Planning in the Dark
“We would love to have you come and join our team”.
The words that every 21 year-old, soon-to-be college graduate dreams of hearing. No more sleepless nights, wondering how you will ask your parents if you can move back in, no more job fairs, and no more uncertainty about the moment after you finish your last exam.
I wish I could say that I felt all those feelings upon hearing that amazing statement. In all honesty, I felt anything but relieved. The first thought that crossed my mind was, “I’m not qualified to be a teacher”, followed very quickly by, “oh dear, I’m moving to Japan”.
Fast forward ten months. I have been teaching English in Japan for nine of those months. My life is nothing near what I imagined it would be at 22. If you told me a year ago that I would have mastered the Japanese subway system before my 22nd birthday, I would have laughed.
When I think about planning in the dark, I always imagine a person embarking on a journey that has not been thought out entirely. I think of a person who is slightly unorganized, and loves to wing it. I can very easily say that I do not fit into that category of people. Up until recently, my definition of planning in the dark was identical with doing things at the last minute, and for what seems like the millionth time, the Lord has shown me otherwise. Planning in the dark means so much more than simply “winging it”. Planning in the dark requires you to completely let go of all control, and give your life over to something else. In the event of a massive bungee jump, you place your life in the hands of a 110-ft. long cord. If you’re going diving in the Bahamas, you let go of all control and trust your equipment to work properly so you won’t drown.
But what do you trust when your plans aren’t physically risky? I found myself in this predicament when I decided to move to a foreign country where I didn’t know a single person, and couldn’t even ask where the nearest outlet mall was. I couldn’t plan anything in advance, as desperately as I wished I could.
Initially, I refused to let myself be controlled by anything but myself. I know myself the best, so obviously, I know what is best for me, right? Wrong.
God knows us better than we could ever imagine. Through this season, He has taught me that planning in the dark requires a full, unwavering trust in Him. Whether we know it or not, every big decision we make as Christians is deeply rooted in our faith. Being physically brave is something that you can practice, and for some, it comes naturally. Spiritual bravery is given to us by God when we ask for it. In Luke 17:5, the apostles literally asked God to increase their faith, and as we all know, the apostles wrote the book on living a life that, from their perspective, was planned in the dark.
I could not be living and working where I am if I had not given up the ability to plan where I could see what the results would be. This experience has taught me more about the Lord and life than I could have ever imagined. My prayers in the last year have consisted of me asking God to give me something that requires a full trust in Him. Believe me when I tell you that that is exactly what He gave me. Whether you are 22 or 82, our need for spiritual growth never stops. So, what’s the easiest way to draw yourself nearer to God? I’ll give you a hint: just ask Him. You might not like what He has in store for you, but speaking from personal experience, it’s totally worth the horrifying risk.
By Erika Penner
Erika is a young adult, trying to navigate through the awkward transition from university student to young professional. She was born and raised in Mission, BC, but is currently living in Sendai, Japan, working as an English teacher. She enjoys spending time with her family and friends, and if shopping were a sport, she would probably be an Olympian. She also firmly believes that coffee is the most important food group. Erika is passionate about seeing people transformed by Christ, and is excited to see how God will use her as she embarks on a journey of serving Him!