A friend commented this week that I seem to be much more settled now than I did when I first returned from Nauru. That is to be expected. However, it should also be expected that an extraordinary experience such as working in a third-world situation would unsettle a person.

People who have extraordinary things happen to them, be they struggles with and the conquering of cancer, an accident that nearly costs them their life, the loss of a loved one, often find that these events cause them to re-evaluate their lives, to give priority to different things, to reassess what their lives mean and what they want to do with the life they have.

A week ago I wrote this poem after doodling with my paints:

Across the page,
drawn at random
brush strokes blend and fuse. Colours clear and sharp now blur. One becomes many

My life:
The way is clear and sharp know what I’m doing, where I’m going. Then lines blur and run together

Strokes across the page coloured sweeps of life explosions, wonder and darkness surprises of light.

Multi-hued masterpiece:
My life.

We all have those times in our lives where the way seems certain, where we are sure of what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. And then life throws a curve-ball, something comes our way out of left-field. (Don’t you just love those American baseball phrases that have become part of our idioms? They are just so expressive!)

If you’d asked me 10 years ago if I ever thought I’d run a church, then I would have definitely said no. Prior to going to Nauru I had no intention or inclination for work overseas, especially in a third-world situation. Now however I feel as though a whole new world is being opened up for me with a range of new possibilities, perhaps even new ways in which to use my teaching skills.

Ephesians 3:20 in The Amplified Bible reads: Now to Him who by (in consequence of) the [action of His]power that is at work within us, is able to [carry out His purpose and]do superabundantly, far over and above all that we [dare] ask or think – infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes or dreams – or as my friend paraphrased it more simply: God is carrying out His purpose in me to do infinitely beyond my highest hopes and desires.

Although I can’t see the way clearly, I can be confident that God has his hand in it all. I know that God is working out purposes that not only fit with his plans but also draw out of me things I had secretly hoped for but never articulated; things perhaps I didn’t know were inside me.

God always has so much more for us than we can ever imagine. But in the midst of that unsettledness and uncertainty that new things bring we can learn again to wait and to trust. And then to be delighted by the surprises that He brings!