kara

The GREAT Unknown by Kara Nothnagel

THE GREAT UNKNOWN. IN A NOVEL IT SOUNDS beautifully mysterious, doesn’t it? Wide open space with no boundaries, no time constraints, no systems or agendas, nothing but opportunity and potential. Yes, it sounds so ‘free.’ That is until you are living smack. bang. in the middle of it. And, the only thing you have to hang onto is a word or a promise whispered into your heart by The One who made you. There have been times in my life where I’ve heard what God was saying, ran with it and then saw it happen – those moments felt glorious! But in recent years, there have been times where we had plans and vision, where we were running fast and hard towards what we felt God had said, and then… everything changed. Our plan went awry, and we found ourselves plucked out of what had been our ‘land of liberty’ and into a place that, for us, was like a sea of unstable and unchartered waters that we never thought we’d have to navigate.A delayed visa application that, technically, is still pending, meant we had to move continents. I was pregnant with our 2nd baby, we had just started a new school, and we had made friends who had become family. Life was blossoming and blooming, and we were running hard and fast with the long-term, big-picture vision right in front of us in blazing Technicolor. Days turned into weeks, weeks into months, and still no visa. Months turned into a year, and we had to face the reality that things were not going according to our plan. And for a time, the long view was blurred at best. Proverbs says, “Many plans are in a man’s mind, but it is the Lord’s purpose for him that will stand (be carried out)” (Proverbs 19:21). “In their hearts, humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps” (Proverbs 16:9). “The steps of a [good and righteous] man are directed and established by the Lord, and He delights in his way [and blesses his path]” (Psalm 37:23). So, how do you find God’s purpose when your plans go awry?

How do you engage in the ‘here and now’ without letting go of the dream? I feel like Paul when I write, “not that I have already been perfected in all of this,” but these small thoughts are what I have learned and continue to be cemented in my life.

1) When your life is rooted and grounded in Christ, then your purpose is held secure within the safety net of the Great Commission and the Great Commandment. “Jesus came up and said to them, ‘All authority (all power of absolute rule) in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations [help the people to learn of Me, believe in Me, and obey My words], baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always [remaining with you perpetually—regardless of circumstance, and on every occasion], even to the end of the age’” (Matthew 28:18-20). What this meant to me was: Wherever there are people, there is purpose. We carry the Kingdom of God within us; we are called to be ambassadors of that Kingdom and represent (that means to re-present) the ways, values, culture, and rule of the King. We do that through what we do, in the place we are. So whether your circumstances reflect your idea of God’s plan or not, you are not without ultimate purpose, because where there are people, there is purpose. Where there are people, there is an overarching mandate that compels us to love, to serve, and to make plain the good news of what Jesus did through our lives. Do what you can with what is in your hand, with an attitude of humility. You never know, a casual coffee with a mum at school could turn into a lifelong relationship. A little writing job here and there could result in a business. That home you have to live in because you can’t afford anywhere else might just become the beacon of light that the community has been searching for. Look and see what God is doing in the ‘here and now,’ and if you can’t see, look again and again until you can. Ask Jesus, “Where are you in this?” because, just like the disciple on the road to Emmaus, Jesus may be right next to you without you even knowing. “If people can’t see what God is doing, they stumble all over themselves; But when they attend to what he reveals, they are most blessed” (Proverbs 29:18). 2) We got called out of a physical place, not out of

2) We got called out of a physical place, not out of relationship. For us, stepping out into the unknown meant us physically moving from one nation to another, with very little notice. However, we determined to keep our hearts aligned with the last thing God said to us which was that he had put us in relationships that were not negotiable. And so, we continued to sow time, effort, vulnerability, and even resource into where we had been grafted. Relationship trumps geography. Make the decision to stay connected, no matter what it takes. Find the people who will tend to the garden of your heart and hold the dream in front of you even when you feel like abandoning it. There have been days where we couldn’t see the woods through the trees, and those people lifted our heads, bandaged our wounds, and called us back to purpose, back to vision, and back to God’s promises and words over us. Another lesson, if you don’t have a friend, be one to someone else. Sow the kind of friendship that you are longing for and just see what God will do. 3) Enjoy

