“History unfolds itself by strange and unpredictable paths. We have little control over the future; and none at all over the past.” Winston Churchill
This week, I’m visiting Quetzaltenango (commonly known as Xela), Guatemala, speaking to English-speaking Middle and High School students at the Inter-American School’s Spiritual Emphasis Week. The Inter-American School is a private, Christian-based, English-speaking school. But, the students (mostly Guatemalan) come from a variety of spiritual and non-spiritual backgrounds. This week, I get to tell them about Jesus!
The reason I’m this year’s Spiritual Emphasis Week speaker is, my daughter, Malinda (Miss Rains, to her students), is the IAS art teacher. And, I’ve never been good at saying “no” to my daughter! Actually, I wouldn’t have said “no,” anyway!
As I was about to speak to the students, this morning, a thought crossed my mind…
“How the heck did I end up here???”
How did a 50-year-old gringo end up telling a bunch of Guatemalan kids about Jesus?
To many who know me, the answer might seem obvious…
- My daughter works and lives in Guatemala.
- My daughter works and lives in Guatemala, because she went on a mission trip to Guatemala, with her mother and me, when she was in high school.
- We were on a mission trip to Guatemala, because I’ve been leading mission teams to Guatemala for years.
- I’ve led mission trips to Guatemala, because I met a missionary, working in Guatemala, in 2007.
- I met a missionary in Guatemala, because I was a campus minister at Florida State University, looking for a place for my students to serve internationally.
- I was looking for a place for my students to serve, because I was impacted by a mission trip to Mira Flores, Mexico, when I was 22-years-old.
- I went on a mission trip to Mexico, because I was (unexpectedly) the new Youth Director at the First United Methodist Church of Orlando, and the trip was already planned.
- I was (unexpectedly) the new Youth Director, because I had just (VERY UNEXPECTEDLY!) felt like God might be calling me to become a pastor, and the Youth Director position became (unexpectedly) vacant at the same time.
- Before that, I had recently begun attending FUMC Orlando, AND LOVING IT. Before that, I had recently graduated from college. Before that… well, lots of things happened!
Looking backward, of course I ended up here, this week, doing this. But, if you told me, when I was in school, that some day I’d be visiting my adult daughter, in Guatemala, telling Guatemalan kids about Jesus, I’d have laughed. I didn’t know much about Jesus, and I couldn’t have found Guatemala on a map! My family didn’t go to church, nor did we travel internationally. I studied German in High School, because I couldn’t imagine ever needing to speak Spanish (even if I never came to Guatemala, living in Florida, Spanish would have been a LOT more useful than German!)
How, on earth, did I end up here, now?
The truth is, even if you’re never invited to speak to kids in Guatemala about Jesus, most of us end up in different places, doing different things than we ever would have imagined. We set goals. We make plans. We have dreams. But, life usually has unexpected twists and turns, altering the course of our paths in surprising ways.
“We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps.” (Proverbs 16:9)
“The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.” (Psalm 37:23-24)
“This is what the Lord says— your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: ‘I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is good for you and leads you along the paths you should follow.'” (Isaiah 48:17)
How did I get here? It’s God’s fault… or blessing! I choose to believe the latter. And, I speaking of choice, I believe our choices also have a lot to do with where we end up. In fact, I increasingly believe that every choice we make – every step we choose on our journeys (including choices ignorantly chosen) – have a lot to do with what steps will follow.
So, that’s how I ended up, sitting in my daughter’s classroom, this morning, and I’m so thankful! I never would’ve predicted it, but I’m so thankful for it! And, I can’t help but wonder what this moment of my journey will lead to next!
So, where are you this morning, what are you doing, and how did you get there?
And, I wonder, what’s next for you?