Take the Step

Even as I wrote the post last week, clouds were building and getting darker in my own mind and heart. By the end of the night and into the following days, I was wondering if maybe my strength of positivity had abandoned me because I was struggling to believe the sun was still shining behind the clouds.

There wasn’t one thing that brought the storm. A number of factors converged and blocked out my view of the sun for a time. Some of the clouds aren’t worth mentioning, but there were three in particular that hit within hours of each other, and all of them brought doubts about the things God has told me about making this place my home.

I have mentioned before that I felt God was saying it was time to settle here and begin to put down more roots. One of those roots involves getting my Irish driving license, and the first step of that process was scheduled for today. I put off studying for the theory test until the end of last week, because without realizing it, I had begun to think it was futile to work toward getting my license here when I wasn’t sure I’d be here long enough to make it worth the small fortune it will cost.

So, what were the storm clouds? First, I just renewed my visa, and one year from today marks the end of the time I will be allowed to stay in Ireland unless I can convince the justice department that I need to be here longer. I have known for two years that three years was the maximum length I could stay without special permission, but that seemed such a long time away when I first arrived. Being given the information on what documents I will need to provide next year brought it to the forefront of my mind that I could easily be told to leave in a year.

The second of the clouds had to do with finances. Due to some unforeseen circumstances, I was told there was a remote possibility that a significant amount of my monthly support might be stopped. Recently, money has been tight already because of the visa and insurance renewals, and losing any support (let alone the amount I could lose) would mean I could no longer afford to be here. I don’t anticipate this decrease happening, but on top of the visa concerns (and knowing the costs of getting a license), it was stressful news to hear.

Finally, before I moved to Ireland, I felt like God had said that He had things here He wanted to give me. For a number of months, I have been praying into something I thought He had promised. Around the same time as these other concerns arose, I began to doubt that He had really spoken about this opportunity. It looks doubtful, or at the very least far away.

All of these factors converged, along with some other seemingly insignificant ones, to create a perfect storm of wondering if it is worth putting in the work to put down deep roots. This feels like “home” more than any place I’ve ever been, but is it worth the effort and emotions if I’m going to be uprooted?

Last weekend, I put all these thoughts on “pause.” The driver theory test was scheduled, and I needed to study so I didn’t waste the money I’d already paid when I booked the test. I’m happy to say I passed the test, and I should receive my learner’s permit in the post within a couple of weeks. I’m also happy to say that even though I don’t know the outcome of all of these situations, I have hope again. I know God can give me favor for the visa renewal, and He can provide all I need, and He is faithful to His promises even if they don’t look the way I expect.

Today, I took a step of faith. I don’t know exactly where the road leads, but I know He has asked me to pursue deeper roots here. I don’t know how He’ll provide the money to continue the process or how He’ll work out any other detail, but even without seeing the sun behind the clouds, I could see enough to take one more step forward. I trust it will be worth it.

What step might you need to take today despite the darkness surrounding you?

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The Sun IS Shining

A few years ago, I took an online assessment to learn what my top five strengths are according to Gallup. (For information on the specifics of “StrengthsFinder” click here.) One of the strengths I had was “Positivity.” At the time, I didn’t see it. When it comes to the labels of “optimist” or “pessimist,” I tend to be a “realist.” I have no problem seeing potential or probable difficulties ahead and planning accordingly.

However, over the last couple of years, I have realized that I am indeed a positive person. Even if I see a glass that is only one quarter full, I’d probably say at least there is something in there…

Just last week as I sat with a friend at a café on the beach, I exhibited this strength again. We were staring out the window at the cloudy skies, and my friend commented that the sun would not be shining that day. Without even thinking about it, I responded that the sun was still shining even if we couldn’t see it.

At the time it was just a simple comment, but as I tried to think of what to write about today, it came to mind again. There are things I’ve been praying about for months or even years, things I believe God has promised me, and I don’t see them yet. The clouds have yet to part and allow the light to shine into those particular areas of my life. That doesn’t mean the light isn’t there though.

One of my favorite musicians is Andrew Peterson, and he wrote a song called “Mountains on the Ocean Floor.” (See below). It talks about how growth can take place under the surface without us ever realizing it. It isn’t until the mountain breaks through the surface that we become aware of what has been happening in unseen places.

I don’t know what it is you find yourself waiting or hoping for today. Maybe there is a specific area of your life that looks hopeless. You’ve been watching for something to change, and maybe it looks like nothing is happening. Just know that under the surface or behind the clouds, things are happening. The sun is shining, and growth is happening.

One day breakthrough will come, and we will get to see what has been building just beyond where our eyes could see. Until then, we get to practice faith – “confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1) “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23).