This week's guest post is by Alex Lasalle, a very dear friend and one of my favorite writers. I had no doubt that she was the one to share for this week's topic on "Stepping Out On Your Own." She's experienced God's provision and grace as she stepped out in faith just two years ago. I am overjoyed to share my friend with you. I know you will be blessed by her beautifully written words.
“You are my hiding place!
You protect me from trouble,
and you put songs in my heart
because you have saved me.”
Psalm 32:7 (CEV)
Nearly two years ago, I moved to the Heartland. More specifically, the windy suburbs outside of Chicago. The change of pace for this transplanted Brooklyn girl was perplexing. I had grown accustomed to the bustle of the morning commute. The 9 to 5 grind at the office. Late night feasts of Chinese take-out with friends in the city. Three mile treks from Times Square to the Williamsburg Bridge to clear my head and marvel at the breathtaking diversity of my familiar city. The weekends were a funky international blend of watching Kung Fu films dubbed in Spanish on Telemundo with my grandmother. What a delight to be awakened by my demented little kitten every morning. Routine. Repeated. Daily.
These days, it seems I’ve turned out to be a bit of an old soul trapped in the body of a young adult. Work days are a hodgepodge of college counseling (which I love) and hours of data entry (no, thanks!). Meals are a product of brilliant disasters I’ve created in the kitchen (think Spanish style beans with linguine). At home, I get my cardio in for the day by pacing from room to room looking for my reading glasses. Mostly, I’m content to settle in for an evening of 60 minutes, a cup of earl grey, and shortbread cookies. Knitting what appears to be turning into a pant suit. Wondering why I never got around to learning how to drive! Adjusting to meeting new people and building relationships. Missing my friends and Kung Fu loving grandmother desperately.
It was during one of my many melancholy reveries that God reminded me of Esther. With the distinction of being just one of two books of the bible named after a woman (the other being Ruth) I went back and re-read her story. She was an adopted daughter. Taken in by her uncle after her parents died. Despite this loss, it appears the rest of her upbringing was rather uneventful. That is, until King Xerxes got drunk, flipped out on his wife Vashti and banished her. After the tough break up, he ran off to war and returned four years later weary and in need of female companionship. His idea: send out scouts to gather, from his territories, all the single pretty ladies of the land to be primped and pampered for a year in the hopes of pleasing 'the great king of Persia'. In the most unexpected way, Esther was drafted for a year long spa retreat at the King’s palace.
Have you ever seen one of Oprah's 'Favorite Things' specials - the really obnoxious holiday shows where she gave out flat screen flat screens and IPads and cars and trips to the Mediterranean? The audience members essentially spent the majority of the show whooping and hollering at every gift, waving their arms about in a euphoric state, weeping with joy, passing out. The whole thing - a spectacle. The way I imagine it, that's how the girls might have responded at having been especially picked for the chance to be the bride of the king.
As I read her story, I wonder what she felt as she packed her bags. Said her goodbyes. Left her home. She was on a precipice. On the edge of something great and scary. Exciting. Lonely. Foreign. Wondering how God would transform this life experience into something miraculous and meaningful. We know, by skipping to the end of the story, that God indeed had a special blessing and purpose for her life. Like Esther, I too had to make a choice to trust in my heavenly King.
While it's only been two years, God has shown me that obedience can produce two things in my life.
(1) Suffering. Yup. Sometimes God asks us to do things that initially are painful. Lonely. Scary. But as I’ve struggled to adjust to my new home, God has given me a new sense of joy. Joy is a far deeper emotion than happiness because it’s produced in spite of one's circumstances. Lasting joy is based on the knowledge that God is our hiding place, regardless of how we feel and where we may find ourselves. It’s when we hurt the most that the touch of God's presence is most tender.
(2) Spiritual growth. Many times I have prayed that I would understand God's love and his nature in a deeper way. It’s through difficulty that we get to know God intimately. Trials don't necessarily come because we've made a mistake. And they certainly don't mean that God has abandoned us. When God asks us to obey Him, we are usually put in a position where it's all or nothing. You either are going to trust God completely. Or not. But if you do... then you give God an opportunity to use your life to demonstrate His faithfulness, goodness, and love. God’s very own heart song.
Where are you today on your journey? Whether you realize it or not, God is also at work in your life. Your life has a purpose. He may not call you to move across the country or move into a spa center for a year (we wish!). But he may call you to be brave and obey him in another way. Even when you think that no good can come from your particular situation, I challenge you to use your time of difficulty in a way that will serve God and others.
Your life is significant!
Esther never imagined that she'd be crowned queen of the Persian kingdom, delivering her people from genocide. And by no means, am I thinking I’ll become royalty. Marry a king. Save a generation. But just maybe, I will. In a world of uncertainty, God is my hiding place.
Feel free to reach out to Alex on Twitter and Instagram @quirky_ally.