Anyone who's known me for more than 5 minutes can probably tell you that God is the deciding factor in everything I do. (At least I hope this is how people see me, otherwise I am doing something wrong.) I do my best to seek God's guidance in my life and in all things both big and small. Am I perfect? Far from it but I do believe that God cares about all aspects of my life and will guide me through any place or situation I find myself in...if I let Him.
So why am I here? Why do I find myself 5000 miles away from everything I have ever known and most of the people I car about? A place that while it is very beautiful is also frustrating and confusing to me quite often. I have asked myself this question many times since this adventure began and do you know what the answer is? I have no idea!
Well, maybe I have some ideas...
It is obvious to me that God put me here for a reason (or reasons) that right now, only He knows. Will all of those reasons ever be revealed to me? Maybe... maybe not. One of the cool things about the way God works is that He knows what His plan is and can work out things in our lives without us ever knowing how or why. But I also think He reveals the things He needs us to know. Things that teach us about ourselves and help us discover who God is.
This new situation, the new environment, culture and the people that are being placed in my path are all teachable things if my eyes, ears and heart are open to it. I was recently speaking to a friend in the same position I'm in and she said, "I've never been so homebound in my life." Wow, can I ever relate to that! I'm so used to having my independence and a car to go along with it. Here, we can only afford one car and Mark has it most of the time. Oh, once in a while he gets a ride to work and leaves the car for me and I relish those days! But what if I could learn to relish the days I have at home too? After years of having kids, schools, errands, commitments, appointments and responsibilities pull me in a thousand different directions, I suddenly find myself in a quiet house. Yes, I still have responsibilities, things that need to be done, but I also have days that I don't have much to do. That could drive me crazy if I'd let it. But what if, instead of bemoaning the fact that I have no place to go and no way to get there, I stopped and listened to the silence? Looked out the window and saw the beautiful sky, trees and flowers and thanked God for his creation? Enjoyed the time I have to paint or experiment with new recipes? Not only doing the things that for years, I complained about not having the time to do, but just sat still and let God speak to my heart? What kind of difference would that make?
I am convinced that God is always speaking to us. Trying to draw us in to know Him intimately. The problem is that we're usually so busy, running at a breakneck speed, trying to accomplish everything on our "to do" lists that we don't hear Him when he speaks. For the first time in recent memory, I am in a position to really listen.
Honestly, this is not an aspect of our time here that I sought or expected. I agreed to live here thinking about all the cool trips we could take and wonderful things we could see. I love how God takes my tiny little plans and turns them into something amazing!
Mark and I have a group of friends from our church that we get together with a couple of times a week for Bible studies. Very recently, our minister's wife brought a DVD to watch with the ladies that was all about this very thing. Being still and listening to God. I don't think it was a coincidence that this subject has come up just as I find myself in this situation. God is using the time I have to get my attention. Like a lot of people I know I've spent years going to church, helping with various ministries, going to Bible studies and "church" activities but somehow I've missed the intimate relationship that God wants with me. He has stripped away all my excuses and given me the time I have always longed for so that I can get to know Him. What an awesome God we have! My "independence" is exactly what I needed to be taken from me. Who would have thought I would be brought to Italy to experience who God is?
So, is this the only reason I'm here? Probably not. I don't even need to know all the reasons. All I need to know is that God loves me and wants me to know Him. And now I have the time to do it. To really seek Him and praise Him for who He is. What more could I ask for?
Psalm 46:10...He says, "Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth".