“You don’t go where you’re wanted, you go where you’re needed; you die if you have to, in order to show who He is.” – John Piper
Trying to find those “just right” words to sum up my struggles and my not-so-great days. The words that reassure you that you aren’t the only one fighting the good fight, but don’t paint me as a down-in-the-dumps, joyless being. Don’t let the words in past posts fool you into thinking I have my life together; I don’t, nor have I come close to leading a well-put, orderly way of life. My hair is split at the ends, my floor needs swept, shoes are falling, disarrayed, out of my closet. I forget to answer voicemails, books are never fully read, my bed is rarely made, and I’m living a messy, messy life. But when I say messy, I’m not referring to the dust on my furniture, or the growing to-do list.
My struggles and my not-so-great days remind me that I’m nothing short of needy. Needy for a refilled cup; more Jesus. Needy for Truth; more Jesus. Needy for love, and for a push in the right direction; more Jesus. Here I sit, yet again, writing about what my missionary heart is at odds with. I have big plans, and hopes that are high enough for the both of us. Big dreams, but a bigger God.
You see, I’ve grown up in the average state of Indiana, in an average home, in a below average town. A so called “world changer” isn’t something expected to come from your every day, average. I think “world changer” and I picture a Harvard graduate with inspiring quotes painted on their walls, and a recycle bin filled to the brim. I think of someone who only eats organic food and walks from place to place, rather than burning fossil fuels by driving a car.
But changing the world and changing the world for one person are two different things. And through scripture and movies and music and books, God has set a desire in my heart to do the latter, understanding that as I carry out His will, little by little the world as a whole will be changed.
I want to be the world changer in a sun hat with sunscreen covering the brim of my nose, hauling water from a newly built well miles away. I want to hand wash clothes, find my way by candle light, and feed growing children. I want to smuggle Bibles underground where thirsting people wait to be quenched by the Living Water. I want to wash feet and hold hands. I want to enter war zones and defend innocent people with no leaders. I want to share the good news, in every nook and cranny of this earth.
I’m reminded by someone new everyday that being a missionary or a relief worker doesn’t pay, that it’s not practical. I can’t afford it, I have to have a plan, I have to think about my safety. Oh my does it pay. It pays in joy and it pays in lasting relationships. And does God call us to practicality? Or does He call us to love and to give and to serve with every ounce of what we have to offer? I can afford it, knowing that God will be quick to meet my needs as I meet the needs of someone else. I don’t have to have a plan when Jeremiah tells me God has a plan for me. The way my heart is weighted down by the burdens of others I’ve yet to meet, gives me all the assurance I need that this is His very plan for me, that I go and speak of His love all over. If I made my own plans rather than following the ones God has laid before me, who knows where I would be. Thankfully, God’s plans never seem to be affected much by my own. Safety is a touchy subject for me. Of all the things I wish people grasped, it’s that safety is never guaranteed anywhere, whether you’re in your backyard or the slums of India. Just because one place is riskier than another, the people inhabiting them all share the same needs. Each individual needs Jesus just as much as the next person, and as Romans 10:15 says, “Who will go unless they are sent?” He is sending me, please know that. Shots can ring out, doors can be knocked down, but my God will stay the same. If I were to die sharing the Gospel, I’d thank the Lord that of all the ways I could go, He blessed me with the opportunity to go serving.
No, a little dust here and there isn’t what makes my life messy. People near and dear, who I want to understand the pulling at my heart before anyone else, don’t. Satan crowding out God’s voice, growing statistics, distant lands only being pictures in my mind, not stamps on my passport. These things make my life messy, these things are what remind me that I too, am needy. By the grace of God, I’m not needy for things of this world anymore, but rather I’m needy for change in this world. I need people to understand that God isn’t ushering me into this life of discipleship only to leave me hanging. My heart has been shaped by God in a mold foreign to most. My “average” life isn’t all that average after all, but that’s the kind of change Jesus brings.
“The pain you feel in your heart over the desires God has put in you, (them being yet unfulfilled) is your gift from Him, because it causes you to wrestle with Him for the fulfillment of those desires.” – Corey Russel
I leave for Africa in 66 days, and I’m still in need of $750. If you’d like to partner with me by donating, you can donate at http://www.globalexpeditions.com/donate using my ID 2700920. I need prayer just as much as I need the funds, please consider praying for me over the next couple months as God prepares my heart. Let me know if you choose to do either, I’d like to keep you updated on things through pictures and mail. Thank you!
“The laptop you’re reading this on contains coltan which was likely dug from the earth by a child slave held at gun point in Congo. Your cell phone has the same story. The coffee you drink, the chocolate you eat, probably the shirt that you’re wearing are all covered in the blood of another. Someone else has died so that you can enjoy your wealth.” -Amy Lou
My eyes have recently been widened to child slavery and the price these people pay to see another sunrise. I’m convinced that if stories could make your ears bleed, the stories these precious children have to tell would be the ones to do it.
So easily I forget the freedom that lies right in front of me. So easily I fight to unlock the shackles I bear, overlooking the key that Jesus has freely given to me. I say “freely”, but that freedom was bought at such a high price. I forget that the water He gives quenches every thirst. I forget that His ear is bent to hear me. My faith shakes, and my heart breaks, and every day, from dawn to dusk, my God stands faithful and waiting. On the bright side of brokenness, lies Jesus.
I wish I could say my Bible was worn at the seams. I wish I could say I don’t continuously hit the snooze button, making excuses to sleep through my morning quiet time with the Lord. My head doesn’t bow in prayer as often as it should, and my hands hang at my sides while they should be lifted in praise. I let myself get swallowed up by the world, kind of like Jonah getting swallowed by the whale, only on much drier terms.
Most days my heart cries for order.
Recently I found myself stuck in a rut. A deep rut, similar to a pot hole after an ice storm. I got lost in the comparison game, only to come out as the loser. Days were long, and nights longer. The pot hole became a sink hole. As I spent a couple days restlessly battling the chaos within me, I gave in and handed my greed over to God. I said, “Father, I’m exhausted. I’m selfish and jealous for so many things.” And I was. I had a calloused heart for a good week, trying to make jealousy a prettier trait than it is. Despite my efforts, there just wasn’t any justifying my feelings. I ran to Jesus, and called His Name. I remembered the freedom in front of me. I remembered that chains are broken and shackles fall to our feet when we call upon our gentle Father. With these realizations, God plucked me out of the rut, and paved over the pot hole. With closed eyes and folded hands, I called on Him, only minutes before How He Loves came on my Pandora station. The first line, “He is jealous for me,” echoed in my ears, resonating with a new meaning. I had heard this song before, too many times to count, but this time I heard Jesus, not David Crowder. “I am jealous for you,” He whispered, “I long for you.” Oh, amazing grace, how sweet the sound.
He is jealous for me. The Maker of everything in sight, the One who hung the stars and carved the mountains, is jealous for me. I am cherished and I am pursued by a Love that outdoes all the rest. I am enveloped in His grace, sealed tight like a love letter sent to free a debtor. I imagine God peeling and sticking a stamp to the corner of a grace-filled envelope, before putting the flag up on the mailbox. Heaven’s mailroom must be filled to the brim with envelopes of the same sort. Although I’d like to picture it that way, grace is stamped with Christ’s blood, something far more precious.
Surely We Can Change
And the problem is this
We were bought with a kiss
But the cheek still turned
Even when it wasn’t hit
And I don’t know
What to do with a love like that
And I don’t know
How to be a love like that
When all the love in the world
Is right here among us
And hatred too
And so we must choose
What our hands will do
Where there is pain
Let there be grace
Where there is suffering
For those afraid
Help them be brave
Where there is misery
And surely we can change
Surely we can change
And the problem it seems
Is with you and me
Not the Love who came
To repair everything
Where there is pain
Let us bring grace
Where there is suffering
For those afraid
Let us be brave
Where there is misery
Let us bring them relief
And surely we can change
Surely we can change
Oh surely we can change
Oh, the world’s about to change
The whole world’s about to change
– David Crowder Band
My heart is declaring this in Jesus’ Name, the world is about to change. “Where there is pain, let us bring grace. Where there is suffering, bring serenity. For those afraid, let us be brave. Where there is misery, let us bring them relief, and surely we can change. Surely we can change, oh surely we can change something.”