3) Enjoy every day—determine to really live, not just exist. And don’t let go of the dream. There is a fine line between waiting and drifting, and I believe that peace, joy, and hope are the distinction. Without hope, disappointment moves in, and disappointment is like a slow-working poison. Proverbs 13:12 says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life.” Hope deferred inevitably goes hand-in-hand with disappointment. And heart-sickness due to “There is a fine line between waiting and drifting, and I believe that peace, joy, and hope are the distinction.” Photography: Nas Abraham 45 46 those dashed hopes tries to strangle one’s ability to dream and hope again. Disappointment and dashed hopes give way to that voice first heard in the garden all those years ago. The voice that says, “Did God really say…?” I do not believe that everything happens for a reason. No, that is a dangerous thought pattern to follow. However, I have experienced that God, in His kindness, causes reason to come out of even the most un-understandable circumstances so that nothing is wasted in the Kingdom. There is nothing you can give up or lose for Him because He is a faithful and rewarding Father.

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Reason, purpose, and divine appointments have emerged in the middle of the unforeseen and unknown. I’ve felt my dreams fall into the ground and die in the soil of disappointment, only to be resurrected to life as part of a bigger picture that I didn’t even see before. Without peace, anxiety has a field day. Fear of the unknown is fear of a future without God in it. Fear is tormenting and relentlessly stands on the bank of the unknown trying to harass you into surrender. Do not surrender. There is peace to be found in the knowledge that God is a good, good, good Father. He is love, and there is no fear in love. Therefore, there is no fear in a life rooted and found in Him. He knows the future, and He says He has plans that are good and hope-filled.

The waiting season tests your pride because suddenly voices of accusations and unbelief pipe up with all their questions. The truth is, even if your plan doesn’t ‘work out,’ your life WILL because the Word promises as much! Having a joyful expectation toward God in the middle of the unknown is the killing ground for pride because there is no way to justify yourself. You must wait for Him who is faithful to work it together for your good.

I remember praying as a little girl to be a “planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor,” and I have learnt that when you have His splendour in mind, you can bloom wherever you are planted because it’s about His glory and not your own, His strength and not yours. So, what do we hold on to? We hold on to promises that are constant, proven, and faithful.

E N L A R G E

That is why waiting does not diminish us any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us, but the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy. // Romans 8:22-25

P E R F E C T & C O N S T A N T

You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind [both its inclination and its character] is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You. // Isaiah 26:3

K N O W N & U N D E R S T O O D

Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right there helping us along. It doesn’t matter if we don’t know how or what to pray. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching 47 48 groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves. He knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good. // Romans 8:15-17 Although we can be unsure as to how our plans may or may not unfold, I am thankful for a kind God who causes reason, expansion, and growth to emerge even from the most turbulent of times. And, I have finally settled that no matter what it looks like, He is faithful and I am not diminished in the waiting. So take courage, dear friend, as you stand on the precipice of the unknown. I am learning that there is hidden treasure along the way and breakthrough on the other side. Give yourself to do what He shows you each day until the end-goal comes back into focus. We serve a God who is in the business of doing the impossible; He is the God who makes a way where there doesn’t seem to be one. He is faithful, and He will unfold in and through you more than you could ever hope for, plan, or imagine. And whatever the enemy of your soul tries to throw at you for your destruction, God will not only turn around for your good but the salvation of a nation.

Kara, along with her husband Christian and 2 beautiful children are based in London, UK. As well as running their own business, they are also part of the thriving community at London Network Church. Kara, along with her husband Christian and 2 beautiful children are based in London, UK. As well as running their own business, they are also part of the thriving community at London Network Church.