Is this really happening??
Am I really moving to Sicily in less than two months??
How did I come to be in this place where I am preparing to leave my friends, family, culture and comfort zone behind and for an indefinite period of time? Will I be gone for 2 years? Or will it be 10? Or 30?
Did I really make the decisions and take the necessary steps to get myself where I am today, preparing to move overseas? In moments such as these, I have to wonder if I had anything to do with this at all. The thought occurred to me today that if moving to Italy was my idea, rather than God’s, I think I would still be living in my affordable, quirky, peaceful little place in Sebastopol. I’d very likely still be working for Starbucks. I’d probably be making plans for friends to come over to go swimming in my pool since tomorrow’s temperatures are slated to reach the low 90’s.
I probably wouldn’t be eating cheddar cheese, Mexican food and waffles like my life depended on it, knowing there is a sore lack of these in Sicily. I definitely wouldn’t be going through my stuff trying to figure out what I should hold on to and who might be able to use the things I can’t keep or take with me. And I certainly wouldn’t be dreading the many goodbyes I will have to make in the coming weeks.
But I am here. Submersed in this season of preparation.
I did make those decisions and take those steps that led me down the road I’ve been traveling.
But it wasn’t my idea.
10 years ago while on a summer missions trip with some friends from college, I was walking through Parco Montagnola in the city of Bologna when the Lord whispered into the ear of my heart that He had plans to bring me back to Italy long-term. That was 10 years ago. If I doubted what I heard back then, I have long passed the point of doubting it now. This was not my idea. This isn’t to say I don’t like the path God has chosen for me but I can’t take credit for even the smallest detail of it. This was all Him. And because I am confident of this, I have peace. A beautiful and deeply rooted peace.
Lately this season has reminded me of a similar one I was in the year before I went to Multnomah University. With the exception of my grandparents, none of my parents or relatives could help me with tuition. Multnomah isn’t nearly so pricey as some private colleges can be but for someone who had no money set aside for college, it wasn’t cheap either. Many times throughout the year when I was applying and preparing to go, my family and even a few friends asked me how exactly I planned to pay for the tuition.
I didn’t have an answer. But what I did have was peace.
I had no idea how I would pay not only for tuition and books but also for housing, food and everything else I would need to live in Portland for the next three years. And all while being a full-time student?!
Much to the dismay and confusion of my family members, I wasn’t fazed by my lack of understanding in how it would all work out. After all, I had peace. And not just any peace mind you, I am confident it was the peace described by Paul in the following passage:
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7
Unless you have had such peace yourself, it is incredibly hard to describe aside from what Paul says of this type of peace: it surpasses understanding. It doesn’t make sense.
In high school I remember giving a friend a hard time for applying and attending a college he had never visited.
How could you make such a big decision without even going to visit the campus?!
He shrugged his shoulders as he looked at me and said,
Someone I highly respect recommended it to me and I just knew that was where I was supposed to go.
He just knew. He knew because God had given him peace that this particular college was where he was supposed to go.
I ate my words four years later. The first time I laid eyes on Multnomah’s campus was as my parent’s Durango pulled into the main driveway the day they dropped me off at the start of my first semester. I didn’t need to visit the campus before I made the commitment to go as I had been so convinced was necessary a few years earlier.
I just knew.
Or maybe it isn’t a matter of knowing so much as it was confidence in the unshakeable peace within me testifying that this was what was right. This was where I was supposed to be.
This peace, mind you, is not a feeling. Feelings are fickle and come and go faster than waves on the shore. This peace is like an enormous mountain. Like Everest or Kilimanjaro… or Mt. Etna!
And wholly undeniable.
If you ask me how God will provide all that I need to move to Sicily in less than two months, I won’t have a well-thought out, fool-proof plan to speak of. But I do have peace. Peace that comes from knowing my faithful and loving heavenly Father does have it all figured out.