I prayed and found my life changed. The same God who parted the Red Sea and delivered the Israelites from Pharaoh’s army still works miracles today.
My life in Singapore was good, and I had a comfortable routine with my work, church, and family. I wasn’t looking for change. Twelve years before, I had moved back from the United States to be with family. Over time my career had progressed well, with regular promotions and opportunities for professional development. An opportunity soon opened up for doctoral studies, along with a doctoral teaching assistantship.
While I was excitedly tracking official documents, my professor e-mailed the class schedule. My heart sank. As a Sabbathkeeping Seventh-day Adventist, I saw a class would be held on Saturday. Further clarification indicated it would not simply be a one-time occurrence, even if I were tempted to let my convictions slide one time. After e-mailing I would be unable to proceed, I cried for a week. Strangely, through the tears, I felt at peace. It was important to honor my Creator above my ambition.
Several months later another professor told me that the university was expanding its campus in Japan. She offered to accommodate my spiritual convictions, and did not schedule for Saturday any of the classes I needed. I was amazed at and grateful for God’s provision.
Stand back, take a deep breath, and be amazed.
After finishing those courses, I prayed. Now at a crossroads, I asked God for a clear sign to continue studying or move on to life’s next chapter. A year later, I accepted a job offer that involved relocating to the United States. The plane ticket was booked within three weeks, the visa application was approved in two weeks, the appointment at the embassy occurred within a week, and the visa was returned within two business days! On the second day of the new year, I found myself again halfway across the world.
My aging parents were not thrilled about the distance of the move. During this time, we all learned about increasing our faith. Yahweh Shammah (the Lord is there) settled our doubts and fears one step at a time. The final confirmation came with the offer of a full scholarship from another university.
At first glance, no one would ever turn down a scholarship, especially one that also included living expenses. Even though this university was also overseas, it was closer to home than the other program in the United States. Acceptance seemed a natural choice, yet I did not have peace.
God’s wisdom, in the words of Charles Spurgeon, “is our direction, His knowledge our instruction, His power our protection, His justice our surety, His love our comfort, His mercy our solace, and His immutability our trust. . . . Oh! How sweet thus to behold Jesus, and to call upon Him with the certain confidence that in seeking the interposition of His love or power, we are but asking for that which He has already faithfully promised.”¹
Down on my knees, I realized that my conversations, questions, and pleas to El Olam (the everlasting God) would inevitably decrease as I lived the comfortable life of a full scholarship. While it was everything I could possibly dream of, spiritually, for me, it would not be positive. Throughout the past year I had seen God provide work right down to the location—it was ideal access to the university. He even provided young charges to mentor, something that I had wished for, and He had enabled sooner rather than later. This path would continue an ongoing dialogue with Him about what needed to happen each day. It seemed the scholarship was a huge distraction.
One day in a sermon, my pastor, Bayu Kaumpungan, rallied church members out of their comfort zone with his message to “Be bold!” His message convicted me that choosing the scholarship option was not the wisest road to take.
During the final month, God also provided unexpected prayer partners. Old friends, new friends, all comfortably joined in the upward-turned conversation, because this path was filled with unknown questions.
God provided one key piece at a time, so there was a lot of waiting before the tapestry was pieced together. Yet, without a doubt, there was and is a quiet settledness; I am assured that whatever storms and challenges that may yet arise, I can rest in my Father’s arms.
Do you have a Red Sea dilemma? Do you feel hemmed in, against all odds (Ex. 14)? Whether it is a career impasse, an abusive relationship, or weighing a call to mission, take it to the Lord in prayer (Isa. 1:18; Ps. 34:8). Ask for courage to dive deep into the faith experience, to take action, set up the fleece test, and for wisdom to discern the next step.
God is our Sustenance, our Creator, our Redeemer, our Protector. God has our good at heart—our safety, our well-being, healing, restoring relationships, all in His good time (Matt. 6). While there are no one-size-fits-all actions prescribed, there are sound principles laid out in His blueprint (Ex. 20). Walking by and in faith shows us God is trustworthy and faithful—He keeps His word (Prov. 3:5, 6).
Then, stand back, take a deep breath, and be amazed. Prayer opens up surprising and unexpected ways to understand God’s love and character, ways that are uniquely personal and breathtaking. Our response to answered prayer is overwhelming gratefulness at His mercy and omnipotence, and delight and humility that He would concern Himself over the little details that mean the world to us. God is real. God is good. God is love. God loves me!
Through lived prayer experiences, you too may have a deep and profound encounter with our heavenly Father. He is interested in the little details that we care about, our hopes, dreams, desires, and wishes, and He has the big picture. In the words of an inspired author, Ellen G. White, “We have nothing to fear for the future, except as we shall forget the way the Lord has led us, and His teaching in our past history.”2
The invitation is ever standing, and we are all invited to take His hand, to let Him guide us one step by one step. God wants to bring us rest, and His assurance of perfect peace is the balm for uncertain times. At every pause and juncture we are invited to set aside all our worrying and anxiety, to wait upon Him, and to see Him come through in a way that only He alone can (Isa. 40:31). To God be the glory, the honor, and the praise always (1 Tim. 1:17; Jude 25)!
Melanie Kwan writes from Takoma Park, Maryland.