With 113 days left until I embark on my mission trip to South Africa, I’m here to update you on all the delights that consume my day. In the midst of every due date and lost paper, I’m still finding myself lost in God’s peace and patient heart. This journey has been documented in such beautiful words and pleasing-to-the-ear phrases, but I assure you, I’ve spent many nights awake in the wee hours of the morning, in hopes of gaining back composure lost. I’m reminded, what feels like too often, that there’s money to raise, shots to get, papers to fill out, people to call, and flights to book. Mail gets lost and calls go unanswered, while deadlines come far quicker than I can mark another X on the calendar. Papers don’t print and my To-Do list seems to grow faster than my list of things accomplished.
Today, I’m thankful and my heart is swelling up with a new kind of gratitude. I’m thankful for those lost papers and flights to book. I’m thankful for the dwindling calendar and a printer that won’t do it’s job when I need it to most. The lost papers can be replaced, the flights to book only mean I’m one step closer to my precious, coffee colored friends in Africa, whom I find myself longing for every hour of the day. The things that throw a wrench in my day the most only remind me that we have a God whose yoke is easy and whose burden is light. Philippians 4:6 is God telling me, “My child, do not be anxious about anything, present to Me your troubles.” Yet I still find myself coming up with an excuse as to how something won’t get done, or how a required task will go unnoticed until it’s too late. And then my ever faithful Father steps in once again, and speaks truth into the doubt-filled void I’ve tried to fight with my own strength too many times to count. 2 Corinthians 12:9, “But the Lord said, ‘My grace is all you need. Only when you are weak can everything be done completely by My power.‘ So I will gladly boast about my weaknesses. Then Christ’s power can stay in me.” My heart sings that last line, “So I will gladly boast about my weaknesses. Then Christ’s power can stay in me.” Yes Lord, be my strength.
My heart feels a new kind of anguish as I lay in bed every single night. I mean my heart literally aches as I sit knee-deep in books on poverty-stricken people that the world has deemed unworthy. I look into my overcrowded refrigerator and my stomach churns as I think of physically starving African children 8,000 miles out of my reach. I’ve grown to recognize that maybe, just maybe, I need those desperate people more than they need me. My knees find their place on the floor at my bed-side, and restless I pray. I pray for Geetha, a 19 year old Dalit, who lives on the streets of India with memories of abuse and the sex industry she was once sold into. So hard, I pray. I lift up the many little boys in northern Africa who are taught to kill or who face death themselves. This is the kind of hurt that feels good. This is the kind of hurt that reminds me Jesus resides in my heart, and that the anguish He allows me to feel is being used to fuel the fire He has set inside me. The fire is raging, raging in such a life-altering way that while I pray for rest from this pain, I crave more. I crave more fuel on the fire, I crave more compelling statistics, I crave more Jesus. I’m thankful that rest has been given to me through Psalm 68:5, “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.” How restoring it is that my prayers do work in the place of where my physical presence cannot be because of God’s goodness.
Meanwhile, my heart finds so much joy in my freshly pressed passport and worn out TOMS. There’s an odd excitement in knowing that my passport will soon be filled with stamps from the countries God is sending me to. What are now my white-soled TOMS will return to the states red from the rich African soil, and old clothes will find new owners in the bare-skinned kiddos that God will find fit to bless me with. My Bible will come back home with me with heavily marked up pages to prove the great Source of my renewed soul. And I sure can’t wait.
And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” Romans 10:15