Have you ever been in a space where God has asked you to remain in a particular place despite your desire to leave?
This summer, I’ve had multiple people ask me about my journey to Forge and what the process of leaving Nebraska was like for me. With nearly every one of those conversations, my initial response was to let out a laugh while I briefly reminisced what it meant for me to leave my friends and family. When I decided to move out to Colorado and come on staff with Forge, I was filled with equal amounts of joy and dread: joy for what was ahead and dread of leaving. I was unsure how I could be fully present in Nebraska while giving so much time and energy to all that Colorado had for me.
In 2016, I interned at Forge for the summer. That Fall, I spent the next six months in Nebraska raising support to go on staff. I did it while living at home with my parents. It was a humbling experience. I’m a pretty independent, take-charge kind of person, so the autonomous side of me (that too often was worn like a badge of honor) felt completely destroyed.
I found myself frequently questioning God that first month at home. Selfishly, I kept looking forward to moving to Colorado. I’d ask God time and again, “Why aren’t you providing the funds needed within the first few days!” I noticed my interactions with my friends often reflected that selfishness as well.
As the summer went on, It became necessary to find some extra work to supplement my income while I was fundraising. God provided the opportunity to nanny for a family. Sadly, even as God was caring for my needs, all I really cared about was moving things along as quickly as possible so I could move to Colorado. My prayers often sounded something along the lines of, “God, why am I still here when I know I am supposed to be in Colorado?”
Those prayers were honest, and God patiently received them. Still, He also kindly spoke to me in the midst of them and asked, “Kersha, will you stop long enough to be present where you are?” God was asking me to look around and see what and who I should be investing in while I was home. He was teaching me that where I was wasn’t a waste of time. God never wastes time.
I began to read a book called Wait and See by Wendy Pope that challenged me to my core. The book calls out our human desire to know what is next, and how a great majority of us spend our lives waiting on the next thing instead of the person or thing right in front of us. I was challenged to wait and pay attention to the temptation to move ahead too quickly. God was inviting me to wait well and to look for what He was up to as I waited.
God began to transform the way I thought about living at home and being in Nebraska. I had many opportunities right in front of me that I had been overlooking, all because I was wanting to live in the future. I hadn’t been paying attention.
With a renewed way of thinking, I wanted to leave Nebraska well. It would require me to re-adjust the way I was living and loving at the time. God, day by day, did a wonderful work in me. He helped me become more aware of where I was and what He was up to in the moment. What a much better place to be with God than for me to be constantly wishing days away and turning my thoughts to times and locations not yet to be.
One of the sweetest memories of that summer at home was getting the chance to talk to a retired teacher from Omaha at a University of Nebraska football game. After an hour of conversation about my faith, he let me know that he wanted to help get me to Colorado by giving financially. God just wanted me to be present where I was. He knew the provision would take care of itself as I simply cared about genuinely being present with Him and others.
Nannying also gave me opportunity to be attentive to the people and things in front of me. The kids and family I served became like family to me. I looked forward to each day as a chance to reflect Jesus’ love to them. Increasingly, I began to realize how being present produced sweet moments and interactions, and how so many people need to be seen and loved.
Fast forward to this summer at Forge. Our summer training participants on The Experience have been investing in middle school and high school students—here and there along the way, but specifically at Deep Camp and during the international stage of the program. They have been given people and places to be present with and invest in. God is teaching them how to be present with God and others in the here and now, not the then and there.
Many of us desire the future now. Unfortunately, in doing so, we become blind to the opportunities right in front of us. Discomfort, anxiousness, fear (even familiarity and boredom) often tempt us to look ahead. Our messy and untamed present often seems less desirable than the seemingly more attractive future.
What does it look like for you to be present where you are? What does God have for you presently that you are nervous, afraid, or uncomfortable about stepping into? Are you willing to see the people and things God has for you right where you are? What will it take to re-arrange where your attention is focused?
At home in Nebraska that summer, it took me some time to adjust my sight to see what God had for me in the present. Life became so much more fulfilling and peace-filled as I traded future worries for God’s presence in the here and now. I know I transitioned to Colorado in a much sweeter way because of what God had done in my heart those previous six months at home in Nebraska.
May you walk forward in confidence to the future places God has for you, practicing His presence in each moment along the way!
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