So I attempted to fast yesterday in order to spend some time in prayer about next year, but I also wanted it to be a secret, but it ended up not that way, so I broke it. I want to make the decision pretty soon about next year as I don't want to have it hanging over my head for ages. I've been in two minds about it all along, wanting to stay here, where I am feeling accepted, loved and comfortable, and yet desperately wanting to know that I am doing what God wants me to do. Because of this, I was going round and round in circles in my head about what I should do. But then this week has made me realise that I have been looking at it all wrong.
For some reason, I got it into my head that maybe Southend was NOT where God wanted me next year, and so even though there was loads of signs that suggested Southend is the best place for me to be, I was constantly looking for signs that I should be somewhere else. And attempting to get to a place in my head where I was able to emotionally prepare myself to potentially leave this place. And all the little hints that I should stay here I brushed aside, putting them down to my longing to stay. But then after a fair few chats with a few fairly wise friends of mine, I realised that actually, I had completely been thinking about it the wrong way.
If Southend is where I am right now, then thats where God wants me to be. And when He wants me somewhere else, He'll make it quite clear where that is. And until then, there is plenty of work to be done here. There have been loads of things that have made me want to stay, and that is a good thing. Because those things enable me to do my job the best I can. And God wants the best for me. So if I am truly happy here, then this must be what God wants for me... oh, I hope so.
"I know what I'm doing.
I have it all planned out;
plans to take care of you, not abandon you,
plans to give you the future you hope for."
Jeremiah 29:11 [The Message]
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After writing this I went to bed and did my evening devotion, and in the back of my bible was a prayer that we were given by good ol' Stevey T at the church weekend about 2 years ago. It's been in my bible all along, but last night was the first time I read it and really thought about what it said:
My LORD God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope that I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.
THOMAS MERTON (1915 - 1968)