“Though You slay me
Yet I will praise You
Though You take from me
I will bless Your name
Though You ruin me
Still I will worship
Sing a song to the one who's all I need.”
-Though you Slay Me,
Shane and Shane
Recently I ran across this song about losing it all and still choosing to praise the Lord. It got me thinking…when I’m at my most broken what is my response?
Do I scream out in anger? Yell at God for another sleepless night, haunted by dreams I can’t control? Try to mask the pain, with more pain?
If God loves me, if I am His, then how could He let me hurt like this? How can He watch my heart break into a thousand different pieces…questioning the wisdom in every decision I’ve ever made leading up to this day… and not rescue me?
Well, I don’t know how perfect you are but I scream loudly, usually not polite things at the One who gave me breath. I’m not sure I’ve always been this way, but I am right now…
What brings you to the valley? Is it looking around at whatever age you are now and realizing life isn’t how you thought it would be, a lost loved one, a broken relationship, an illness that can’t be cured?
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
That verse is nice, but I immediately think… if He REALLY loved me… He would fix this.
You’ve thought it too, I know you have. That the Almighty should just “fix it.” It’s the selfishness engrained in us that we should never feel pain. What an ignorant thought, that this life is designed around our happiness. That’s a manmade concept…that’s why it so often fails, and shifts, and doesn’t meet our expectations.
I hate the fire and refinement just as much as the next person, but it is surely inevitable, and I would be lying if I told you I handled it with grace especially when it was my own sin that led me here.
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,
for those who are called according to his purpose.”
Paul and Silas sang hymns to God locked in a prison cell for crimes they didn’t commit. God allowed Job to be stripped of everything he loved in this word, and the man still refused to denounce his Creator. John the Baptist was a martyr for the faith before even being able to see Christ’s full ministry, yet he never once gave up his mission.
Jesus, was bruised, beaten, spit on, and crucified…but he never ran from the call the Father had on his life. And thank God he didn’t.
And these people weren’t even suffering because they had done something wrong, or made a bad choice, they were walking through the valley simply because they were following in faith.
Yet, here I am, a woman who has had minor struggles, comparatively, mostly caused by my own inability to obey, and I still can’t hold back tears of anger towards Him when I’m hurting. I desperately want to be the type of woman who sings songs of praise when her life is crumbling apart.
But I’m not, yet.
There’s a beauty to being in the depths of despair. You’re faced with the chance to make a choice.
You can bottle up this pain, put it on a shelf with all of your childhood bullies, broken relationships, deep insecurities, and fears of the future. Close the cellar door and pretend you’re doing just fine. Fill those holes of hurt with hobbies, new friends, addictions, pets, and fitness routines…
You can lay there broken, feeling abandoned, desperate for healing, humiliated, and wait….You wait for God to help you. You just throw your arms up to the ceiling, turn the music up loud, beg for something real, raw, painfully honest and you just lay it down.
Over, and over and over again. Day after day after day. You just tell Him… and you believe that He will move.
The first option, will feel like you’re fixed. It will feel like you’re better. Everyone around you will applaud you on how sane you seem, and how well you’re doing. But I promise you’re not. And when life knocks you down again, a month, a year, 10 years down the road… you will crumble again. And your heartbreak will rattle those bottles you’ve left stored in the cellar of your soul.
The second option, it doesn’t come natural. I don’t care if you’ve been saved since you were six, or just met Jesus yesterday… giving up control never comes easy for a species that so desperately craves it. You will feel like everyone is watching you, pointing at the girl crying as she drives to work.
You’re friends will send you bible verses and ask if you’re okay in 24 hour intervals, because on the outside you just look so unstable. But darling, God’s doing something inside you. In the darkest parts of your heart that you thought you could hide from Him. He’s there and he’s going to rebuild.
If you trust Him, He will be faithful. I can’t promise when, or how, but I know that He will. I know, because in the middle of one of the saddest times in my very young life I can hear him.
