“I’m not where I want to be.” That is what I told God through tears last week. It has been a long year. You know the feeling when something good and God-given is burning in your heart, but you can’t get to it? You can’t seem to make it happen?
I have been working for a ministry that serves incarcerated women for the past year, and because of Covid, everything we had planned to do was turned on its head. We have been shut out of the prison for a solid year now. We have been doing everything in our power to adapt to the hand we’ve been dealt and to be productive and do meaningful work until things can resume, but I won’t lie, it’s been very hard and discouraging.
I was processing all of this and praying, and I pulled into a Freddy’s parking lot that overlooks the men’s prison. I had an appointment to go in and lead a Bible study with a group of Spanish speaking inmates. (Amazingly enough, we are allowed to go into the men’s prison in spite of Covid.) As I sat there looking at the men’s prison, again, I cried out to the Lord. “Lord, you are all powerful. You have all of the authority. Why won’t you open those doors for us in the women’s prison so we can do what you have asked us to do? Lord, I’m not where I want to be.” As I sat there in tears, the Lord answered my heart. “You are where you need to be.”
Where I need to be. I did not love hearing that, but as I sat there thinking about that, stories of different people who were not where they wanted to be began to come to mind. I thought of Moses, who though he was to be the deliverer of the Jews, spent 40 years wandering the desert with dumb, stubborn sheep before he ever returned to Egypt and asked Pharaoh to let the people of God go. I am sure he was not where he wanted to be.
I thought of precious Leah, trapped in a marriage where she was hated and unloved, and all she wanted was to be chosen for once in her life. I am sure she was not where she wanted to be.
But Moses needed to be in the desert. It is where he would become the man who would shepherd the people of Israel. And Leah needed to be in that difficult marriage. It is where she would become the mother of Judah, and through his line, Jesus Christ.
I thought of my own life and times I was in places I did not want to be. I remember times growing up where I did not want to be in Peru. We lived in a city where there were bars over every window and razor wire on the walls surrounding your home. That always felt so scary to me. I remember getting language headaches as a child and just wanting to hide from people speaking at me who I could not understand. As I got older, I remember going though the reentry process from one culture to another and feeling so lost and overwhelmed when we would come back after each long absence to a culture that had moved on and people who had grown and changed while we’d been away.
And yet, I needed to be there. For a thousand reasons that I am sure I still don’t fully understand. What I do know is this. I walked into a men’s maximum security prison last week, with bars on windows and razor wire everywhere. And it felt really familiar. And I sat in a room with Spanish speaking inmates, and we studied God’s Word together in Spanish, and I felt like I was home. And I am working for a reentry program with people who will feel overwhelmed and maybe a bit lost when they step back out into a world that has moved on without them. And I know what that feels like… and all of these things happened because I was not where I wanted to be. But I was where I needed to be.
I know those doors with the women will open for us at some point. I know that this year is not God’s plan B. It is the only plan. So, I am going to wait here. Trusting my God. Where I need to be.
What about you? Are you not where you want to be right now? Is there something burning in your heart that you are unable to do yet? Are you living in circumstances you would never choose for yourself? Would you dare to believe that this could be on purpose? That maybe this season is not about what you are doing, but about who you are becoming? It could be that God is training you right now for His plans for you down that road that you cannot imagine. Take heart, friend. God is good. He is in control. He knows. And someday, we will know what He was doing through all of it, and we will praise Him for it together.