“. . . the only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” (Galatians 5:6)
Otto Lake shines like glass, and I find myself looking to the hills for help. Somewhere in the recesses of my memory I remember something about help coming from the hills, and I’m desperate for help. I’m just into the decade of my twenties, and I think I’m grown up now.
Mosquitoes hum around my headnet, a constant reminder that I am far from home. I wonder if they might speak the truth of my future and catch myself listening for just a moment.
I came to Alaska to find answers about my career, myself, and mostly about God. I don’t know it yet, but he’ll graciously provide answers to all three.
A fish jumps, casting tiny circles that ripple the whole way to the shore.
I’m praying about whether to leave my home in Pennsylvania to pursue a teaching career in Alaska, or whether this summer job at the gas station will be my final stay in Interior Alaska. I’m waiting for an answer from God, and I’m weighing it all out. I love the endless mountains, the sense of adventure, and the constant daylight of the Alaskan summer. But I miss my family, my friends, and the freshly cut hayfields of Plain Grove.
I open my Bible for the first time since arriving in the land of the midnight sun. I don’t read it much these days. I believe God let me down, and I’m offended. But I still believe he’s there, so I open it and start reading in the book of Galatians. I make it to chapter five without noticing much anything at all.
A mosquito penetrates my headnet, and I smash it between the green netting with a bloody pinch.
Then it hits me: “. . . the only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love” (Galatians 5:6).
I’ve been sensing God’s voice often throughout my summer excursions, but most of the time, I’m looking in all the wrong places. But this day, on the lake, God’s voice is clear and sweet. It has to do with my calling, and I have no doubt this is a Word just for me.
I can move to Alaska to teach, or I can search for a job in Pennsylvania. What matters most is that I live a life of faith expressing itself through love. If my decision is based on love, if it seems wise, I will simply weigh my options and make the best decision I know how to make.
I gaze up at the mountains surrounding the quiet lake, and I know the answer. I don’t really want to abandon all that I know and everyone I love. I don’t really want to relocate to a place where the sun won’t shine in the winter months. I don’t want to miss birthday parties, weddings, and funerals. I want to love God well and serve him a little closer to home. I’m afraid of where life might lead if I stay here with all the temptations of dark winter living. I close the Bible and stare at mountains reflected on Otto Lake. I will let my faith express itself through love and make the best decision I know to make.
I left Alaska with tears that summer, and I haven’t returned since. I’m pleased with my choice to teach in Pennsylvania, and I’m pleased with all the doors that opened as a result.
I used to mostly wait for God to speak to me with clarity in the form of a small whisper in the depths of my soul. And while he can speak in this way, more often than not, he simply calls me to make the most prudent decision I can make, always assuring it’s rooted in love. I still get hung up on this at times: whether to launch a writing career now or in four years, whether to start a blog or not, whether to say yes to extracurriculars for Bekah or not, and the list goes on.
While God has a plan and purpose for each of his children, sometimes we get caught up on hearing him just right and executing the details of our lives perfectly. What if we simply committed to make the best, wisest, most love-rooted decisions possible, and stop stressing over when, where, how and why? I believe it would set us free in ways we never imagined. What if we really trusted him to hem us in, behind and before? I believe we’d learn to walk in the assurance of his love and provision.
Someday I hope to return to Alaska – to sit on the porch of the cabin where I lived with Anne Marie, to walk along the Tenana River, to watch the Mountain glow at 2 a.m., and climb to the summit of Mount Healy. Someday I hope to sit along Otto Lake with buzzing mosquitoes and thank God for the quiet guidance along the journey.