by Julissa Soriano
“Cast a large net and see what returns to you.”
That was the advice that a wise friend gave to me at the beginning of this new season that was preceded by seasons of seemingly endless disappointment and pain.
After graduating college two years ago, I began searching for direction in my life. After praying about it, I felt called to do missionary work. So in October of 2016, I went on The World Race, an eleven-month missionary trip that took me to seventeen countries. Throughout the year I met incredible people from around the world and it completely changed the way I viewed life.
But, when I returned to America I hit a wall. Actually, I hit a couple of walls. There were many roads that led to dead ends. And if I am being honest I didn’t really seek opportunities because I was easily overwhelmed by everything. It was like God was telling me that New York wasn’t where I belonged but I had no idea. Something was just off and I could not put a finger on it.
God shut down job opportunities, a relationship, living on my own, and grad school. I thought for sure all of these things would work out. They were all really good things, right? These were areas in my life I prayed for and believed in.
Every closed door taught me more about myself and my ideas about prosperity and success. I thought true prosperity was a job title, a busy schedule, a relationship status, how skinny I was, an account balance, how many thriving friendships I had, my educational level, and material possessions.
Common buzzwords at my church were, “There is more!” “More increase!” Or my favorite. “Expansion!” Our definition of prosperity in the Western church is MORE, MORE, MORE. Ask for more, believe for more, and receive more, AMEN!!?? But what if the only thing I got was more of God and His presence? Would I be satisfied with just that? I walked away from church confused sometimes. I thought to myself, “God you are good, and I love you with all my heart. So why aren’t you doing this for me? Where is the fruit?”
After applying to graduate school and receiving a denial letter, I cried a ton. There I was yet again experiencing a loss. I had reached the end of myself. All I could do was lay on my aunt's floor and sob until I was physically exhausted.
But God continued to comfort me. Although I didn’t see Him do the works in my life that I wanted him to, He did offer me peace, unending joy, comfort, and greater intimacy with Him. I was perfectly lost in His presence. He reminded me what true prosperity was.
True prosperity is eternal life. True prosperity is what happens to your soul because that is the only thing that instead of monetary value has eternal value. Think of anything in your life that lasts forever. Exactly. Peter talks about how to receive eternal life in 2 Peter 1:3-11.
He said, "Everything that goes into a life of pleasing God has been miraculously given to us by getting to know, personally and intimately, the One who invited us to God. The best invitation we ever received!"
All that truly mattered was my relationship with Jesus.
The plan was if grad school didn’t work I would move to California. I went on a fast and one day I begged God to give me a word in the Bible. I didn’t want my move to be an emotional decision. I didn’t want to run from my problems, because I knew they would follow me wherever I go. When I opened the bible page I landed on “Whatever is on your heart, go and do it; God is with you.” (1 Chronicles 17:2) That same day I booked a one-way ticket to California, leaving on May 1.
Ending this chapter in New York has made me think about how far I’ve come since my real birthday, August 28, 2012, the day I was baptized. I think about how lost and distorted my view of God was. I thought of God as this observer calculating His love for me based on my every move. If I did wrong I would pay, if I did right He would give me good things. It sounds silly now but it’s true.
He is a God who is in the business of being patient, obedient, and steadfast. The further along in our walk with Him, the more He begins to test us so we can grow spiritually. He roots for us! Everyone always says God doesn’t give you something you can’t handle. I disagree with that. Maybe at the beginning of our walk, He gives us what we can handle. As we grow stronger, I believe He gives us things He knows we can’t handle so we can only rely on Him. God wants to flex and get all the glory.
More recently, I learned to seek God and trust Him, even more, when all my efforts fail and I feel hopeless. I learned that chaos bows down to me. Chaos serves me so that in the midst of it I can gain the character and strength to fight bigger battles. I learned that all authority belongs to my Dad, and He works everything out for me. I learned that my Dad holds a staff and a rod in His hand to pull me back to Him and ward off my enemies. My Father lovingly placed no’s in my life to redirect me to His yes.
So here’s to a new season in LA. Like Abraham with the Israelites, I have no idea what the next step is. All I know is He is sending me to LA. My responsibility now is to turn my faith into action. So I am doing all that I can with faith and trusting God with the impossible. I am glad I get to experience this new season in my life with a restored value system and the correct meaning of true prosperity. Everything else in this life is an added bonus.
I am excited to take you along on my journey!
Julissa Soriano earned a B.A in Journalism and has a passion for arts, fashion, beauty, travel, humanitarian work, women empowerment, and animal rights. She is currently a blogger and Associate Editor for Wit + Grace Magazine.