Hindsight 20/20

Is anybody else (besides me) afraid of the unknown?

I think my fear of the unknown greatly surpasses my other fears – like
spiders, sharks, and creepy clowns that laugh obnoxiously in your face (and try to give you lingering and unwanted creepy clown hugs).  When I was younger, every time I entered into a new and unknown situation – like soccer tryouts, a new job, or my first day of school – my palms would start to sweat, my stomach would get all tingly with butterflies, and I would talk my mom’s ear off about how nervous I was until she finally “woman-ed up” and kicked me out of the car (because that’s what awesome moms do).

Before I moved to South Africa, I was a planner, I was a strategist, and I was a woman who always tried to think ahead. Well – ever since I left Florida – that side of me has vanished into thin air.

God and I used to have these little “heated discussions” every now and then that sounded something like, “Lord, I seriously have no idea what the heck I’m doing. What do You want me to do?  Where should I go?  Can You just yell Your answer loud and clear in my ear or write it on a billboard sign next to the highway?”  Then the Lord would lovingly say, “Oh Samantha, My fearful and anxious little child, relax and be still.  Walk with Me, and I will lead you in the way you should go.  Listen for My voice.”  Then I would say, “…but Lord, how will I know when the time is right?  What if I miss it?  Will I have enough money to even work in ministry? This is stressful.  I don’t like this.  What if something bad happens?  How will I know what Your voice even sounds like?”  Then the Lord would respond, “My daughter, why do you have such little faith? It’s all going to work out, just like it always does.  Have I ever let you down before?  I am the same God Who was with you from the beginning.  Take one step at a time, I will be with you wherever you go, and I will never leave you.  Be strong and courageous.  Trust Me, and you will not be put to shame.”

Then, after pouting like a 5 year old for several minutes, I’d finally humble myself enough to thank God for His patience, grace, and love towards me (despite my stubborn and hardheaded ways), and I’d go about my day.

I used to hate “not knowing” until I realized that God has used it as a way of protecting me.  It also encouraged me to spend a lot more time talking with Him, because when I didn’t know the next step… God did.  Here’s an example of what I mean: if God would have told me ahead of time that I was going to fracture my wrist, that I was going to suffer from some long nights of homesickness, that I was going to work in a men’s prison, and that I was going to join the heart-wrenching and dangerous fight against human trafficking, I probably wouldn’t have gone to South Africa.  No, seriously.

Knowing the future would have prevented me from living out God’s incredible plan for my life.  There were so many things that happened while I was in South Africa – some that caused me great pain both emotionally and physically, and some things that caused me to erupt with laughter and joy.  To miss out on those amazing adventures because of fear would have been a huge disappointment.  During my time in South Africa, Romans 8:28 (AMP) started to make sense.  It says, “And we know [with great confidence] that God [who is deeply concerned about us] causes all things to work together [as a plan] for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to His plan and purpose.”  The words “all things” really mean ALL THINGS.  The good things, the bad things, the happy things, and the sad things – they all worked together for my good.  Every experience I went through has molded and shaped me into the person I am today, and for that I am incredibly grateful.

Alright, let’s fast forward to now.  I’ve been home for about a week, and I have no idea what these next few months have in store, but I do know that God’s still in control.  He’s in control of my finances, my health, my family, my friends, and even my persisting jet-leg.  He has an awesome plan that’s already been set in motion – a plan that I don’t know much about (yet).  However, I do know that I can trust Him, and I know that He will lead me in the right direction.

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In moments of uncertainty and doubt, God tells us to remember.  He wants us to remember the moments when He’s provided, He’s been faithful, He’s comforted, He’s healed, He’s spoken, and He’s conquered.  When I recall all of those times in my life, I am encouraged because He’s never let me down.  God has stepped up and proved Himself worthy every single time!  When I didn’t have a car or a place to live, He provided through friends and family.  When I didn’t have enough money to pay my flat rent, a donation would show up in my bank account.  When I needed an emergency wrist surgery, the Lord made sure the doctor had stable hands and that it was a complete success.  When my visa didn’t arrive in the mail, the Lord hand delivered it to me by a good friend just hours before my flight.

Even though I don’t know what these next few months have in store, and even though my emotions and stress sometimes get the best of me, I will wait and I will worship.  I will do my best to make the most of where I’m at in the moment, and I will enjoy the people that I am spending those moments with.

And finally, over these next few weeks, as I take some time to readapt to the Miami traffic, the Spanish language, and the American football games on T.V., I will try to show myself patience and grace… because that’s what the Lord has chosen to show me.

(To donate: http://ssmfi.org/missionary/samantha-stokesberry/)

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