This time last year, I was applying deferred entry to uni. I knew I wanted to go to uni. I also knew I wanted a gap year - I always had done since my brother and sister went here there and everywhere on theirs, bringing back spiritual treasure with them each time. But I wanted to know what God's will for my gap year was. It was a time of doubt for me - am I even meant to be doing this, is this just my selfish human nature, I want to know God's heartbeat especially for this opportunity ... how do I find it? He spoke to me and confirmed my want to do Modern Languages next year. And the sense that I, and others kept coming back to was that God was saying "what do you want to do on your gap year?" It was like He was giving me the liberty and gift of this year. He was asking me to co-partner with Him. This is a really Biblical idea, and if I'm honest, I struggled to accept it. I just wanted God to give a sign out of the sky with an arrow saying GO HERE. But that didn't happen.
What did happen was that I started to depend on Him more and more. That is one of the most valuable things! It was hard but looking back now, I wouldn't change that experience - I can see all that God was preparing me for. One day, my art teacher randomly suggested that I do an art foundation course. I wasn't totally sure, and if I'm really honest, I wanted to go off on some amazing exotic adventure rather than stay in England and study art.
I decided I'd apply and see if I got in because it is really competitive. When I visited the college, I loved it. I could really see myself fitting in. I had my interview and got a place, and I had this unexplainable ridiculous JOY. Whilst on the campus tour, I had an overwhelming sense of peace that just convicted me that this place was where I needed to be for my gap year. The Spirit of the Lord was moving in my heart.
I was really excited all summer leading up to it. And then 2 weeks before leaving home, a lot of "flaming arrows from the evil one" - I had allowed my "shield of faith" (Ephesians 6:16) to drop for that moment in time. But what this did mean was that I had to consciously choose to trust in God with every small ounce of strength in my body. If I didn't, I couldn't cope.
On the way down in the car with mum, we prayed and declared scripture all the way. We asked for someone nice to meet when I got there. We asked for things to keep my mind off home in the first week. We asked for Godly strength.
This song holds a lot of significance for me. It got me through the tough time of leaving home, leaving my safe childhood stepping out into an adventure with my Lord and Saviour. I didn't want to do it without Him! It is based on Psalm 18, have a listen!
And it's true, there are hard things: - It is not always easy being away from home. And I have had to step out of my comfort zone a lot. But I'm not so fearful of doing that now. God is shaping me in radical ways, in ways that only He can do. I wouldn't change that for anything. And whilst part of me still wishes I got to go travel, I know that deep deep in my heart, I am in the right place for this year. No hardship that I encounter can ever take away from the all-surpassing greatness of knowing Him! I do have a long summer holidays, so am praying about what to do with them :)! Please join me in praying.
So I'll leave you with a word of encouragement and advice for you all -
This experience has made me realise that I just don't want to go anywhere that God is not calling me to be. Sometimes you have to look really hard to find what that may be, but believe me, it is such an important thing. "Keep on seeking, and you will find" Matthew 7:7.
He is shaping me in His potter's hands. And I believe that I really am just a jar of clay made to shine with the Lord's glorious treasure. (2 Corinthians 4:7)