At the end of September I decided to stay in Zambia for two years. I had already committed to a year with Village of Hope Africa, but was open to staying for two going into this.
I felt no pressure from my directors, or anyone else really. I felt torn – I loved the work that I was doing, I loved being in Zambia. I felt content staying, I felt content leaving – and plus…I had JUST started. How was I supposed to know right now that I wanted to stay for two years? So I did what I always do when I have no idea what to do. Pray.
Before I had even stepped foot on Zambian soil, I had been praying that God would make it clear to me whether or not I should be staying for a year or two. I felt no clarity, but kept thinking to myself that maybe it was because I didn’t need to know right now. But when I started to realize that the person who would replace me would need to know so that they could take a year to support raise and prepare like I had done, things started to get much more real. So I decided to step things up a notch – I decided to fast and pray. I know that in the Bible it talks about not letting others know that you are fasting – as if you are tired and hungry…so by telling you, this is not to seek attention or brag – not at all. It is solely for the purpose of sharing what God has done through that time of fasting and praying. I had actually never fasted and prayed, and had talked to my sister the week before where she told me how amazing it can be when we take those distractions away, and hear God clearer than ever. I didn’t fast from food, but from social media instead. I was in a conference all week and knew that I would be having lunch and dinner with groups of people, so fasting from food wasn’t going to work. I started to think about what distracted me the most from day to day and I knew that it was Facebook and Instagram. So anytime I thought about grabbing my phone to look at my newsfeed I would pray. And in the evenings when it was so tempting to lay on the couch and mindlessly scroll through Instagram, I read my Bible and prayed.
I learned two big things. First: It is insane just how much time I spend on social media. Secondly: God speaks LOUD and CLEAR when those distractions are put away and He is put first. While I prayed, I would simply tell God what I wanted (which was to stay and to go home – a little difficult) and asked Him to help me surrender to exactly what He wanted to me do. To change my heart if He was telling me to go this way, but I wanted to go that way.
It was about the third day into our meetings, and the different village directors were working in groups and I was setting up a power point. I was finished and as I waited for the groups my first instinct was to check my phone – so I prayed instead. And honestly, in that moment, God spoke to my heart so clearly. It wasn’t an audible voice, and it wasn’t anything big. He simply reminded me of what I had prayed two summers ago. I completely forgot that prayer. I was at the Village of Hope Chongwe and had prayed that God would provide an opportunity for me to serve overseas for longer term than just a month in the summer. In that moment, I remembered those prayers and thought to myself that this is exactly what I had been praying for. What was running through my head: There is a need, I am able to help fill it. My work permit had just been approved for two years, why leave after one? Just keep saying yes to God day by day and He will work out the rest.
Right then and there, in that conference room, I felt flooded with peace. It didn’t have to be a big deal – it didn’t have to feel like I was sacrificing everything else I wanted to do instead of this – it simply felt perfectly right, and exactly what I needed to be doing for this time.
It’s so easy to stress and wonder what God’s will is for us. But it’s really not as complicated as we make it out to be (something I need to remind myself of often). It is simply spending time with the Lord daily, telling Him what we desire, but being willing and ready to surrender that to Him if it doesn’t mesh with His plan for us, and saying yes to God day by day. He will make it perfectly clear.