Embrace the place: God met me where I didn’t want to go
The summer after my freshman year in college, I had the opportunity to do something that both thrilled and frightened me. I’d been offered an exciting summer internship, but it was hundreds of miles from both my home and college. I wasn’t sure I wanted to go.
Accepting this summer internship meant moving to Nashville, Tennessee, a place I had no experience with and where I would have no friends to rely on. I would be alone in a city, office, and apartment for the first time.
I also knew if I refused this opportunity, I would regret it. I had to face my fear head on.
During my first, second and third nights in Nashville, I cried. I doubted my decision to face such a big change in life.
That third lonely night I called on God for the first time in a long time. I prayed silently at first, and then out loud. I asked God to show me his plan in all this change, and to reassure me that moving to Nashville was the right thing to do.
I went to bed determined to make the best of where I was, and experienced the first answer to my prayer the next day.
Called for a purpose
I attended a United Methodist church service that morning in search of answers and social interaction. The pastor’s message titled “Embrace the Place” was about accepting where God sends you, even if it isn’t where you want to be. Being a follower of Christ sometimes means traveling to new places and enduring uncomfortable situations. Time and time again, the Bible provides proof of that.
Alone in Nashville, I thought of Jonah, a devoted follower of God called to a faraway place. God told Jonah to travel to the sinful city of Nineveh to speak to the people about their sin. Even when Jonah ran from God, God’s plan for him did not change. Jonah eventually spoke against Nineveh’s sin, and brought the whole city to salvation.
The story of Jonah helped me realize that my fear of being alone would not change my situation in Nashville. It would only make it harder to be happy and do what God called me there to do. I was in Nashville because God had a plan for me in that city that I needed to fulfill, close to the way Jonah had a job to do in Nineveh.
As God called Jonah to a foreign place, he also called me. Jonah was reluctant, just as I was. However, once “I called to the Lord in my distress and he answered me,” as Jonah did (Jonah 2:1), my situation began to change.
God made a place for me in Nashville. He brought people into my life that I grew to love and helped me succeed in my internship. As I began to accept the internship and wonderful city I had been placed in, I saw myself change.
Similar to the way Jonah saw God’s salvation at work in Nineveh, I began to see God at work in me. I did not bring a city to salvation as Jonah did, but I found renewed faith and shared it with the new people in my life. That is a small but amazing thing to watch.
The next time I cried in Nashville was on the day I left.
Because of my time there, I learned that we can rely on the presence of God even in places we're not sure we want to be.
As followers of Christ, we are sometimes invited to new places to face uncomfortable situations, but that is where God has worked in the lives of great biblical figures long ago, and in me this summer. By facing my fear and going where I wasn’t sure I really wanted to go, I found renewed faith in God and saw amazing things take place.
I plan to return to Nashville one day, to revisit the place God prepared for me there. Until I return, I will continue to travel to the uncomfortable places God calls me—as he has called so many before me.
*Taylor Bush is a member of Bainbridge (Georgia) First United Methodist Church, and a student at the University of Georgia. She received the 2014 Denman Evangelism Award in the South Georgia Annual Conference. Media Contact: Joe Iovino, United Methodist Communications. Contact him by email or at 615-312-3733.