A few years ago, I went on a two-week mission trip to Peru with a group of church members. Being my second mission trip, I expected it to be just as breath-taking as the first one just one year prior. I’m a little ashamed to admit that doing missions work in Peru was not at the top of my list – I wanted to go to a place that would drop jaws when people heard about it, such as Israel or a war-torn country in Africa. But God had other plans for me, and He proved it almost immediately.
Our plane hadn’t even lifted off the ground from Memphis yet before we were emptied of our comfort. From a two-hour delay for mechanical repairs on the plane, to the worst turbulence I’ve ever experienced, and then to an overnight stay on the Dallas, Texas airport floors (no cots, no chairs…all floor), we were UNCOMFORTABLE.
It was one thing after another and I was scared out of my mind. I hated the feeling of discomfort and didn’t know why it was happening. I knew I shouldn’t have gone on this trip to Peru, I thought to myself. I wanted to go home.
We finally made it to Peru days later. And from what we experienced for the rest of the time – the poverty, the need, the devastation to a people, and the miracles of our God – we each understood one lesson: God, in His supernatural ways, was simplifying us. He was emptying us of our pride and comfort to prepare us for all the ways He would use us in Peru.
This is only one example of the long list of ways I have experienced God empty me before He used me. Here’s another one: Before I speak in front of a large group of people, God tends to empty me of my self-confidence so He can fill me with His. I often say to myself that I don’t know how I ever got through it. That’s when I know it was all God.
Even now – I feel as if God is removing the comfort and pride I didn’t even know I had, all so that I won’t be able to take credit for the great things He’s about to do.
One would think that this emptying process is exciting and even enjoyable, but it’s definitely not. It’s confusing in the moment because it is often wrapped up in emotional pain and doubt and stress on my very soul. I don’t know how else to describe it other than it’s simply uncomfortable.
Even still, I accept it every time, because I know that God will use whatever it takes to bring us to our knees. And our faith in God’s promises should only increase our trust in the peculiar ways He gets us there.
What He does for us today is no different than what He did for the Israelites thousands of years ago. To get to the Promise Land, He could have easily led them on the quicker route; instead, they spent 40 years in the wilderness so that they could learn some lessons and prepare their hearts for blessings beyond their imagination. He shaped them in that wilderness. Today, He is shaping us, too.
I won’t pretend to know how to deal with the discomfort in the moment, especially when I usually don’t realize what is actually happening until after the fact. I will say, though, that when you finally come to understand that this is a cleansing of your soul, EMBRACE it. Pray to seek more understanding about it and recognize that God cannot and will not use your pride and self-satisfaction. So, we must invite God in to do what He needs to do in order to shape us.
That right there is how we’re used. That’s how we are changed and renewed for a greater purpose beyond our imagination.
Be well today. 🙂