country; it seemed too far away, and the language barrier would certainly prevent me from doing any real good. Yet here I am, loving every minute and making all sorts of friends, whether we speak the same language or not. I’m so grateful that He brought me here, and I’m thankful for the chance to spend a few more months with these dear people. While I didn’t plan to do a lot of things that led me to where I am today, God has a way of messing up my plans and showing me that letting Him take the wheel is the best plan for everyone involved.

Comments

Hi Anna,
We are so excited that you are letting God lead you in this very important time of your life.  And we are especially excited that you will still be there when we expect we will be coming to live in your community by late this fall.  There are lots of variables that have to be worked out still but we are praying much as well.  Isn’t it great to be on this journey with Jesus!!! 
We love you Anna and pray for you every day. 
Ps. Bruce and Dorothy Hayward

By Hayward on March 30 2017, 11:24 am

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