“The North American way – and maybe it’s just the human way – is that we write our story and ask God to edit it. But God does not offer to be our editor. He wants to write the story. He wants to write us into an epic story that He has been writing throughout history with the whole human race.” (Steve Saint, The End of the Spear: Let God Write Your Story Sermon).
I thought I was writing my story to become an amazing teacher, until my dreams and plans came crashing down. I took 5 years to get my bachelor’s degree and my master’s degree in teaching. The best job I could get after graduation was a janitor/teacher’s aide at an elementary school. I thought, “I’ll work my way up and prove myself and next year I’ll be teaching.” Budget cuts ruined that dream in one day. Then, I was offered me a full-time custodian job at another elementary school, which was the funniest and most insulting job offer I every received. As, you might guess get I didn’t take the custodial job offer. About a month later, I accepted a 5th grade teaching position in Uganda. Six weeks later, I left for my great adventure.
My great adventure quickly turned into a scary and lonely adventure that I wished I could escape from. However, The Master Author had other things in mind. He protected me over and over from danger though I often had to shop, go to church, and go venturing by myself around a place that wasn’t home: the bustling city of Kampala. Again and again, God protected me from illness, boda boda (motorbike) accidents, matatu (taxi) accidents, and men that could have taken advantage of me. The following verses became very dear to me and I posted them on my wall:
“For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many (2 Corinthians 1:8-11, ESV).
I unexpectedly found out what unconditional love really was when people so unlike me from other cultures were the ones who showed me what Jesus’ unconditional love really was. My students taught me to how to love unconditionally even though they drove me crazy. I wept over their behavior, but loved them all the same, just as God loves me. God wrote a story of protection, unconditional love, and a passion for Uganda that I could never have imagined.
Upon my return home, I grabbed hold of the pen to my story and obtained what soon became a nightmare teaching position that I quit after six weeks. I then sought out a new job, prayed and honestly told God how I felt for a couple months. God then provide a job working in a university registrar’s office where I mostly answer emails and process numerous requests. This was not what I planned or wanted as a chapter of my story. However, the Master Author knew I needed the job to make a new friend who would invite me to his small group and then lead me to my current home church. Now, I have a church family that has helped me grow, a small group that I minister to, and a younger girl I’m mentoring. God has even written international friends into my story that are such amazing gifts! While I often try to take back the pen, I long to sing the following words and let God have the pen instead:
“I’m an empty page
I’m an open book
Write Your story on my heart
Come on and make Your mark
Author of my hope
Maker of the stars
Let me be Your work of art
Won’t You write Your story on my heart
Write Your story, write Your story
Come on and write Your story, write Your story.
Won’t You write Your story on my heart (Write Your Story, Francesca Battistelli).”