“What is going on?” I said to myself when my flight was delayed again. I’d landed alone in Hong Kong after a 15-hour trip from San Francisco and was waiting to board for mainland China. The woman next to me surprised me by answering, “there’s been a terrible earthquake; you need to call your mom and let her know you’re alive.” I think I thanked her and was off.
On the way, I passed TVs that showed footage of the devastation happening where I was going, Sichuan province in China, it was 2008 and the 8.1 quake would claim 80,000 lives and leave more missing. I found a phone and talked to my mom, and I found a computer where my friends in China had already messaged to say the airport would reopen the next day. Once I arrived, they would need me to hit the ground running. Picking up my food voucher and settling in with a bowl of noodles to wait, I realized, oh, God knew this was coming.
Next thought, “I should have brought my stethoscope.”
Saying 'Yes' to Bravery
Ten years ago, I was about to start my last semester of nursing school and was talking with my parents about my post-graduation plans during winter break. I had been invited to help lead a team volunteering in Germany with my roommate and my trip cost would be covered as a chaperone. I was really looking forward to it and excited to practice the German I’d learned growing up and visit one of my best friend’s hometowns.
Then, I went on a run around a park by my parents’ house and passed a bench donated by a Marine that had the word “Brave” inscribed on the back. As I ran, I knew God was asking me to be brave and to go back to China.
I had friends there but didn’t have a paid trip or a job that would pay for a plane ticket and my Mandarin was weak at best. At dinner that night I told my parents I thought God might be leading me back to China. Their response was classic, “you have our blessing, not our money.” I thought it was a crazy idea, so I shelved it.
A few weeks later, I was in my last hospital internship and I received a job offer in the critical care unit. I accepted it, got a credit card (not wise), and bought a plane ticket to Chengdu, China. I’d stay with a best friend and help with a Heart to Heart medical teaching trip. I’d arrive there in the window between graduation, taking my nursing boards, and work. It would be a fun celebration of my graduation, a chance to volunteer and not stress before I jumped into a serious grown-up job. But, of course, God knew what was coming.
The day after the earthquake I disembarked on the tarmac with Chinese military and disaster response personnel. I joined a team of talented medical volunteers that had come from across the country and did disaster relief for three weeks. My involvement would never have been possible if I hadn’t been on the plane with a visa in my passport when the ground shook.
When We Don't See It Coming
This has been a recurrent theme. I don’t see the earthquake coming and I question what God is asking of me.
I questioned Him when I felt the nudge to change my college major from English to Nursing because I knew it would mean transferring schools. Ends up, I make a good nurse and I started dating my husband in that new city.
I wondered about going to a church plant and then God led us to downtown Indy to do just that!
I didn’t get the job I wanted working as a Tuberculosis nurse but that’s because the health department offered me a job as a refugee RN and I was able to meet people from around the world, which was a life dream.
I wasn’t sure what God was doing when I felt the urge to stay home with our three kids and step away from working with refugees but now I get to spend time with them in their homes as a volunteer. I thought I was going to help refugees learn English (insert college major #1- English education), and now I’m learning that I receive so much more as they teach me about hospitality, generosity, hope, peace, and joy.
I have all these thoughts in my head about how things should go or what I think would be a really good plan but the problem is, I don’t know what’s coming.
God Knows What's Coming
The Israelites didn’t see Jesus coming and they sure expected something else. Isn’t he way better than anything we could have thought up? In the garden of Gethsemane, do you think Jesus said, “I didn’t see that coming?” To be in such union with the Father and to think, “please, let there be another way,” reveals to us that the wrestling and the working it out with God is OK.
At the end of the day, I need to remember that his plan provides life to the fullest. I am so thankful that Christ gave it all so that I could be in unity with him. I want to give it all- my plans, hopes, aspirations and more- so that I can be in union with him and experience that perfectly orchestrated story. He has our best in mind and knows what’s coming.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6
Meet my friend, Emily! Emily and her husband, James, are raising their three kids in the heart of Indianapolis, Indiana. Emily is an RN with a heart for orphans and refugees. She's shared God's love through teaching English and nursing people back to health all over the world. When God tells Emily to go, she goes!
Check out their ministry in downtown Indianapolis:
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