By Matty Chen
I wasn't supposed to be in Raleigh.
How could a kid from Sydney, Australia possibly have known that he would end up in Raleigh, NC this September?
I loved spending my fourth and final year of college at the University of Virginia. My 2015-16 at UVA was the best year of my life, I would constantly say that to anybody who cared, and also to those who did not. I loved my community, and I loved Charlottesville. Naturally, I wanted to stay and thought that I might just extend this wonderful year into another, and another, and another. I didn't want the fun or the growth to end.
The Fellows program in Charlottesville seemed like the obvious choice for me - to remain in the town where all my friends are but also invest in my professional, spiritual, and relational development through the program. There seemed to be no better choice for my immediate future. Sure enough, I interviewed two days after submitting my application, and felt like it was all going according to God's wonderful plan. I was beyond just hopeful - I was determined, I was completely consumed by the idea of being able to stay in UVA if not just for another year. My plan was working out.
Of course, God doesn't think like me. God doesn't operate like me. His ways are beyond me, for I am filled with sin, and I cannot possibly comprehend Him fully. I was not accepted into the Charlottesville program, and to say I was devastated when I found out would be an understatement. But little did I know at the time, that was exactly where God wanted me. I thought He had abandoned me, He had promised me something and then took it away from me. That couldn't be farther from the truth. God never breaks His promises. God loves to mold us when we are at the bottom of the valley. When we have nothing to hold onto but Him - that is when we show who we truly love.
During this tumultuous time, I felt so very clearly God speaking to me: "Enter into this program with a heart for Me. Do this so you can learn more about Me, so you can grow closer to Me. Do not do this for any other reason. I am the Most High." A couple weeks later, Charlottesville's Fellows program director encouraged me to connect with Ashley, and so I got on the phone and called her. I thought God was joking around with me. Why would I want to go to Raleigh? I don't even know where that is. I thought God was going to work some wonders and somehow make it all work out, so that I can stay in Charlottesville. Alas, I had still not learnt my lesson. Thank God for Ashley Crutchfield, because as soon as I got on the phone with her, I felt an uncommon peace wash over me, and I instantly knew that Raleigh was where God wanted me to be. Away from where my friends were, away from where my home was, away from where my heart rested. God wanted so desperately for me to realize that He was more important than any of those things. He just wanted me, and for me to be content with wherever I was and wherever I will be, as long as He is with me.
So here I am, in Raleigh, where I fully believe God wants me to be. I am in community with a wonderful group of God-loving people, and I am learning more than I had anticipated and completely enjoying it. How could I have known that I would end up halfway around the world from Sydney where I grew up?
I couldn't have. And it doesn't matter. I don't need to know where God is taking me. I just have to be willing to say "yes" when He inevitably takes me to where He wants me to be.
God works in mysterious and wondrous ways, and I love that.