“Staring in the water like Aesop’s foolish dog
Can’t help but reflect on what is was I almost lost
What I thought I wanted, what I got instead
Leaves me broken and grateful.”
~Sara Groves, What I thought I wanted
I had a dream of living in Europe. I studied 4 years of French. I seriously thought God was going to call me to Europe as a missionary. Europe suits me, and I have the wardrobe for it already! I love the history, the architecture, the art, the cool youth culture. I just love Europe. I kept waiting for the Call from the Lord. It never came.
When I was 17 I was supposed to be attending my high school graduation. Instead I was spending a month in Europe with my family on a sort of family missions trip. We spent 3 weeks in Brussels, Belgium working with missionary friends and then tacked on a week in Paris just for family vacation. I never considered missing my graduation ceremony to be a hardship in the light of Paris! I was born for that city!
While we were in Belgium we toured Continental Bible College, where I considered studying for at least a year. As I walked through the buildings with the tour guide, I prayed in my heart. I asked God, “Well, what do you think?” and clear as the voice of the tour guide I heard God say to me, “He’s not here.” I knew immediately that he meant my future husband. I said, “I didn’t ask you about that,” and we didn’t talk about it again. I went home and applied to North Central Bible College in Minneapolis, my hometown. I met Josh a few months later and two years later we got married. What I thought I wanted pales in comparison with what I got instead.
Fast forward to 2003. We were on a missions trip with our youth group kids. We knew this would be our last trip. We had already felt God starting to stir our hearts, change was on the horizon. But we didn’t know what it was going to look like. Sitting on a bench on the campus of the University of Mexico UNAM we felt God speaking to our hearts. “This door is open. Will you come here and work for me?” he asked.
I thought about my Europe. I said, “Mexico?? But God, I took FRENCH! Remember? Is this one of those times when I say yes to what you want and then you give me what I really want instead?”
No. Then he took me to the altar of my heart. He reminded me of all the times I had knelt before him and said, “Lord, send me!! I’ll go ANYWHERE! Just send me SOMEWHERE!”
And he asked me again, “Did you really mean anywhere?”
“Yes, Lord. I will go anywhere you send me.” I humbly replied. Europe slipped from my fingers. And I had the sensation of falling backwards off a cliff and landing safely in God’s hands. That free fall, stomach in the throat, adrenalin rush that you get just as you jump was me putting my trust in God, knowing that he was going to catch me. Faith. A leap of Faith.
Last year I had a very vivid dream. The Lord was speaking to me. In my dream the Lord and I were hovering over a globe of the world. He showed me Europe. I saw and felt and experienced in one moment everything I love about Europe. Then the globe spun and I was over Latin America. The same thing happened, in one moment I saw and felt and experienced everything I love about Latin America. Then the globe was pulled back a little. Looking at the whole world, God gave me a choice. “Knowing what you now know, do you want Europe or Latin America?” I was being given a choice, a permanent, real choice.
I hovered over the globe for longer than I thought it would take to make this decision. In my dream I cried over the agony of this choice. Finally I said, “I can’t bear the thought of leaving Latin America. I love it more than I ever thought I would. I choose Latin America.” As soon as I made my choice, the globe was removed from me and I felt that my decision was made final. I would not be given this choice again. But oh the peace that flooded my heart! I knew I would be happy with this decision.
Something deep inside of me resonated like a bell. There is a part of me that was made to respond to Latin America, and it thrills me to hear it ring like a bell in my heart. What I thought I wanted was completely different from what I got instead. And I am happy. So happy.