At the beginning of last year, I had to come to terms with the fact that I wouldn’t be working like I had planned. That God was teaching me how to rely on Him as my provider, even when I got to Sydney and was without a job for the first 2 and a half months. But I knew this year would be different. I knew He was going to open doors for me to find a job and that, through it, I would be financially sustained, be able to pay for any mental health treatment, and save up for my return to College.
As the months passed, many things started to open. I began therapy and I was somehow being financially sustained. Although rather slowly, all the boxes were definitely being ticked. All except the job and saving up for College. But I told myself I was not going to give up, no matter how hard it became, no matter how heavy I felt and no matter how discouraged I got.
“I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength” – Philippians 4:13 (NKJV)
As the months passed, this verse became a daily declaration. – I was going to get that job and it was going to make it possible for me save up for College. So every day I got up and applied for jobs. Sometimes well into the night. I will admit that I was becoming obsessive about it, because I knew that the longer it took for me to get a job, the harder it would become for me to save up and the less likely it would become for me to return to College in January. But I had to save up. There was no way God would call me to College and then there be no way for me to go back.
On Monday morning, I remember reciting the verse in Philippians again and God clearly saying “There’s a difference between ‘can’ and ‘should.'” It was a profound thought, but I wasn’t particularly sure what He really meant by it. So I just wrote it down in my notes and waited on Him. After a while I sensed the Holy Spirit direct me to a sermon by Steven Furtick. A sermon He gave two titles to; “Staying Power” and “Appointment with an Angel.” In it, Pastor Steven speaks of the story in Acts 27, where Paul, who had always wanted to preach in Rome, is headed to Rome but not in the way he might have hoped. Paul is on this journey over sea as a prisoner and on the way, they realise they will encounter a shipwreck. At this point some of the men try and escape the boat in an effort to save themselves and Paul says the following to them; “Unless the men stay in the ship, you cannot be saved.”
The Greek origin of the word ‘do’ in Philippians 4:13 is ishuo. It means to be strong, to have efficiency, force or value. And if you look at the Amplified Bible translation of this verse, you’ll see the words “which he has called me to do” in parentheses. After sitting with both these revelations I immediately knew that this verse, that had become my anchor, had less to do with the fact that everything I set my mind to was for me and more about my ability to do something that He calls me to. It means discerning what He’s calling me to, and then reminding myself that I can do it. Not deciding, on my own accord, everything it is I want to do, and then inviting the Lord in to make it possible.
My return to South Africa was not so that I could save up for College. It was so that I could find healing enough for me to live life more healthily and to the fullest, in the way God intended. It’s not that I don’t have the ‘strength’ to save up for College, it’s that that’s not what He’s calling me do.
“Unless you stay in the ship, you will not be saved”
I knew this meant that I had to let go of my own plans to be back at College in January and grab hold of His plans again. And if I’m being honest I hated the idea of grabbing hold of God’s plan. I hated that it could mean literally anything. That I am indeed back at College in January. Or that I’m not. I hated that it probably meant that it came with a world of uncertainty and discomfort. But what I hated the most, was that I wouldn’t be able to prove everyone who had doubted me, wrong. It meant that I’d have to be okay with people believing that this was a failed attempt. I had to be okay with people believing that what I had done was actually not courageous and wise. I had to be okay with looking the fool. But I knew I have to stay in my ship and stop making efforts to save myself as if I know where the promised land is.
If I’m in a hurry to save up and go back to College, rather than focus on my healing, I may just end up drowning instead of making it to the other side, even if it’s on parts of the ship like in Acts. And this is not me saying I’m not going back to College. Oh I believe I will. But it is me saying that I’m letting go of the when, how and why of it. Because I hadn’t realised it then, but the hunt for a job became a life-saving tactic rather than a means along the journey I was embarking on.
I’ve had to remind myself, again, that He’s always promised to get us ‘there.’ But He’s never told us how. So it’s probably best to stay in your ship. You will get discouraged. You will lose sight of the promise. You will feel unsupported. You will feel like the storm will never end. You will want to give up. You will want to stop and do things your own way. You will want to fix things to reflect the expectations that you and everyone around you has of you. You will want to pick up the things God has asked you to put down.
But like Steven Furtick asks in his sermon “Does it take more faith to step out of a boat that Jesus told you to get into, or to stay in it, believing that if He called you to the other side, you can stay through any storm?”
On Monday, after sitting with Jesus, I received a message about a job opening.
Wednesday morning, I had an interview in which she told me she wanted me for the job, because she knew me. Because she had seen how I had interact with people I didn’t know during the December holiday of 2018.
This coming Monday, a week later, will be my first day.