[Photo Credit: Getty Images]
Australia | Danelle Stothers

I love thoroughly detailed plans based on an abundance of research. I do not love being in the unknown or experiencing the unexpected. Late one afternoon, I found myself facing the most overwhelmingly unknown and unexpected decision of my life—one that required my husband and me to make an immediate decision: stay in our comfortable life in Australia or relocate to New Zealand, a country that was completely foreign to us. I grew a lot in my relationship with God through this experience and learned a few things along the way.

Be courageous (Deuteronomy 31:6)

I can’t say leaving my home in Australia and moving to a country to which I’d never been was in the life plan I imagined for myself. I’m not sure anyone deliberately makes life plans that are outside of their comfort zone—that leave them feeling afraid or terrified. Yet, here I was, facing the possibility of a total life upheaval. 

I can relate to how Joshua must have felt when he was told to be “strong and courageous”. Faced with the huge weight of responsibility for leading the Israelites out of the wilderness into the much-anticipated Promised Land, I’m sure he was feeling afraid and terrified. These were feelings to which I could relate. However, once I processed the fear and mustered up as much courage as I could, I found myself feeling nervous excitement at the possibilities to come. When I replaced fear with courage, I was able to be open in taking an objective approach to hear what path God intended and felt comfortable with whatever decision was made.

Take comfort in knowing He has great plans for you (Jeremiah 29:11)

I clung to this promise in Jeremiah as we were making the decision. My husband and I were committing to a life in ministry and needed to know where God intended us to be. He was silent. We prayed again but still did not hear which option we should choose. After an emotionally turbulent night, in the still hours of the morning, we knew God’s instruction: ”there is more growth to be had in the unknown”. Our future would be in New Zealand.

Trust Him completely (Proverbs 3:5, 6)

If you have ever relocated countries, you will know how many things there are to do: quotes from removalists, selling cars, terminating various contracts, and giving away items that wouldn’t get through Customs. These were the easy things to tackle, as they were all in our control. The hard part came once we had ticked everything off the list and realized there was nothing else we could organize. Where we would live, how we would get around, where I would work—even the simple things like setting up a bank account or where to buy groceries. As we got onto the plane bound for Auckland, we weren’t sure where we would stay that night or if there would even be someone to meet us at the other end.

This is where my trust in God was stretched to its absolute limits. I was walking blind with no clue what my next step would be. I just had to trust that God had made my path straight (spoiler alert: He had!).

All things will work together for good (Romans 8:28)

It has now been six years since we moved from Australia to New Zealand, and much has happened in our lives since then. We had one major move between the cities of Palmerston North and Hamilton, and during the height of the pandemic, we relocated back to Australia. Reflecting on our ministry journey thus far, what I learned from this first disruption to my comfortable and familiar life would completely revolutionize my relationship with God and form my understanding of Him as a gracious and loving Father—one who always had my back, whether I could see it in the moment or not.

This article was originally published on the website of Adventist Record