I hear His voice even as the devil whispers to me lies that keep me Sad. Stagnant. Sinful.
“The Lord will fight for you, you need only be still.”
One day my sorrow will be singing. My anger will be forgiveness. My pain will be strength. I just want to be ready for the next valley. More ready than I was for this one.
And I'll use you as a warning sign,
That if you talk enough sense, then you'll lose your mind.
And I'll use you as focal point, So I don’t lose sight of what I want
It's madness out there in the real world, I'm telling you.
Pure and utter chaos. It's like most of us are just running around like chickens with our heads cut off trying to figure out what in the world we're doing.
"Who will I be today?"
And in the midst of all this searching, somewhere along the road we stop feeling. Let's be honest, life is hard and things can really hurt. So you become numb to the real stuff, it's a defense mechanism for me.
Desensitized. I tried to make my heart incapable of breaking...which if you're curious is impossible.
But no matter how much I try to be impenetratable it doesn't stop the truama of life from obliterating any sense of order I've given myself in this mess we've created. And when that trauma hits, boy, you won't be able to handle an ounce of the feeling that it brings.
So you'll probably do like me and stuff all those things back in that deep dark corner of your soul and just "deal with it later."
You'll fill time and space with things, and people, drinks and netflix. The less it matters, the more you want it.
But you can't keep the feelings at bay forever, they're part of this thing we call life. And they'll always creep back in. Whether it's a sad advertisement, a kind gesture from someone, a song that brings back a memory sending chills shooting up your spine. Once that door is open they all rush back in and hit you like a ton of bricks.
They're wired into us like the DNA that defines us and they're begging to get out even if that means ripping open your heart in the process.
So, I scream all the time. Sometimes it's loud, sometimes it's covered by a pillow, sometimes it's in my head and sometimes it's one of those scary whisper angry screams like Rose in Titanic as her lover sinks to the bottom of the ocean....
Some people think I'm screaming because I'm mad, but It's not always anger that fuels my high pitched vocals. Sometimes it's utter joy, other days it's overwhelming sadness...and I think it means that in the moment I'm really feeling, and really feeling means you're really living.
You see, any display of emotion means you're actually feeling something and in this plastic, filtered, permi-fried world of insensitivity, to feel.... leads to the ultimate goal. When's the last time you felt so affected by some kind of injustice that you actually did something about it? And no, reposting a photo on Facebook isn't actually doing something. But, you were moved. Something inside you woke up and you felt that stiring in the pit of your stomach to live.
It's terrifying...to feel things. Because what if they hurt? Or worse, what if they're amazing and then one day....they're gone.
The hardest part is to let go and let the tears flow. Allow the laughter to abound. Give way to the mourning. Rejoice in the sorrow.
Because my God, you're actually feeling. You're living and breathing and you're heart is still beating strong enough to bend and break and let you live.
So just live. Give it all you have and stop faking it. Stop putting on the mask and walking out the door. Look in the mirror and take it all in and just let yourself live, in every single moment.
Find out who you want to be, and be it. Let your feelings move you, change you, urge you to truth.
We are but a breath, we are but a fleeting instant, so do not waste a second hiding from it all. Open your arms and embrace what comes.
Love without regret, give without request, and forgive until you mean it...
Because, life is worth it and it's too short not to figure that out now.
It's been really hard to get out of bed lately.
Have you ever been there? It's this place where you'd like to sleep for a while, just long enough for this season of sadness to pass and then when you wake up...you're just...okay. And then maybe a little while after that you'll be more than okay, but honestly anything would feel better than what if feels like...
right. this. moment.
I think its called depression, but who needs labels. There's different levels and it's not one size fits all, but I will say it seems to just creep up on you. Once you're low....digging out of the hole seems harder and harder.
You've got plenty of things going on, activities to consume your time with, and friends to tell you you're awesome, even though you know they wish you could snap out of it. Therapy helps, if only to remind you that you're not crazy. You might even try essential oils before popping pills to lift your spirits. You've never been here before so how do you know what will work best?
