It’s Jan 16. I have never once thought about this until literally this very moment. I’m currently reading 100 Days to Brave by Annie F. Downs. I’m on day 65 of 100. Today’s devotion was about “divine detours” or as Annie says, “His way of getting you to look up at Him and be brave enough to ask the hardest of hard questions,” like, are you trusting the way that God asks you to when you commit to following Him (148)? At the end of the devotion, it asks you to identify some of the divine detours of your life and think about how God used them to get you where you are today. While I was thinking, it hit me. The summer of 2016.
In 2016, I was really starting to grow and pursue a life running hard after God. My heart for the nations was stirred and I decided I would take a trip to West Africa. I sent out support letters and saved up some money so that I could finance the entire trip. The Lord provided for me and used some wonderful people to donate so I could make my trip. Each week that passed left me more excited than the one before. The Lord had TRULY called me here. He TOLD me to do it. He provided a way for me to go. He was softening my heart for the K people and I spent so much time thinking about them and praying for them.
FINALLY. We were 3 months out. 3 MONTHS. And I would be on the ground in West Africa. The excitement was growing HOUR BY HOUR. And then I got the call that the trip was cancelled. MAN. I was suuuuuper bummed.
What the heck!? I was putting myself out there. I was beyond ready to share this firey passion that had so greatly invaded my soul with the people group that had done the same. How the heck, GOD, am I supposed to share YOU with people IF MY TRIP IS CANCELLED!?!?! I KNEW I was on the right track. I KNEW I was doing the right thing. You’re probably thinking, “Chilllllll duuuuude, it’s not like this was a one-time thing!” And you’re totally right. It wasn’t. In fact, my church takes trips at least twice a year. So…what’s the big deal? Other people go through REAL heartbreak and loss and don’t get another opportunity again, ever. I don’t know why I was so sad! I honestly couldn’t tell you, other than the fact that I HAD A PLAN and it was NOT working out the way it was supposed to. And if you know anything about the enneagram, I’m a 6. That should tell you all you need to know. I’m a worrier, I’m a “worst case scenario” type person, and I’m all about justice and in some ways, fairness. And this, this just wasn’t FAIR (lol, yes, I see how ridiculous, hush).
Why would God have given me this opportunity and then just take it away like that? I had huge love for these African people that I had never met and I just didn’t know why God would give me that love for them if I wasn’t going to be able to meet them when I was “supposed” to. It may seem silly, but I truly was heartbroken. Weird, maybe, but real? Absolutely.
And another thing…how embarrassing…ALL THESE PEOPLE had given me sooo much money to help me finance my trip, and now I wasn’t even going. Of course, the money could stay in an account and I could use it later, but at that very moment that didn’t matter to me, not even kinda. So, naturally, as any normal 20-something would do, I called the two wisest people on the planet, mom and dad. And naturally, they let me do what the two wisest people on the planet should do in a situation like this…they just let me cry for awhile. After the tears subsided, my dad said these words: “Sis, you’re not going for a reason. There’s either something there that you DON’T need to be there for, or something HERE that you DO need to be here for. We might never know what it is. But we don’t need to know.”
Welp. Today. I realized what it was.
I didn’t go to Africa that summer. Instead, I went to El Salvador on my very first international mission trip. In El Salvador, I ended up on a mountain top, working with a church named El Tanque. The week was spent ministering to kids and young adults from the community, and it ended up being one of the most fantastic experiences of my life thus far. I learned a lot about God and His graciousness, about flexibility, about community and worship, and lots and lots about patience.
But on the very first day of ministry, I had the wonderful opportunity to craft a cotton ball beard for a goofy guy who was going to share the good news of Jesus with a room of screaming 5 year-olds. And let me tell you…as soon as he started talking, my ears perked up and I was extremely intrigued. Long story short, after that week, a friendship began and after a few months, I realized he was a catch. Remember when I said I learned lots and lots of patience? After a LONG AND TREACHEROUS (and sometimes confusing) 8 months of getting to know one another and just truly becoming the very best of friends, said goofy guy finally came around and asked me out. And praise the LAMB that he did. Because in 72 days, he’s gonna be my husband! Divine detours, man. Divine. Detours.
Would I have met him later, if I would have gone to Africa instead of El Salvador? I don’t know. If I’m being honest, I’m not one that really believes in soul-mates. I don’t really think that we were DESTINED to be together. Here’s how I think you find the one—you happen to find someone you enjoy and CHOOSE to love, and then you decide, “Yep, I wanna do this for the rest of forever.”
So, I can’t say that I am certain that we would have connected in a different scenario. Maybe…but I don’t really wanna take my chances in going back in time to find out. I’d rather just believe that God chose to bless me with the ultimate divine detour, circa summer 2016.
“The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the person who seeks him." Lamentations 3:25
“Now if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with patience." Romans 8:25