"What are your plans after you graduate?” Oh, how I shuddered when people asked me that question.
“I’m not sure,” I always replied. Why did it seem that everyone else had their lives so meticulously mapped out while my map was nonexistent?
That question about my future followed me around like a shadow. How could I succeed if I didn’t even know where I was going? Frustrated and hopeless, I turned to the only place I knew to be my shelter in the time of storm. I prayed, asking God to send me hope and an answer to this question.
Shortly afterward, I found His answer during my worship time when I read Jeremiah 29:11, 12. It says, “ ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.’ ”* As I sat there with my Bible, I felt God speak to me. “I know the plans I have for you, Hayley. You don’t have to know them right now, but you can trust Me because I do!”
How could I have forgotten to trust the God who brought me through the sudden loss of my father, who helped me adjust when we moved to another city, who blessed me with another wonderful father figure, who provided a way for me to go to a university debt-free, and who brought me to the moment when graduation was no longer just a dream?
This was too perfectly orchestrated to be just luck, and I certainly had nothing to do with it. He had been with me all the time and I had forgotten to trust Him! I finally knew what I wanted to do after graduation. I wanted to dedicate six months to sharing God’s love, although that was hardly enough time to thank Him for all He had done for me. But what would I do?
Again I prayed, asking God to open a door. After all, He knew my heart and I knew He had a plan. Soon I was presented with my answer. A friend who had volunteered to teach English at the Adventist language school in South Korea recommended that I do the same.
My first reaction was to argue with God: “I’m not a teacher, Lord! You’re not really suggesting that I go there, are You? I’ve never even left my home country before!” But God’s call had come, so I answered. The process was so easy that before I knew it, I was sitting on the plane with a sense of peace I still can’t explain.
I respectfully reminded God that my plan was to spend six months serving Him and then return home to South Africa to start my life. But when the six months were over, I knew I couldn’t go home yet. I wasn’t done serving God and the people I had come to love. I thought I would be teaching them about God, but He taught me so much more through them.
Six months turned into two and a half years of living, working, and serving in Korea. I’m so thankful He called me there. I learned to depend on Jesus and love Him more deeply through that experience. He took me to a foreign land to remind me that He is all I need and that He is indeed a great God.
I had told God that I would return to South Africa after six months to start my life. I’m smiling because I didn’t and I haven’t! Instead, I started the next chapter of my life in the United States with the kindhearted, God-fearing husband I met in South Korea.
Now, I no longer tell God what I’m going to do. Instead, I pray, wait, listen, and then move according to His plans.
I love the Lord so much for taking the time to divinely map out my life according to His will. I realize that if I had been allowed to do things my way, my life surely wouldn’t have turned out the way it has. I praise God for His call and for wanting to use a weak and broken vessel like me.
* New International Version
Originally from South Africa, Hayley Witbooi Proctor writes from the United States where she lives with her husband and fellow mission volunteer, Aaron. She served as an English and religion teacher at the Seventh-day Adventist language school in South Korea.
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I don’t remember much from those days. But one thing I will never forget. In the midst of my suffering and doubting, God reached me with just one electrifying realization.
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