I know this is going to sound crazy (especially because of my last blog post), but I have changed my “college” plans… I am still going to Bethany Global University, in Minnesota, this August, but I will not be going for the bachelor’s degree (4 years) like I had thought, but for a 4-month Bible and discipleship program called LEAD (stands for Leadership, Evangelism, and Discipleship)! There are 3 phases of the program – Discipleship, Leadership, and Evangelism, in which we will be learning and growing in our relationship with God and each other (living on campus, as a little Christian community), digging deep into God’s Word and having daily teaching and small group time to discuss what we are learning, growing in our strengths, personalities, and spiritual gifts, and then learning how to use who we are as God’s children and the Truths that we know in Him to impact the world around us, wherever we go!
Here is the link, if you want to check it out! https://leadintern.com/internship/
Why did I change my mind? Well, several reasons. As you might already know, as soon as I found BGU, I just knew it was where I was going! Everything about it is just so amazing! They have a handful of different degrees and programs to choose from, but the bachelor’s degree was the first one I came across, so I just kinda picked that one I guess. I was so excited, that I didn’t really consider that maybe it wasn’t the one I really wanted to do… (Probably not the smartest thing to do if you are making a decision affecting 4 years plus the rest of your life) haha!
As time passed and the initial excitement wore off a bit, I had really been pondering whether or not I really wanted to do this thing. 4 years away from home is a big commitment. 16 months in India is a big commitment. Not to mention the money commitment. And I didn’t really want to commit. I didn’t want to leave my family and friends, and everything I have here in PA. There are so many reasons why I didn’t want to leave for that long! But, I surrendered it to God, and told Him I would willingly go if that’s what He wanted! I knew I would learn, grow, and experience so much, and it would all work out! He works all things for our good! (Romans 8:28)
I was struggling with the idea that this was “God’s plan for my life”. This was what He had told me to do, and I didn’t want to just not do it because I was being selfish (There’s a lie I was entertaining, and had to throw out.) With all of the confirmations and different situations regarding BGU, I knew that I needed to go there, and I would really regret it if I didn’t.
I was praying about it, and praying about it. I was dreading leaving, while being excited for whatever God would do through it if I went, surrendering, while choosing to realize that I didn’t have it all figured out. A rather humbling place to be in, and I’ve been learning so much! (I didn’t tell anyone I was having doubts about going. Because, “What is wrong with me? I should be completely happy. My mind is made up. This is where God wants me to go. Isn’t it?!”) Looking ahead felt like I was in the middle of a forest, discovering how much was really in there, how beautiful it is and how much I really have to learn! I was confused, but I knew the fog would clear, and I would know just what I really needed, what the next step to take would be!
So now, the other day, I just had this urge to go to BGU’s website once again, and the first thing that popped up was LEAD, the 4-month program that I hadn’t taken notice to before. Coincidence? Nope, I don’t believe in those 😉 As I read all about this program, I knew it was just what I wanted. I could go on about it for a while, but I have a lot more to say, so I won’t. One big advantage, obviously, is that it’s 4 months long, not 4 years! And there is so much goodness packed into those 4 months! Except, there is no 16-month internship in India. And I know I am going there someday! But, now I know it isn’t something I need to worry about right now. Maybe it’ll be in 2 years, or 5, or maybe 10 or 40. I know that it will happen, and now I’m just resting in knowing that God has this amazing way of working everything out. He always does 🙂
Later on that day (when I found LEAD), those doubts crept back in again, but this time, I reached out to some others. I talked to my mom about it, and made a group chat on Facebook, sending out a request for prayer, which felt so great! The responses were so encouraging, and it was wonderful to know that there were people praying for me! I went to bed a while later, crying out to God for clarity and peace in the decision I would make. As I woke up the next morning, there was calm in my heart, and a sweet little melody in my throat.
One of the first things I was reminded of is that His Love never changes. I know this is a pretty simple thing that we read and hear all the time, but I just needed to hear it that morning. I knew that He would love me the same, no matter what choice I made. He wouldn’t love me any less for making the “lesser choice” of 4 months instead of 4 years. He wasn’t upset with me for changing my mind. There is nothing I could do that would disappoint Him or make Him love me any less. He delights in me, no matter what I do!
I was reminded of Romans 8:28 – “And we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”
I was comforted with this verse, knowing that He’s always at work, and it’s always for our good! No matter what choice I would make, He would teach and grow me so much through it! I had asked Him to make clear to me what choice He wanted me to make; ultimately, which one was His Will. And He replied that either one would turn out absolutely wonderful! There was no “wrong choice”, and no specific one was “His Will”.
This is a challenging thought, because so many people talk about “God’s Will for their life” like it is a certain choice they make or a specific thing they do, a set of rules we have to follow or a specific road all mapped out by God that we have to be ever-so-careful to listen to each direction and follow it precisely. This sounds an awful lot like the endless sacrificing of animals in the Old Testament, or the Egyptians and all of their gods – not a comforting thought, though it’s all around us. We can get so caught-up in religion, rules, and steps to take that *might* make God happy with us, though true Christianity is a relationship with the God who formed us, gives us life, and lives inside of us. His Will is not for us to keep a set of rules because we are afraid of what He’ll do if we mess up. His Will is to know each one of us, personally and intimately, and for us to know Him, not just know about Him. His desire is to have our hearts, not all of the good things we do for Him, to get His approval. Because we already have His Approval. He sent Jesus to suffer and die for us. We were worth it to Him! He tore that veil into His Glorious Presence, so we could walk with Him once again. Jesus was the Perfect Lamb, the Last Sacrifice. Now we are free, to live in His Presence as the righteous children of God!
Yes, He tells us that to love Him is to obey Him, and that we need to be listening and attentive to His Voice. But this relationship is not maintained through rule-keeping; it’s through communion with Him. When we are with Him, we become more like Him! As we receive His Love, we are able to love more and more – love Him, ourselves, and others! All of the Law is fulfilled in this Love! When we have this Love, we live out of it, and He is evident in our lives. We become the salt and light of the world. We become conduits of His Life to this dieing world. This is His Will – to be known and to know. To live in and through us.
Okay, back to those morning thoughts. I felt Him say, “This is absolutely your choice to make. You are free to do whatever you think is best, without having any regret because you think I am not pleased. I am perfectly in love with you, and nothing will change that.”
I thought about my friends and family. I thought about everything I would miss out on if I left for 4 years. I thought about my siblings, nephews, and all of the precious little ones I love – how much of their lives I would miss seeing. I thought of my friends, and how much I would miss each of them, even though I would make many new friends at BGU. I thought of how much I would be missed. (I know there are plenty of people who leave home like this all the time, but I was not desiring or ready to)
And later that day, I made a phone call, switching to LEAD, completely at peace. Because I want to be here. I need to be here! I cannot “move on” and leave these ones behind, even for 4 years. Some of the best opportunities of my life are right in front of me. Some of the greatest people are all around me. I will cherish these next 5 months, investing in the ones God has given me to love. Then I’ll go to LEAD, soaking up all I can, learning to love more, worry less, and becoming more of who He’s made me to be. In December I’ll come home, more equipped for the next season, whatever it may hold
(Thank you so much to everyone who has prayed for me, especially when I sent that message, those who have encouraged me, and for the ones who helped me make the decision to chose LEAD, by being my closest family and friends 🙂 )