Archives for July 2015

July 9, 2015

What God Can Do in a Decade

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I really like  “Timehop” and the “On this Day” apps.  It’s always entertaining and sometimes surprising to see a snapshot of what I was up to several years ago.

One day I was scrolling through those memories and it occurred to me that a lot has happened over the past 10 years.  If you had told me at 19 years old that over the next decade I would travel to two other countries, live abroad for a year, get a job in Southwest Kansas, teach Theology of the Body in English and Spanish, marry a man I met on the internet, meet the Pope, earn a Masters degree in Theology, and then have a baby…. I probably would have thought you were insane.

There’s just no way I would have been able to process all of that.

19 was a dark time for me.  I was getting ready to go into my sophomore year of college, I was living at home, my Mom was dealing with a debilitating illness (which was hard on the whole family), and I was also struggling through some serious addictions and pain of my own.

At 19, I thought my brokenness was only going to get more broken.  Sure, there were good days.  But I was hurting, and I was looking for happiness, love, and peace in all the wrong places.  What I didn’t realize at the time was that while I thought my wounds were only getting larger, God was already at work doing some major heart surgery.

When I look back at the last decade as a whole, I can’t help but see how God laid a foundation over the years, and how each step had an influence on the next. 

I went from studying Italian to Spanish, which led to a study abroad adventure in Costa Rica.  That experienced inspired me to want to serve as a missioner in Mexico for a year after graduation, which led to a job in Texas.  The highlight of that year in Texas was being exposed to Theology of the Body on an even deeper level and meeting my husband.  That new found love of TOB led to a job in Southwest Kansas, where I’ve been for almost 5 years.  Being in Dodge City connected me and my husband to a MA Theology program, which is how we ended up in Rome with Pope Francis over our honeymoon.  And our graduation present?  Baby Johnston ๐Ÿ™‚

Of course, those are just the major highlights, but I know that there were even more moments and experiences that God used to draw me closer to Himself over the years. 

Now here I am at 29… a married mother in ministry

God used some of the darkest, most challenging, and most inspiring experiences lead me to where I am now.  I’m still growing, I’m still in formation, and God is still faithful, even when I’m at my worst.

There’s a song by Gungor called “Beautiful Things“.  The entire song moves me.  The beginning of the first verse goes:

All this pain,
I wonder if I’ll ever find my way,
I wonder if this life could really change at all.

Then refrain and bridge articulate exactly what comes to mind when I reflect on the last decade:

You make beautiful things… out of the dust. 
You make beautiful things…out of us.  
You make me new, you are making me new.

God’s plan for our lives is more incredible than anything we can imagine for ourselves.  If I’ve learned anything over the past decade, it’s that God will make something beautiful out of our brokenness, but we have to let Him into it
Sometimes it is really difficult to see the “bigger picture”, and it is easy to forget that God is at work in each and every moment.  I still struggle with this. 
I don’t always remember to look at where I am in my journey or actively discern what the next steps might be.  Yes, God can do so much over the years… but am I open to what He is doing in my life right now?  Do I realize that if I’m willing to give God each day, one moment at a time, He can do the impossible?  
Maybe you’ve experienced a dark moment in your own journey.  Maybe that’s where you are right now, and it’s hard to see hope or how God could possibly bring healing into the situation.  If I can give any encouragement, it would be to be patient with yourself and be patient with God.  God loves us too much to leave us exactly where we are, and He really can make something beautiful out of the darkest and most broken pieces of ourselves.  

While I may not be dealing with the same things I was ten years ago, I know God is still healing my heart and preparing me for even more adventures that will lead me even further out of the boat.  More than anything I hope that I can continue to learn to give God one moment at a time, and to cling to His promise, “Behold, I make all things new” (Rev 21:5)

be at peace
walk on water
be not afraid