But you do know, you have to get out of bed, and that's the hardest part.
It's when you wake up and all you can think about is that one thing you're dying to stop thinking about, but you're stuck. Like a record that skips on the same verse, over and over and over.
The replays. The reminders. The what ifs.
You tell yourself, five more minutes. I'll just lay here for five more minutes. Give myself a pep talk, and off I'll go. But five turns into 10 which turns into four hours and two documentaries on The World's Most Dangerous Animals you found on Netflix.
Another day slips past you and it's almost as if your dream of sleeping it all away is working. Even though you know it's not because you're not actually getting better laying in that bed, you're just sitting in the sadness, marinating in your bitterness that things aren't different.
THIS IS NOT HOW IT IS SUPPOSED TO BE, you scream in your head.
The best part of all of this is that you NEVER thought you'd be here.
Not you, you're strong.
And right now you're just... surviving.
Have you ever been here? Do you know what I'm talking about? Isn't it just the worst?
Yesterday I googled inspirational quotes for hours for a "pick me up."
"It's not about being the best, it's about being better than you were yesterday."
"Although no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending."
"Experience; that most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God do you learn."
Then I re-read every passage of scripture I've ever found strength from looking for that same breath of fresh air I got the first time I mulled over the words.
"Whom have I in heaven but you, and there is none on earth I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but you are the strength of my heart and my portion forever." Psalm 73
"Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest." Matt. 11:28
It helped, don't get me wrong, but I still can't snap my fingers and make it stop hurting. Trust me, I've tried. Mind over matter, they say. Well my mind is my worst enemy so good luck.
It's in these moments that you come face to face with the raw reality of who you are and how you got here and my God does that hurt. Because if you're honest you probably slap a metaphorical filter on yourself every day of your life until you can't anymore, and you just have to deal with your own poorly lit reflection.
Silver lining, I'm sure there is one. I'm sure it gets better and at least most of the wounds heal. It all works out one way or another and I have to believe the end result is what is best for the soul. Hopefully the scars are pretty and it doesn't take too long for the pain to be a memory, but until then....
Wake up. Roll off the covers and put your feet on the floor. Take a deep breath, because it's going to be hard. Just get out of bed.
I want to share with you a few images that hold the memories from my time here in South Africa. I leave in two days and goodbyes are not my thing.
"Do not be afraid or discouraged,
for the Lord will personally go ahead of you.
He will be with you.
He will neither fail nor abandon you."
“While you are serving the Lord, you are in a posture
to hear from Him most clearly and be tempted
by Satan the most intensely.”
My friend spoke this truth to me a few days ago. Her words have resonated with me and have been echoed in the scriptures I have read.
“When I want to do what is good, evil is with me.
For in my inner self I joyfully agree with God’s law.
But I see a different law in the parts of my body. “
At some point the excitement of a new adventure wears off and it just becomes real and raw. Anyone can “play Christian” if even for a little while. It is in these moments you decide where your focus will be. If you take your eyes off of Him you are most certain to feel exposed, vulnerable and breathless.
When you feel too comfortable, like you’ve got a handle on things, your guard is down and all kinds of crazy can get in. The neglect of your primary relationship with the Father causes you to forget why you are here, what you have learned, and where your hope should lie. You start to go through the motions of life again and things just become….alright. In biblical terms you start to live in the flesh and not the spirit, and we all know that road is a one-way path to death. It is never a leap in the opposite direction; it is always one step at a time.
Searching for some type of normalcy, something that seems to make sense, but everywhere you look there is no sign of familiarity. There is this chaos inside of you that you can’t quite get a handle on. You fill your time with empty things, stress and worry, because it would simply be too hard to sit down and pray; to reconfigure your mission and deal with the environment. You refuse to see how far away from Him you’ve gotten because you still think you have it all under control. You’ve played this game before but for some reason can’t remember why this course of action never works out well.
