Saturday, November 25, 2017

Life After the Wilderness

When I moved to New York City over five months ago, I came with no real plans after the first two months. I knew what I wanted to happen, but I truly didn’t even know if I would get to stay past those two months. But, God has done tremendous things for me during my time here, and I know I’m exactly where He wants me to be. Living inside His will for your life is the most refreshing and rewarding place to be, and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else but here. 

This past month, in a Bible study for a church plant that I’ve been going to, we’ve been talking through a series called “Braving the Wilderness” – meaning: a season of life when you don’t know what is on the other side or how you’ll get through – super fitting for me, considering for the past several months, I’ve had no clue what I was even going to be doing the very next day. For someone like me who is such a planner, I struggled with not having a plan and feeling like I didn’t have anything to live for. Every day consisted of me waking up, job searching, eating, job searching, sleeping, job searching. I was walking around completely lost in my wilderness, all while living in the city of my dreams. You can imagine it was a very weird place to be. Finally, I came to the conclusion that my worrying wasn’t helping – if anything, it was making things worse by proving that I hadn’t learned yet what I needed to about trusting God. If the whole point of my waiting/wilderness period was to learn how to trust Him, how would I ever be able to by continuously fretting over something that was truly completely out of my control? By trying to control it, I was keeping it to myself instead of letting Him take over. 

So, I stopped. I continued to job search, but I started to do it with confidence, instead of fear. And, I decided that I didn’t want anything that He didn’t want me to have. So, when I wouldn’t hear back from a place I applied or if I got an interview, but then got a rejection email back, I didn’t feel rejected or not good enough. Instead, I felt a peace and thankfulness knowing that God was keeping me from something that wasn’t for me. 

Finally, at the beginning of October, I landed an Editorial internship for InTouch, Life & Style, and Closer Weekly magazines with Bauer Publishing. This was a great experience. The magazine industry is a wild place, but a weekly magazine is even wilder. Watching stories and interviews go from Word documents to emails to printed pages in a magazine with insanely strict/short deadlines is such a crazy, cool thing. They have things printed 
before it’s even published on some Internet news outlets. 
It was awesome to see that happen in real time. 

Then, I finally got an email back from another magazine published by Bauer with an Editorial Assistant position open that I had been stalking since April. I landed an interview, which I thought went incredibly well. I talked with a few of the editors for over two hours about all the amazing things God has done in my life just this year – What kind of interview is that even?! – It was probably one of the most beautiful conversations I’ve had in a while. After doing an edit/writing test, I finally heard back that I got the job. I’m over the moon excited to say that I’m the newest Editorial Assistant for Simple Grace magazine – the world’s first inspirational monthly magazine and Christian devotional all in one. It would truly be an understatement to say that this is an answer to prayers because it’s not just an answer, but also an abundant blessing. My prayer was just for a job, but this is a job where I get to use my words for more than just entertainment purposes. I get to write about God’s goodness and motivate, inspire, and encourage readers to hang onto His everlasting promises knowing that His ways are higher and His plans are greater 
– in the same way that I’ve learned to do. 

In our “Braving the Wilderness” series, our Pastor said last week, 
“Could it be that the very thing that God is keeping you away from is the very thing that He knows would actually keep you from Him if you had it? Could this be the thing that He knows if He gave it to you, you wouldn’t want anything from Him? Out of His grace, love, and protection, He withholds it from you because He recognizes that the best thing you could have is not success in your career, not money in your bank account, not a relationship. The best thing you could have is Him. He chooses not to give it to you because it’s not the time and you aren’t capable of stewarding it well.” 
After hearing that, I realized how precious the time was that I got to spend wandering around in that wilderness for those few months. I had no plans, nobody, no purpose, no money (sorry, Mom!), no distractions, no schedule, nothing. It was just me and God. Every day was a new day I got to spend solely with Him leading me step by step to what would become my future. He had a plan when I didn’t. He knew who I needed and sent them to me. He knew the purpose, but was waiting until I learned to fully trust Him before He revealed it to me because He knew I wasn’t ready then.

The wilderness is a scary, unsettling place to be, but it’s also an incredibly necessary place for us to spend time occasionally. The wilderness comes in many shapes and sizes, and it’s different for everyone. It comes in the form of damaged relationships, dead ends, instability, bankruptcy, the unknown, confusion of identity, broken-heartedness, disappointment, failure, etc., etc. It’s whatever the enemy tries to use to bring us down and make us lose sight of what God has in store for us. It’s the devil’s attempt at making us feel unworthy of God’s blessings. It’s during this time that we have two options: choose to do it our own way and stay lost in the wilderness or let go of what we think is best and walk blindly holding onto the hand of Jesus leading us to the light at the end of that tunnel. 

Most times, the shouts of the enemy are louder than the voice of God. And, being in the wilderness gives us time to learn how to discern God’s quiet whispers from the devil’s raspy words. We are given a time of isolation to sit in silence and learn how to hear what it is that He wants us to hear. 
The wilderness is about finding your identity and allowing God to 
show you who He has made you to be. 

All we have to do is follow His lead, and trust that He will not only get us to the other side, but He will give us what He promised from the beginning. No matter what twist and turn we may face when in our wilderness, we can have no doubt about the fact that our God isn’t afraid of that wilderness. He knows what is at every bend, and we can rest assured knowing who we have on our side. When we finally make it to the other side, we’ll be able to look back and remember that when we had nothing, He gave us everything.

Can't wait to keep telling my story that He's writing 
in this city that I finally get to really call mine. :-)

(Click HERE to listen to the "Braving the Wilderness" series 

by Ricky Ortiz for Meta Church NYC)


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