It is not quite time for Africa by Michelle Clarkson

Although I have been putting off writing this post for over a week now, even before I started my eyes welled with tears. Regardless of how elegantly I try and say this, it still breaks my heart to have to tell you I am not going to Swaziland in the spring.

I was unable to raise the money I needed in the short period of time I had to do so, and I was given a choice; buy the plane ticket and pray the money comes in before I am set to depart and risk losing the money for the ticket or wait and be deferred onto another trip. I fasted and fervently prayed about it for days, half expecting for a booming voice to come down from heaven or to stumble upon a burning bush that held the answer of what to do. Neither happened. All I heard was a whisper; a whisper so quiet I thought it was simply my fear or doubt, for I figured The Lord's voice would be much louder and reassuring in this case.

It said wait.

If you saw me the days after I found out I was going, you experienced the excitement that overflowed from my body in the form of tears, spastic dancing and shaking hands. There was no part of me that considered the possibility I would not go in the spring. I knew my desire to go was from The Lord and I thought that by being accepted it was the door being clearly opened. I immediately wrote a support letter, made a Facebook group, called people and danced around to Shakira's song, Waka Waka, It's Time for Africa almost every day. For over a month I prepared to go, I got my passport, information on the immunizations I would need, camping supplies, I even got Chacos (a pair of sandals I promised myself I would never give into buying.) I also began getting to know my team and quickly saw how each of us were already being connected in what Jesus was doing in our hearts for the months before. I loved them and would look at my countdown on my phone everyday to see how many days until we would be together serving the Kingdom of God in a land that already had won my heart. In my mind, and I think most of my friend's minds, I was going to Swaziland in the spring.

When I was on the phone with the organization I was going with telling them of how I didn't have the money I needed and was unsure of what to do, my soul began feeling crushed. When I told them that I think I had to wait until the next trip I began sobbing, even though I was on the phone, it was one of those really ugly and violent cries, the kind where immediately snot is running from your nose and you kind of sound like a wild animal. I hung up and cried for hours, sure that I had made a mistake. The days that followed, whenever I would have to tell someone I was no longer going in the spring, it took everything I had to not start sobbing again (sometimes it did not work and I didn't have anything in me to stop the tears.)

I felt defeated, I felt unworthy, I felt embarrassed and shameful. People try so hard to be encouraging and from the moment I told them I was going, they're response was "God will provide the money, don't worry about it the short time you have to raise the money." I knew this was true, I serve the God who parted the Red Sea, surely He could provide the $6,500 I needed to go without even blinking His eyes. The thing is I don't have the money I need to go. I knew it wasn't because my God couldn't do it, so I figured it had to be me. I thought He changed His mind, He no longer wanted to use me in Africa. I thought I had done something wrong. I thought I had heard God wrong when He told me to apply for this trip and that I really couldn't hear His voice. So quickly it became about me.

I was reminded of a sermon I had heard weeks before and it immediately brought me peace.  In Luke 10:17-20 it says "The seventy-two returned with joy, saying "Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your Name!" And He said to them, "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven." I see now that I put so much of my worth in being a servant of God in Africa. I am so afraid of being unworthy that I thought by going halfway across the world and being a missionary, I would deserve God's love more, that I would finally be a good enough daughter. While I still think He is calling me to do this, I was reminded that God loved me as His daughter way before next semester, He wrote my name in heaven knowing that I would not go to Swaziland in spring 2014. So while it breaks my heart and seems unbearable to not be leaving in 20 days, I rejoice in knowing that my worth is not in my ministry, it is not in how many people I share the Gospel with or baptize (while this are all beautiful and good things we are called to do,) my worth is in my Savior being born 2,000 years ago this week and the life that HE lived, not me.

So I will not be in Africa next semester, I do not know if I will be in school, if I will have a job, I do not know what I am doing with my life, when I will be able to go abroad, who I will marry, if I will have children or how many days I will live. I do know that my God loved me so desperately that even before I was born, He wrote my name in heaven. I know that He is not surprised or disappointed about me not being in Swaziland in the coming months. I know that He will use this for His glory and my good. I know that His ways are higher than my ways and His plans are always better than mine. So even when it is hard to believe, even when I sit here knowing all of this and still in tears, I will trust that my God is sovereign and that it is just not quite time for Africa yet.