This is me. This is my reaction to the rawness of life, a life that may not always head in the direction I pictured. In and of myself it is not natural that I run to the Lord when I get scared, or I am unsure. I run away from Him for some ridiculous reason. It is my way of taking control of my own life. A tug of war if you will with the great I AM.
I justify my wandering because I’m still going to church. I pretend that doing ministry is going to suffice for ignoring intimacy with the Father. I “run out of time” to sit down and talk to Him. I assume I’ve prayed enough about a situation and I stop asking Him for guidance. I mean, I can handle this after all, right? I allow the distractions of life, not all of which are bad, to become my reason for living. I worship the created, and not the creator.
“For I do not do the good that I want to do, but I practice
the evil that I do not want to do. Now if I do what I do not
want, I am no longer the one doing it,
but it is the sin that lives in me.”
I wish that 23-year-old Sarah could talk to 15-year-old Sarah about the disciplines she should be practicing in her young years, so that she would be prepared for the enemy’s attacks.
Today I’m feeling honest. Life is hard, no matter where you are. It is hard serving the Lord; it is hard running away from Him. It was never intended to be a picnic. I mean our Savior was crucified on a cross, why do we think this is supposed to be easy? I may be the only person in the world who falls prey to this arrogance. I may be the only one who feels the chaos in her heart, or the only one who runs away even when I know where help lies. However, I don’t for a second believe that is true, I know that my God would still fight for me, even if I was the only one.
Because somewhere in the midst of the chaos you can hear Him calling again. Your minor melt down is interrupted by a whisper in prayer, a worship song, a stern scolding from a friend, or a random bible verse that popped up on your phone. Sometimes it takes days to hear Him calling, or even months, and yes it could even take years. But you hit a wall and realize that you’ve taken a very unnecessary detour back to His throne room.
For me, all of these things have happened at some point in my life. Luckily lately it hasn’t taken Him long to get my attention. I have been reminded who I am, and whose I am. I know where my peace must lie; because His arms are the only place I have ever found it. I know that, because I’ve experienced it.
The truth of the matter is, if you are His than He desires for you to rest in Him. He has designed us that way. We can’t fight our demons on our own, whether they seem small or large. Only His Spirit can do that. We must place our hope in Him and a will that we don’t understand.
“Now in this hope we were saved, yet hope that is seen is not hope,
because who hopes for what he sees.”
We must remind ourselves and each other who we are. We are redeemed. We may slip, we may fall, but we will never lose our citizenship with Christ. We are co-heirs with the Darling of Heaven and have been promised the love of the Father until time stops.
“For I am persuaded that not even death or life,
angels or rulers, things present or things to come,
hostile powers, height or depth, or any other created thing,
will have the power to separate us
from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Africa wins again. These are words I have uttered numerous times over the last few weeks. South Africa provides the modern conveniences that I am accustomed to in the States, with a shadow lurking nearby of new cultures and different people groups. Every time I step out the door and into someone else’s world I am met with a different perspective and outlook even when the faces look similar. It is a strange place to live.
My work is different than a lot of people that are living overseas with the same goal as my team. I help develop stories and videos that will be used to inform those around the world about what is going on in the lives of the people in Africa. Our work is tedious but the reward is great.
The Father is breaking my heart for lostness further than I thought possible. Through the videos that I piece together, I have seen the faces of the lost. I have watched them clean their homes, wash their clothes, carry their babies, laugh, smile, weep, and pray to their gods. Often times as I watch these clips and I long to be in those places. I want to have dinner with those ladies, listen to the stories of the elders and play games in the dirt with the children. I desperately want to provide a hug where one is needed, and a listening ear to the stories of pain this world can bring. There is a longing to reach them and love them, and to share with them the hope that I have.
But I’m not physically reaching those people. I’m not in the remote parts of West Africa traveling from one village to another with the Word. I’m not in the regions of Tanzania hiking up to where none have been able to reach and investing. No, I’m in Johannesburg, South Africa, a country much like my own. Working a job much like one I would have in America. I am here, and some weeks that makes no sense to me. And then there are weeks that it does.
