Our two-week outreach trip to Lesotho was challenging for me mentally, physically, and emotionally. Once I finally felt I had overcome my homesickness in Zambia and settled into a new rhythm of doing life in the internship, my perspective was shaken again during outreach. I realized I had been building up my own comfort zone in Zambia, grounding myself in things that were familiar or that I felt I could do well or easily. All of that comfort zone fell away in Lesotho as I received the chance to serve in new ways, including paving roads, painting a school, speaking to a group of teenagers about living a life of purpose, and sharing a word of encouragement to a church congregation—all things I felt ill-equipped to do. Even driving 36 hours one way on a bus and living in close community in the cold for two weeks revealed my need for growth in patience and servanthood. As I learned from Pastor Fred a few weeks ago, sometimes God brings us into a season of separation in order to build our character and speak more clearly to us. A season of separation from what’s comfortable, familiar, and safe can take us to a new place of relying on God.
While in Lesotho, I had the opportunity to hear from the Lord in a couple hours of solitude. I chose a boulder to sit on, looking over the mountainous landscape and vast blue sky. Everything was beautiful and peaceful, and for a while, I was content to just sit in stillness admiring God’s creation. Then I noticed other members of our group walking on ahead, and I began to wonder what everything looked like from their perspective. As I became less satisfied with my location, I started focusing on the view I didn’t have yet instead of what was right in front of me. God convicted me that I’ve been so anxious to rush on ahead to the next stages of my life—completion of this internship, marriage, graduation from college, etc.—that I’m missing out on the beauty of where God has put me right now. If I rush on ahead, I discovered, I’ll only be anxious to get to the next seemingly appealing place after that. I asked God how I’m supposed to know when to move, and he told me to stand up and look into a pool of water in front of me. From my spot on the rock, the water shimmered in the sun and reflected the bright blue of the sky, but when I came close to it, I realized the water was shallow, dirty, and smelly. I went back to my rock until I heard the Lord tell me to look into the water again. The sun had dried the water and sludge off of the ground in several patches, like stepping stones. On the way to my place of solitude I had almost slipped in the mud, but walking across those dry places, there was no chance of slipping. The picture reassured me that I don’t need to be stumbling and guessing what God’s will is because God will make my path clear when he wants me to move.
Coming to Zambia was one step of faith for me. The internship began a season of separation from the comforts of home and family, but the trip to Lesotho showed me there were even more aspects of my life I needed separation from to grow closer to the Lord. I needed a separation from my routine and from the things I thought I could do well to learn that service is about much more than what tasks we can accomplish. God cares more about the posture of our hearts than how well we can paint a school. I needed a separation from the activity of community and service so I could remember to enjoy what God has put right in front of me. I’m grateful to serve a God who doesn’t leave me in my selfishly-constructed comfort zones, but places me where he wants me, showing me a new path when it’s time to move.
|ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Olivia Thompson – 2018 Immersion Intern