This is Emily.
Her drink is an oat milk cappuccino from Kuppa Joy (her current place of employment!)
Friends, this Sips & Scripts was particularly cool for me because Emily was once a student in my English 3 class. Back before my last baby was born, I taught a class or two each semester at the local college. I typically taught composition, though this particular class was about argumentation.
Emily impressed me so much with her writing that I urged her to apply to be a tutor in the center of our college. (She tells that story slightly differently: she tells me I said “Emily! Please come apply to be a tutor in our center… if you think you can be on time for your shifts.” So I am guessing punctuality is something that Emily has grown into).
Emily is the younger sister of Amanda who you know from Sips & Scripts: Following His Calling to the College Campus. Both ladies are incredibly intelligent with hearts for the Lord as big as can be.
Emily only tutored for our center for one semester before she felt God’s calling to join Youth With A Mission (YWAM) in Australia. And off she went, spending over two years in various countries and becoming further involved in different positions therein.
When we sat down on one of the first lovely days of fall together, she talked with me at length about how she listens to God in order to be obedient to the plans He has for her.
2020 DISRUPTED A LOT OF PLANS
“I have always had a pretty long-term plan. I planned to return to Australia in March to help staff a school for YWAM which would run about a year.
After the year, I planned to return to the States to get my degree, and then move to Los Angeles to pursue a career in film.
As you know, March of 2020 fit into no one’s plans. Not long after I landed in Australia, we went into lockdown, and the school I was preparing to staff was cancelled entirely.
The cancellation presented an even bigger complication because my visa was not for an extended stay in Australia; it was supposed to cover me for the first and last part of the school mission. In between, I was scheduled to be in Europe and Pakistan.
I had no idea what would come of the year, but I let God lead me to the next right thing which was to work in online evangelism with a program through a Facebook group called Why God?
As you might imagine, the pandemic and lockdown caused a lot of people to seek answers and guidance online. Why God? connected us to so many individuals seeking answers, and people were giving their lives to Jesus. I longed for a house church to direct these new believers to, but in the lockdown, I could only remain grateful that they were reached through online evangelism.
Choosing to follow God’s lead to Why God? gave me a passion for church planting that I don’t think I would have had if I had continued in the YWAM staffing program. In fact, I feel like my passion had found a more specific focus: I have a friend who owns a coffee shop in Norway where he is able to disciple to his clients and then get them connected to his house church. I would love to do that. Church…coffee…community— these are all things I love that work together so well.
And so I worked for as long as I could on this special visa and then the next right thing was to fly home to California and to see what God had for me next.
And of course He presented an opportunity: through my mom’s work, I can get my Associate’s degree in Business Administration online for free. A BA degree would help me make my dream of owning a Christian coffee shop a reality. So in this time of limbo, this is what I am currently pursuing.”
MEETING HIM AT THE PLANNING TABLE
“When I converse with God, I like to pray out loud. This way, my thoughts are being vocalized, and then any phrases that circulate my mind are distinguished as His and not confused with my own.
And when it comes to planning out what is next for me, I sometimes get my imagination involved. For instance, when it came to deciding what to do about film school, I pictured sitting with God at a table and discussing the different avenues I could take.
In my mind, I presented different options to him (on paper is how I imagined it), and then based on his answers, I shifted the papers of plans around in response to what He tells me.
For instance, early on, He told me ‘Go do Discipleship Training School (DTS) for 6 months in Australia,’ and I obeyed which meant the film school paper was already sent to the margins.
After I completed DTS, I had the option to join YWAM staff or go to further schooling in YWAM. God directed me to join YWAM staff, and so I remained with YWAM for two more years in Australia amongst other countries.
I finally picked up in the pattern: film school was never in the plans He presented me.
I remember sitting in my room quietly one day, and I asked him, ‘God, are you trying to change my plans about film school?’
He said ‘yes. Shove the film school plans off the table’
I said. ‘Ok, God. There they go. And I shoved those plans off the table.’
He knows what is best for me. I know I would go into film programs and the industry with good intentions, but the work and the environment could so easily overpower my mission to share the gospel in LA. He showed me that this overpowering would be the result if I went down that path, and He is absolutely right.”
FOLLOWING HIS PLANS WITH OBEDIENCE LIKE ABRAHAM
“I want God to see me respond to His plans with true obedience. In YWAM, I learned that true obedience follows three criteria:
- True obedience is immediate: one can’t obey God based on one’s own timeline.
- True obedience is complete: one can’t have half obedience to God.
- True obedience is wholehearted: one can’t begrudgingly be obedient to God.
This is why Abraham is one of my greatest Biblical heroes— he was obedient to the fullest extent as evidenced in Hebrews:
By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.Hebrews 11.8, ESV
Abraham had to set aside any plans of his own in order to be fully obedient to God. And the verse about ‘not knowing where he was going’ is something I can completely relate to.
I love a full plan. God knows this about me. I can become secure and autonomous in a well-established plan. I go in to those kind of plans without conversing with God regularly, and that’s not what He wants. He wants to do the steps with me. He is not sending me off on my own to report back. He wants me to be where I come to Him daily.”
ADJUSTING TO THE CHANGED PLANS.
“Though I know that He led me the right way, it’s been a bit difficult to adjust to my new situation.
YWAM has an incredibly fast pace. Changes happen suddenly. We worked long days for outreach. When I was there, working so hard for the Lord, I felt affirmed in the busyness. I fell into ‘work = worth’ mentality a little bit— not that YWAM preaches that at all—but I felt so useful to God.
Now that I am home, the pace is slow and my workload is lighter. I take classes online and work at the coffee shop, but I often find extra time on my hands. And at first, it felt strangely unfulfilling to have all of this empty time. It’s hard not to fall into the American misconception that relaxation is selfish. It has been a process to get out of those busy rhythms and that work mentality.
One book that has helped me change my mindset about rest and margin is The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry by John Mark Comer. Comer was a pastor of a mega-church in Portland, but he hit a point where he had burned himself out. So he scaled back and reflected on hurry and busyness and how to best serve the Lord. He makes the point that if we are so burned out at the end of the day, we don’t have time for communion with God and prayer; we just binge Netflix.
One of my favorite passages in the book is when Comer quotes Walter Adams:
To walk with Jesus is to walk with a slow, unhurried pace. Hurry is the death of prayer and only impedes and spoils our work, it never advances it.
The pace of God is a slow pace. It is a pace of love. It is willing to wait. God teaches me in the waiting.”
I asked Emily what we can pray for. She asked for prayers for loneliness— living in a flat of twelve and then coming back to her parents’ house means she is no longer surrounded by peers. She also asks prayers for direction, clarity, and guidance for what she should pursue in 2021.
Next year, they want to run the school that Emily signed on to help with that did not get to run in April. Emily may be called back to run that school, or God may direct her to finish her AS and pursue the passion of running a coffee house. She will listen carefully to God, and shove whatever papers off the table that He asks her to.
May we all strive for the obedience that this young, twenty-something woman has.
with His love,