Outside of the daily nine to five, I am involved in various opportunities around the city of Joburg. I have been lucky enough to be involved in a class that teaches a group of women English downtown. On Wednesday nights some of our friends spend the evening going around town with an organization to deliver food to people on the streets.
Recently I have become involved in an after school program for kids who just need a little extra attention in their lives. I have found a wonderful church here that I have started to get plugged into. There have been incredible blessings of friendship through these avenues and even more opportunities on the horizon.
I have known several things about myself that have been amplified in my travels. My heart is for the lost to know the love of Christ. I want to love people unabandoned. I want to invest and leave an impact, not out of my own efforts, but through Him who dwells within me. I want to see those remote villages reached, and if one day the Lord leads me to be the one to make the hike, I will do so gladly.
I am however realizing that in my great efforts to remember those who seem to have been forgotten, I am forgetting those who I should have always remembered.
I see the little girl who lives next door to me on a daily basis. She plays near my yard, shares her stories with me, and invites me into her life. Am I praying for her like I pray for the face of the child in the village? I hand bread and soup to my new friend who is making his bed on the street tonight, have I lifted his name up to the Lord as I pray for the nations? I Skype, and text, and Facebook chat with those I love at home, am I begging the Father to reveal himself to them daily?
You see I have made the mistake that so many of us do so easily. I have been praying for “Samaria” while Jerusalem sits ready for harvest outside my front door. My prayers reach my God and He hears my cries for the lost, but my hands can reach my neighbors and yet I find them busy with other things.
Who of you can relate? Who has neglected their Jerusalem? Furthermore who is being called to a new Jerusalem? Surely I am not the only one.
It took me moving quite far away to realize that missions were right outside my front door. It was checking me out in the Wal-Mart line, cutting my hair at the local salon, and entering my Sunday school class every Sunday morning. I was not called overseas because there was no need at home. I was called here because I was simply willing to go. God wanted me here, but where does He want you?
I challenge you to be willing to go. Whether you go next door or you go 2000 miles away from all you know. You find your Jerusalem and you invest until your days are exhausted and you are begging for sleep. You serve until you have nothing left and Christ is the only strength that makes sense. You go. There is no question.
So Africa wins again. Not because we have tons of ants in our flat, and the internet is kind of unreliable, and our water only stays hot for 6 ½ minutes, but because it is winning my heart every day.
Everyday I love these people that the Lord has brought me to more and more. Everyday I am looking for another way to use my hands and not just my prayers. I long to go to bed exhausted and filled with the Spirit because that is the best way to end these very short days of life. South Africa has become my Jerusalem and I am so grateful for this journey.
Accepting an assignment like the one I am currently participating in is like asking the Father to stand you in front of a mirror for several months, discuss your pros and cons, and refuse to allow you to walk away from that mirror until you acknowledge them yourself. I'm 2 weeks in on a 4 ½ month journey and I’m ready to break the stupid mirror. Lord have mercy.
I stand by my belief that most people are not stupid. I honestly believe that the general population is fairly aware of themselves and those around us. We know our true intentions for acts of kindness. We aren’t dumb people, but we do love to play dumb, don’t we? We like to pretend to be ignorant about what is going on because somewhere inside of us we know if we were to acknowledge the problem we would have to actually feel uncomfortable and deal with it. oh the sins of apathy how they constantly persuade us. This life is all about seeking comfort for many, so ambiguity is an easy out.
We play this game with friends, family, coworkers, that person who you avoided eye contact with on the street. We even play this game with God. We pretend we don’t really know what He is telling us, or doing in our lives, because we know it is going to make us uncomfortable to obey.
I didn't like the idea of sacrificing comfort and what I wanted in order to move a very long way from home to be obedient. Don't get me wrong it sounded fun, but The adventure only lasts for so long. at which point the unfamiliar becomes home and you kin of freak out. It felt weird having to start over and make completely new friends. I was super nervous about living with someone I had never met before in a country I knew nothing about. All of these things I have faced in the last few weeks. And to think I almost missed out because I wouldn’t stop playing games.
