God used Nicolle, someone I have never met and has no idea the impact her story had on me, to capture my attention and remind me that there's a bigger life to live. Her story is moving. It's emotional. It's powerful-- the kind of power that comes when people commit to doing "anything" for God and to loving His people no matter the circumstances. (You can read her story here in The Columbus Dispatch.)
A year ago, like most days, I was browsing status updates on Facebook when I read something and stopped scrolling down the screen. I was reading an urgent message about Nicolle's husband Dave in their sister-in-law's newsfeed. For some reason I couldn't just glance over it or ignore the words I read. It had been a long time-- I don't know how long but definitely too long-- since I had fervently and persistently prayed for anything that wasn't at least a little self-involved. I had become spiritually numb to the world and people around me, but the day I read that post I was compelled to pray-- not a quick prayer before moving on to the next thought or next event of the day-- I was held to my knees in prayer about this status update and the ones to follow, and each of them was more heart-wrenching than the last. As the story unfolded for me one Facebook post at a time, I prayed and believed and praised for people who would give their all, their anythings-- perhaps even their lives, to love and care for people who were in need.
I poured out my heart for them, and God did something unexpected-- He moved in me. One day I walked up the stairs in my house praying for Nicolle and Dave when I felt God impressing on me that it was time for me to go. That was it. Seemingly out of context. No clarity on what it meant. Just a feeling that I had been idle too long and had somewhere I needed to go. I had no idea where I would be going, but I was aware for the first time in a long time that I was being called to do something.
A few weeks later my sister, who didn't know anything about what I had experienced, sent me a message that Family Legacy was looking for teachers to go to Lusaka, Zambia. Before I knew it I was signing up to be a summer teacher mentor for schools where orphaned and vulnerable children in Zambia are given an education and hope. I would have never thought that my prayers for Nicolle and her family would be used by God to revive me and lead me to a classroom 10,000 miles away. Those weeks in Zambia last summer were a blessing beyond measure, and I can't wait to go back!
When I started praying that day a year ago I had no idea what God was about to do. For a long time I had been asleep spiritually, and it felt like such a large chasm had developed between God and me. I needed a way to connect again that felt real. I'm so thankful God uses people to display His love for us. God connected me to Nicolle's story and used it to turn my focus back onto a Savior who takes our "anythings" and turns them into something for His glory, into something to get excited about.