Occasional notes from my 22-year-old daughter. I never know what to expect when she writes, but it's usually a pleasant surprise. Read on!
In 2015 one of those moments happened to come on the weekend I was celebrating my birthday. For me, my birthday is the new year (sounds egotistic but I don't care), and leading up to it I pray for vision, clarity and set new goals. To be honest, I wasn't that thrilled about turning 22. In high school, I truly believed that by 22 everything would come together. But here I was 6 years later, a "graduate" of USC who still had 1 class to complete, no direction, no church, no vision and I was so lost as to how it all got to this point. "Why isn't my life together?" I thought, and then I didn't want to think about it anymore, which goes to say I didn't want to talk about it, which led me to stop praying about it and eventually praying sporadically in general. Because how can I address God about a life I'm living halfheartedly and how could He understand?
But like I said, I didn't stop praying in total. My birthday is something I always prayed about and as I was asking God what I should do I kept seeing a desert. So I looked up national parks and my heart got stuck on going to Joshua Tree National Park, a huge desert 2 hours away from Los Angeles.
My friends were surprisingly up for it, which is a shocker because I don't have nature loving friends who like to explore desert landscapes just for the heck of it. Everything was planned and on Saturday, October 31,2015 we headed towards our destination with expectant hearts.
All the fun was had! We rock climbed, had a photo-shoot, had a devotion at the top of a mountain, picnicked and watched the sun set. We even prayed that God would show us a shooting star (ask and you shall receive) which He did! It was great, and then,at the end of the day, I realized I lost my phone.
As soon as I realized my phone was really gone the parable of the woman and her lost coin in Luke 15 came to mind. Specifically, the portion that read:
"8 Doesn't she light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it?"To which my first response was, "I'm not going to search the pitch black cold desert for a phone; next idea Lord." And once I gained a little more patience I added, "We have to drive back to LA and I don't want to come back here. I don't want to give up hope, but having hope about something so insignificant doesn't make sense." Regardless of how I tried to justify my position, the need to believe my phone could be found nudged at me the whole 2-hour ride back to LA. I dropped my friends off and we prayed with one another, after doing a thorough search of my car; then I proceeded on my way home.
Suddenly as I put my car in drive, it hit me how valuable my phone was: all my songs were on there in my voice memos, all my poetry in the notes section, all the things I hid and worked at on my own were on my phone.
I cried relentlessly as I realized the value of the things I had lost and the thought of never being able to recover them. While driving I began to pray and at the end of my prayer I looked up and to my surprise I saw another shooting star in the sky. I took it as a sign that somehow I would find peace at the end of this and God was with me.
God gave me a desire to work for what I saw as valuable and believe that it can be completed even when everything else seemed bleak. So the next morning I called the lost and found at Joshua Tree National park; I put my iPhone on "lost mode" from my iCloud account; I prayed and I went to church. My father took me to the AT&T store to find out what my options were for a new phone and what it would cost. I exhausted the options available to me for trying to find my phone and I was equally settled in trusting God, yet anxious to know what trusting God would lead to.
Later that day would you believe someone called my house from my iPhone to notify us that in this desert they found my iPhone! And they would be willing to help us get it back. According to the wonderful person who found my phone they were walking along an unusual route trying to find cell phone service when they looked down in a ditch and found my phone. Oh, and they don't even live in California they just happened to be doing a weekend trip with their outdoors group.
This particular moment of my perpendicular experience with God and my earthly life gave me a very important lesson: God values our diligence. I personally admire Nehemiah in the Bible, because he is the epitome of a diligent worker, but I've always felt like my personality is too different from his. I could not lead the building of a temple in 52 days but I'm glad God inspired someone to. But what work really boils down to is a series of intentional acts of obedience. Knowing what God has called you to do, you decide to systematically put in the effort, gradually progressing toward the point of completion, exhausted by every effort, because what He has said is overwhelmingly valuable in your life. Even if it seems impossible, do all that you can. God values your willingness to use your life to do His will.
And since God has allowed me to narrate these experiences I might as well let you in on a secret: I'm no one special, and what happened in this story could happen to anyone who is learning to trust God daily. I'm simply the person by which this story came and I hope it encourages you to trust God MORE each day.
In the comment section, I'd be interested to see what other lessons you readers may have found in my story and what those lessons mean to you. I hope you all have many moments like this in the new year. :)