Saturday, 14 September 2013

Control: the Dangerous Illusion

 The ups and downs of my first week in Toronto


 "My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts," says the Lord. "And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts." (Isaiah 55:8,9)

I imagine there is a time in everyone's life at some point, when one steps back, shaking one's head in bewilderment, thinking "this is not how I planned things to go". As humans, we have an innate tendency to plan the future, whether consciously or subconsciously. We expect, we presume, and we hope. It is a dangerous tendency.

On Sunday, September 8th, I began my journey with Urban Promise Toronto. My parents and I ventured out to the intern director's home for a lunch where I would meet the other interns. I didn't know a single person, and it scared me a lot. But as I got to meet and talk with the interns, I became confident that though it would be stretching, it would be a great year. The group is diverse, with interns from British Columbia, Australia, Scotland, and seven interns from Germany. With the Germans specifically, there is a great language barrier to overcome, which has proved to be frustrating and exhausting for them.


After lunch, the girls ventured to the apartment on Jane and Finch where we would be spending the night. I soon learned the joys of urban living: constant traffic, frequent sirens, loud music, drunk and angry neighbors, and of course, many cockroaches. Who would have thought that cockroaches is a main problem in the city! However, we did not have to endure this for long, as the next morning we left for Muskoka Woods for four days of training and bonding.

At this point, I still did not know where I would be staying permanently. Urban Promise is divided into three different camps which target three different communities throughout Toronto: Camp Freedom, Camp Victory, and Camp Hope. The girls serving with Camp Freedom and Victory stay at the apartment on Jane and Finch in the west end of the city, while the girls serving with Camp Hope stay at the apartment on Don Mills in the east end. At each location, there was the possibility of working with the children's program (ages 5-10) or the Youth Making A Difference (YMAD) program (ages 11-14).

As most people know, I have a passion for young teen girls, and so I was desperately hoping I would be placed with the YMAD program. Furthermore, I secretly wanted to be placed at one of the camps on the west side of Toronto, for I had been able to connect with many of the girls living at these locations, and the majority of the girls would be here. Being a "people person", the people I am involved with have the tendency to make or break a situation for me. I prayed fervently that I would be placed at one of these locations.

"People often speak about praying boldly...they believe it is a great act of faith to be able to ask boldly for something from God. But this is not so, it takes more faith to pray "your will be done", for in praying this, we forfeit all is the scariest thing we can do." 

Don't Go.

On Monday night, our placements were posted. I raced over to see where I would be spending the upcoming year, and when I did, my heart dropped. I was placed at Camp Hope, with the children's program, living with all Germans. Now don't get me wrong, I have nothing against any of the Germans, but the language barrier made it very difficult to connect with them, and all the new friends I had made were on the opposite end of the city. Essentially, it was the opposite of everything I had hoped, wanted, and prayed for.

I would like to say that I was mature and accepting of the situation; that I took it with a grain of salt and moved on. That I remained confident that God knew best and that His plan is better than mine. I would like to say all these things, but unfortunately this was not the case. I was miserable. I was upset, distraught, and worst of all, angry at God. I could not understand why He would choose to put me where I would have the most difficulty.

"I will boast all the more gladly in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest on me" (2 Corinthians 12:9)

I didn't understand, but I also did not want to understand. I ignored God, refused to seek peace but instead wallowed in my own bitterness. I am ashamed to admit this, but blessed be the name of the Lord, who looks past our ignorance, and loves and teaches us inspite of ourselves.

 Leaving it Behind

The devotion the next morning was on John 4: the story of Jesus and the woman at the well. The point was made that after Jesus had given the woman the gift of living water, she went to tell others and left her water jar behind. The woman recognized that Christ was sufficient, and in the process of sharing this gift with others, she forsook her own physical wants and needs. As we start this year of ministry we were challenged to leave it all behind - all of our expectations, and desires, and leave it with Jesus, trusting that He will provide.

It has been a gradual process, but little by little I have given this year up to God. It is difficult...we always sing that we surrender it all to God, but do we actually? Because in reality...control is a dangerous illusion. We can't control what will happen in the next year, week, or even minute. So why don't we give up our every breath to the One who makes it possible? Because I can assure you, that at some point in your existence God will throw a curveball, perhaps as His way of saying, "Take a seat. I've got this."

So here I am, in my new apartment with a beautiful view of the city I love, eager to have no control over anything.

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