Taking Steps of Faith
Two years ago, my world started falling apart. I had been serving in a certain ministry role for a couple years, and after a number of difficult situations, it finally dawned on me: both my ministry and I had some grave misunderstandings. I was overcome with shame and embarrassment.
A couple months later, the door closed at that ministry and I felt I had been left in the dark, alone. I knew my heart was still here in Costa Rica, but I didn’t know what was going to happen. Would a door open in another ministry here? Would I be able to stay? Was God calling me to serve him somewhere else? What was going to happen? I was scared, and I struggled to trust God as I waited on his guidance. I told God I wasn’t going to leave Costa Rica unless he gave me great peace and clarity.
He answered that prayer and led me to Mexico City for a few months so I could help with a couple ministries there short term and discern if God was perhaps calling me to serve there longer term. It only took about 24 hours in Mexico before I knew that I was not called to serve there long-term. But, God had brought me there to fulfill his purposes in me, so even though I was strongly tempted to grab my credit card and passport and go straight to the airport, I remained. In Mexico, I learned to not lose hope, even though the future was still uncertain. I learned to release my fears to God and not let them dominate my thoughts. I grew in self-confidence and self-awareness, understanding myself and the way God has made me better than I ever had before.
Yet the questions remained, what is going to happen next? What is the plan? Where will I go? What will I do? Being the very structured, concrete young woman that I am, I like to be in the know, I like to have a plan. And there was none. A few possibilities had come and gone, but nothing seemed to be coming together. 2015 was drawing to an end, and I still was not sure what was going to happen.
There was talk about one idea, but progress was very slow. Living in such existential angst all year had me tired, stressed, and unable to control my emotions properly. I had been a wreck all year and wasn’t sure how much more I could stand. It took some tough love from someone, telling me that I was not going to be able to have my way. I did not have all the information that I wanted, but that slow-moving idea was the plan. It was at a ministry here in Costa Rica, and I knew my heart was still here, so, I sensed an invitation from God to step forward in faith. If my heart is in Costa Rica and a door seems to be opening here, who am I to throw a hissy-fit before God and require concrete details before I say yes? Gently, God was asking me to trust him. He’d been asking me all year, but I had too busy in my temper tantrums and fears to trust my loving, good, heavenly Father’s plan for my life.
It turns out that the potential ministry idea did indeed take form: serving as Small Group Coordinator at my church, Vida Abundante Heredia, has been the best ministry fit I’ve had so far here in Costa Rica!
All the pain of last year served immensely to boost my faith and ability to live more boldly, trusting God. I know he will guide me regarding how to go about certain tasks. I can trust him to raise up leaders and take care of groups. I can trust him to stir in peoples’ hearts and draw them to himself. It is his work, not mine.
This has also helped me in other areas of my life. Living as a single woman on the mission field implies a number of challenges. I desire to get married someday, but I don’t know if I will ever get married or not. I can continue to live in boldness, trusting God, knowing that he knows the future, and he knows what is best for me. I am safe in his hands. This also applies to friendships and building community. It takes a lot of intentional effort to build strong relationships here. It is not easy. But I trust God to provide me with the community that I need (which might not look the same as the community I desire). I can continue to step forward in faith and know that he will guide and care for me.
And the result of living boldly? Growth, greater maturity, joy, peace, and above all else, gratitude. This year, I have had a sense of overwhelming thankfulness. Trusting God and living boldly for him has given me abundant life. The hard lessons and the struggles made me realize that all is grace. As I release my fears, desires, and insecurities to God, I know I am leaving them in the most capable hands and I am able to walk in greater freedom. I can never thank God enough for all he has done! He is so good!
By: Carrie Smith, Serving in Costa Rica