You see, it was almost like Hide and Seek. God was counting and I was hiding. He would pretend He couldn’t find me, like you do with a young child, until the very last moment and then BOO. My secret spot had been compromised and I was tagged it. He and I played this game for many years. Sometimes I thought I could hide so well that maybe, just maybe, He wouldn’t find me. Or better yet, He would get so fed up with calling my name that He would just leave me be and let me keep my comfortable little hiding spot for the rest of my life in my "I don't deal with things" world.
Unfortunately, my God does not really play my games. He may humor me and let me run around like a fool, but eventually He sits me down and explains the rules yet again. So you can imagine how I feel now, after only a short time out of my hiding place, to be set in front of this holy mirror for Him to begin the painful process of refinement.
The Father has brought so many things to my attention in a very short amount of time. He has begun to carve out deep holes in my heart where bitterness, anger, jealousy, envy, lust, pride, and selfishness lie. I don’t like admitting that those are apart of me. I mean, seriously, if this is already happening on week 3 I’m a little nervous to see the rest as time goes.
Now when The Father gets a hold of you and decides that you will now be a vessel for Him, He begins to bring those characteristics to the surface so that you can deal with them. So gone is the idea of ambiguity or ignorance, there is no room for that in The Lords plan.
I wish I could say ignorance is bliss, and maybe for someone it may be. But at this time in my life ignorance is detrimental. On the field your faults are amplified and if you refuse to acknowledge them you’re not only hurting yourself but your team and those that are put in your path.
I don’t know that I had any great wise motivation or advice for writing the post except to admit that I’m dealing with lots of things. I’m learning more about myself than I may have wanted to know, and hearing the hard stuff is a challenge. My honest desires are being challenged daily. And as He builds me up I'm also torn down so that I may exemplify him in my actions. The mirror is big and glaring me in the face. I’m sure we all have our own mirrors in life; the question is will you be bold enough to take a gander at what is looking back at you and let the Lord perfect it?
It’s funny how two weeks can feel like two months and at the same time seem like only a few hours. That is how long I’ve been in Africa. From one country to another I have finally made it to my new home, Johannesburg, South Africa.
As the plane landed and some strangers with American faces greeted us, they took us to our flat (that’s an apartment in U.S. terms). They were kind enough to give my new roommate and I an hour or two to get settled. My mother has instilled in me a habit of being OCD, so naturally I unpacked everything I owned to avoid living out of a suitcase another day. Our new home is lovely. It is a quaint little place that provides a cozy escape from the outside world. Many others have come in and out of here along the years with the same goals as we have. It almost feels historical.
I got settled into my room by putting everything away; hanging pictures on the wall, and placing personal touches that almost make it feel like home. I have a collage of photos of people that I love to remind me where I have come from. I have a shawl draped across my bed that I bought in the Philippines, to remind me of the place that stirred my desire to travel to the nations again. I have an empty journal ready to be filled with the wonderful stories of what is to come on this new adventure.
I’m not sure yet if it has hit me that I’m here. I keep telling my team to ask me again in about a month or so. This is Africa, and this is my home. I can honestly tell you these are words I never thought I would say out loud. Africa was never on my radar. I can’t help but think that the Father knows better than I do when He redirected my path, many times, to put me here.
I won’t bore you with the miniscule details of what the first two weeks have looked like. It has been a lot of meeting new people that will hopefully be trusted friends, eating strange new foods, planes, worship, and saying goodbye and good luck to friends traveling to other places on the continent. My roommate Ashley and I are finally starting to get an idea of what life here is going to look like and we couldn’t be more excited.
As I’m settling into a new place, the Father has already begun to teach me. I began a study in a book called Hosea. It is about a man who is commanded by his Creator to marry a prostitute named Gomer. Even after Hosea marries this woman, and loves her, she still tries to leave him many times over.
