It's been a little over two weeks since we first stepped foot in this beautiful country called South Africa and wow. Life is different. My soul is different. God is slowly teaching me something that I haven't figured out yet. But that's okay! I'm okay with not knowing. Something inside of me is just shaken and I'm realizing that I'm definitely in over my head.
I do not know what I signed up for. In every aspect of life in South Africa currently, there has been laughter, beauty, confusion, chaos, and so much more goodness.
Last weekend we went on a hike. A really hard hike. The kind where I realized just how out of shape I was. I got some alone time for half of the hike up and started to pray. As I was hiking up the trail, I asked God to teach me something. Something new, something radical.
I love the beautiful image of the potter with clay that hasn't been formed into anything yet. It's just a lump of clay waiting to be formed, shaped, and made into a beautiful vessel. That's how I see God teaching me, molding me.
So on this hike, He taught me that this is going to be a long and hard road. It's not going to be a walk in the park. At times, it may seem like a constant uphill battle that leads to nowhere and I may even feel like there's no hope - like there's no light at the end of the tunnel. But through it all, there is peace that surpasses everything. Through heavy breathing and sweat ridden faces, God is literally pushing me through this semester with His strength and presence.
I have found rest for my soul in Him. Peace.
He keeps repeating to me, "I'm right here. It's okay. I am constant when nothing else is."
As I was reading the story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4, I was overwhelmed by the perfection of Jesus' timing. How beautiful to see someone hear of the living water that Jesus offers us all because of a small encounter?
This is so beautifully timed by God! How often do I wish I was somewhere else when God has so perfectly placed me exactly where I need to be? He has put each person in my life for a reason. Every person I smile at on the street, every peer I sit with at the dinner table, every student I sit next to in class was placed with a purpose.
It's funny how God provides everything so faithfully, even the things we don't know we need. Even the unexpected encounters.
He is faithful.
What if that person you sat next to needed encouragement or just needed someone to listen? What if that encounter that you had taught you something about the character of God?
I constantly struggle with not being fully present. Life is so busy that I rarely like to sit and acknowledge the person to my right or left. Whether I'm thinking about what I could be doing with my friends back home or what I'm missing just in the next room over, it's hard to simply be.
This semester I've challenged myself to be completely present - to stop thinking about everything else I could be doing while having a conversation with a human being. I've challenged myself to simply love the person in front of me, whether that's through a smile, a hug, a listening ear, or an encouraging word.
I've also challenged myself to go on more hikes. Maybe God will teach me something new every time. Build my stamina.
Don't miss the beauty that's right in front of you, even if you technically haven't "reached the top" yet. The journey is just as beautiful as the view at the top. God has placed it there so specifically and perfectly for you to see, for you to encounter. Remind yourself that it's worth it, it's so worth the hike.
Yes, it's hard. It's a process. We don't just change overnight. God prepares our hearts and slowly molds us into the perfect creation He intended for us to be.
You are exactly where you're supposed to be.
The view from the top of Elephant's Eye!