Thy Will Graphic

Excerpted lyrics from “Thy Will” by Hillary Scott

Today has not gone as we planned. I’m not sure why I was surprised since the whole process of getting back to Italy has not gone as planned. We’re way past “Plan B” and well on our way to “Z” if you count all the times we’ve tried to be ready to leave by a certain date, like this one, only to see it come and go.

Come to think of it, the fact that we are on this road to get back wasn’t part of the plan at all because we never expected to be gone from Italy so long in the first place. We know God has our best at heart and we can already see some beautiful reasons He has allowed it. More than that, it’s been amazing how in many ways this past year has been the most “successful” year of ministry yet even though we’ve had the challenges of working remotely.

Scripture tells us, “In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps” (Prov. 16:9, NIV). My flesh is frustrated by that because I like the security of knowing the plan. My Spirit is relieved because I’m not expected to have it all figured out. God does and He is trustworthy (Heb 11:6; Prov 3:5-7). I (Erika) won’t dive into the theology of it all here or list all the other related passages, but I will tell you that in my experience the whole paradox is an emotional rollercoaster and I often feel like I’m riding it blindfolded.

The recent adventure of applying for our visas has been a microcosm of this longer journey we’ve been on to get back to Italy. We’ve applied for visas once before, prior to our first term in Italy, so we were feeling pretty good about having some experience this time around. Unfortunately we recently discovered that the process has become much more complex and lengthy since then, probably due to the immigration crisis. That realization was discouraging because it meant an almost certain additional delay to our return to Italy.

So, today we were supposed to be at the Italian Consulate in Detroit applying for our visa (which we need to live and do our ministry in Italy). This visa appointment was the first big step in the process of gaining visa approval. Even though we had seen some exciting answers to prayer enabling us to gather everything we thought we needed for the appointment; it turned out there was still one big piece missing and we had to cancel our trip to the consulate.

Acquiring that missing piece requires finding an apartment for our family to rent in Italy. Apartment hunting has become our primary task  with the help of online search engines and amazing friends/teammates on the Italy side since we now have to find our next Italian home and have the contract in hand when we go to apply for the visa. Our new visa appointment is set for September 6th and we’ll keep doing all we can to be ready for it.

I’m sure you can all relate to watching your best laid plans fall apart or get rearranged. It’s an inevitable part of life but it’s still hard. When faced with all the changes my mind can hold out all the truths that remain steadfast, but my heart is heaving from all the uncertainty of my circumstance. I don’t know about you, but when things are uncertain I tend to try and find things that I can control. Sometimes that is a healthy thing. Often times I take it too far and the sense of security I crave becomes my god.

Last week when I felt emotionally spent and sick about another unexpected turn that blindsided me (regarding the visas) two dear friends sent me messages “out of the blue” each encouraging me to listen to the same song. They didn’t know how much I needed that word, let alone how timely it was, but God did. It was clearly a loving gesture from my sovereign and caring Father. He didn’t have to reassure me, but He did, through my Spirit-filled sisters in Christ, with the validating vulnerability and rich reminders of truth in the lyrics of the song Thy Will by Hillary Scott. I’ve bolded the lyrics that resonated most strongly with me at the time, but each line has significant meaning for various times of life. Maybe they will reassure you too:

I’m so confused
I know I heard you loud and clear
So, I followed through
Somehow I ended up here
I don’t wanna think
I may never understand
That my broken heart is a part of your plan
When I try to pray
All I’ve got is hurt and these four words

Thy will be done
Thy will be done
Thy will be done

I know you’re good
But this don’t feel good right now
And I know you think
Of things I could never think about
It’s hard to count it all joy
Distracted by the noise
Just trying to make sense
Of all your promises
Sometimes I gotta stop
Remember that you’re God
And I am not

Thy will be done
Thy will be done
Thy will be done
Like a child on my knees all that comes to me is
Thy will be done
Thy will be done
Thy will

I know you see me
I know you hear me, Lord
Your plans are for me
Goodness you have in store
I know you hear me
I know you see me, Lord
Your plans are for me
Goodness you have in store

So, thy will be done

One thing that has come from this unexpected detour in route back to Italy is that I’ve become more anchored by his love and grace. The storm still buffets me but I’m quicker to call to Him and cling to Him – to realize sometimes I gotta stop, remember that He’s God and I am not. His plans are FOR me, not against me. It may not all be visible this side of eternity, but He has goodness in store and its all for His glory. So, Thy will be done.