In the 2nd chapter of this book it explains why Gomer continues to leave Hosea. She finds some sort of comfort and fulfillment in these other lovers. She claims that they provide her with “food and water, wool and flax, and her oil and drink.” She has a very difficult time in this lifestyle, because she is going against the Father and her commitment to Hosea as a wife.
You might have read this story and understood the comparison that is made between the adulterous woman and the tribe of Israel. Through all of their wanderings, worship of idols, and disregard for the God who brought them out of Egypt, the Lord does not abandon them. This is the same thing He commands Hosea not to do to his wayward wife.
So Hosea is obedient. He buys back this woman who continues to lust after men, money, food, and attention. He still seeks after her because he committed to love her out of obedience to God. To many of us this type of love does not make sense. We justify any desire Hosea might have had to leave, because her abandonment of their marriage made it all right for him to do the same. I mean most of us think he would be better of anyway, right?
I’m not married, and may never be, so at first I wasn’t sure what I was to be taught from this. But then I remembered Israel, the metaphors main character. I remembered the Fathers grace on a people that deserted Him time and time again. I remembered that God, especially His Son, would have probably been better off if they had just walked away from the disaster that was humanity. This thought then progressed to the church and eventually I singled in on myself.
Has my God not committed to love me even more than Hosea could have ever loved Gomer? Has he not stayed consistent in my life even as wander after the passions of this world like they will satisfy my hunger for the intimacy I was designed to have with Him?
Over the past few days in the unfamiliar I have found myself scraping and searching for things that I can hold onto. Anything that seems to give me a measure of control or provide stability I have grasped for it. Not all of these things are bad, some of them could be very good, but it is within the intent that I have realized my problem lies. I have been searching for things to cling to out of fear of surrender.
I know where I receive my portion. I know who provides for my needs. I have been bought back. So why do I still find myself doing as Gomer does and chasing after futile things of this world when there is One who desires to provide everything I could ever need.
In this new place the struggle comes in finding contentment in God alone. As a matter of fact, in every place I’ve ever been that has been the struggle. We can wander in the desert for 40 years, or run away from our first love for useless lovers, or we can abide deeply in Him. It sounds like such an easy choice when spelled out before you, but we all know that surrender is easier said than done.
So what will your hearts desire be? Where will you search for your sustainability? Will it be in your selfish passions, or will it be within the One who gave you the ability to be passionate for Him? As soon as I figure out how to have that play out in my life, I’ll be sure to let you all know. We can walk the road together. The struggle is real my friends, but I believe that the reward shall be very great.
I have a month and a day before I leave for what could be one of the greatest adventures thus far in my young life. South Africa sounds like a dream even now as the plane ticket is bought and the money is being raised. I don't know that It has really hit me that I'm leaving.
I have always believed in my heart that my life was not meant to be lived in my hometown of Mississippi. There has always been a stiring in my soul for more. More adventure, more people, more traveling, more culture, love, time, experiences, and more of Him. Not everyone has the yearning to leave and start over some where else, but I do and to my family's dismay, I believe I will.
I have never felt worthy of the opportunities that the Father has put before me. For I have never been as pure in heart as His Son, or the humble John that came before him. I have never been as peaceful and patient as Mary surely was, to gain favor in His eyes. My story is a roller coaster of ups and downs. There are twists and turns that lead you to unexpected drops just when you think you've reached a plateau.
I have been studying the lives of some of those who were closest to The Son during His lifetime. These men and women are incredible followers that provide wisdom and insight to those of us who have come along after. These are stories of normal people who lived very ordinary lives, and even yearned to keep their ordinary, dreams as they aged. However the Father had a much different path for them. Thankfully when He called them to a story bigger than themselves, they were faithful to obey. Their obedience has not only revolutionized our relationship with Him today, but allowed for the one true Lamb to be born, sacraficed, and raised up so that our faith may not be in vain.
