In January, I felt led for the first time ever to choose a defining word for the year, to keep me focused on my walk with the Lord. I've never bought in to this idea before, mostly because it seems cheesy, but this time I could not help but think of the word "abide."
And y'all. It keeps coming up. Message received, God.
I don't know if you've seen the hit film "Frozen 2" yet, but there's a song that Anna sings during a moment where she has never felt more alone. I won't spoil it for you, but here are some of the words that she sings:
Just do the next right thing Take a step, step again It is all that I can to do The next right thing I won't look too far ahead It's too much for me to take But break it down to this next breath, this next step This next choice is one that I can make So I'll walk through this night Stumbling blindly toward the light And do the next right thing
This to me is such a beautiful picture of what it means to abide in Christ (Disney, coming in clutch once again). He doesn't force us to plan out our entire lives, or even our entire days; moment by moment we are expected to trust in Him and follow the path that He is leading us on. One day "abiding" might be as simple as getting out of bed and meeting that girl for coffee, and on others it could mean getting on a plane and flying halfway across the world for the glory of His name. The next right thing is HIS right thing for you to do at that moment.
This idea popped up again last Sunday at church when my pastor was talking about living through dark seasons. He said several things that were very applicable to me, especially now.
"Hold on to what you last heard from God. If you haven't heard anything new from Him, keep obeying the last thing He told you to do."
Okay. I can do that. I can do my job and meet with my people and share my story and take time to rest and the other things He commanded me to do through His word. But then...
"You might be trying to plan out the next five years, when all God wants is to get you through the next five minutes."
Obviously He knows what's going to happen every moment of every day. But I, for one, do not. At all. I give it my very best effort not to be a planner, but friends, I just am. And so, in this transition stage, I am being challenged by God to trust in Him not only in the big things, but also in the minute details. This is where I saw Him the most in Uganda, and it's where I'm seeing Him the most here in Tennessee.
I've been asked (though not nearly as much as I thought) if I am ever going to go back to UG. That's a really good, deep, scary question.
There was a moment back at the end of October when I was sitting in a house with all of the other WGM missionaries. We were together for the quarterly annual general meeting, and we were spending some time in silent prayer. It was there in that moment that I felt the Lord asking me, gently, if I was willing to make these people my family and live in Uganda.
The next day I cried in front of my people while I prayed to God, telling Him that I was so scared, and in need of His grace to accept that call. If that is what He wants me to do, I'd be crazy to refuse.
Since coming back, I've felt and heard the opposite. Just as gently and just as clearly I am listening to Him ask, "But are you also willing to stay?"
And the answer to that question has to be yes, too. No matter what, I want His best. And because I don't know the future, I also don't know what's best for me. But He does, and I have to trust Him to reveal the next right thing.
I have a highly active imagination, and it's effortless for me to picture my life in East Tennessee and my life in Uganda, despite how different the two paths look. The truth is that whichever path God has for me, it's going to look different than what I picture (which, let's be real, might be neither of these things). And that's okay.
I am learning to abide, kind of. The good news is that God's mercies are new every morning, and I have a new chance to listen, to follow, and to trust in His goodness.