I wish that I could identify the most with Mary, Elizabeth, or the messenger John, whose faith, prayers, and persistence have radiated through stories over time, but I believe my habits of faith symbolize those of Joseph, Zachariah, or even James. I often think, like Joseph, that my plan will make a seemingly broken situation better. Even if I take my time to consider possibilities, it takes an act of Him to explain how short sighted I was. I also question my blessings like Zachariah did. I doubt and rethink things that have literally been placed in my lap. I have yet to be physically silenced for my unbelief, but if that day comes I won't be surprised. And sadly I can often relate to James. He had more access to knowledge of Him than the general population and it still took his own brother dying on a cross for him to realize that His words had been true.
One of my favorite of these people to study would be John. I wonder what it was like to know that he would lead the way for the one true Lamb to come. I wonder what he struggled with and how he overcame that. I wonder if his faith waivered while he sat in a jail cell alone, cold, and starving after doing into what he was called to do. I'm sure he had a hard time watching the friends he grew up with marry and begin families while he was alone in the desert learning. He was a man, a normal man, that had found incredible favor in the Father. How grateful we should be that he did not run from that blessing.
When I chose to follow, I accepted a life that I was not in control of. As the time comes for me to change my current location and begin an adventure like many have done before me, I am bombarded with many emotions. The months leading up to this have seemed to go on forever, making it challenging to be content in the present yet reaching for the future. Where the fire and passion once made this decision indestructible, now stirs fears, worry, doubts, rebellion, and questions. I will never understand how my soul and flesh can be at such a war. Why is it so easy to want to run away from the things I know will bring joy to my heart, and the greatest glory to Him? It's as if we think we can hide in the darkness away from Him to avoid the life we signed up for when it gets the slightest bit scary. Because if I'm honest I am scared. I'm scared to be in another country with people I don't know, away from things that are comfortable. I'm afraid of failing and not living up to some earthly expectations. It requires a great stretch of faith to be okay with placing yourself in an environment where you have no choice but to rely only on the Father, for everything. A faith that I am still trying to apply to my own heart.
Here is a spoiler alert. Just because someone is led down a path that may look exciting and seem to require a whole other level of holiness, they are the same broken sinners as anyone else. They are plagued by lies from the enemy just like anyone else, and they need to be rescued from death just like.....you guessed it.... Anyone else.
As my excitement grows my spirit has worn thin anticipating this change. And now I'm having to remind myself that I am here for a reason and not to waste time looking ahead. For time is precious and so quickly fleeting.
If you are a child of the King you have chosen a life that may not make sense. You may be confused at the path sometimes and want to change your direction out of fear. But look back at the stories and lives of these faithful men and women. From Mary to James, no matter where their steps came from, they all came to trust the One who would never tell them a lie.
Hold on tight to that truth and run the race marked specifically for you. For He may lead you to the jungles of the Philippines, the cities of Africa, the mountains of Nepal, or the suburbs of America. So be assured in the fact that He knows the hearts of His people, and He is always, always faithful.
Yes, you read that right, I finally recorded a cd.
Most if you know that I leave in August to go overseas and work as a video producer in South Africa for several months. I can't express to you how excited I am to use my skills and have a chance to share the love of the Father with others.This cd is my way of investing in the lives of those who are investing in me.
The music on this cd is a blend of praises and songs from my heart. By purchasing one you will be giving financially to this volunteer assignment that I feel called to. But not only will your money be of use, when you listen to these songs I hope that you would think of "the least of these." My desire is that you would be reminded of those who do not know the good news and all the men and women dedicated to taking it to those unreached places. I hope it would ignite you to play your part in His mission.
I do hope you enjoy the music and that it brings you as much joy to listen to as it did for me to write it.
$10.00 ($12.50 if mailed)
(I can deliver/mail physical copies of the cd, working on having available on iTunes )
Catch me around Madison between now and August.
(Accepts cash or check, as of right now)
Thank you all so much,