THE INITIAL CALL:
When I was 18 years old I sat in my high school Algebra II class, I had just finished handing in my last math final of my high school career. As I sat down I felt the joy of the new season of life that was awaiting me. I felt the liberation of graduating not just from high school but also into “adulthood”. I sat down with a smile on my face and said in my heart “Lord, what shall we do next?” It was that moment that I felt within me the “call” or better yet the invitation to be a “laborer for Christ” predominately in an overseas context. At 18, I had many different ideas of what that actually meant. I remembered other “laborers” that would come and visit my church and share about their experiences – all I felt I received from them was that it was hard, uncomfortable and they themselves seemed a little odd to me. So when I felt the invitation to be a laborer myself, I was a little afraid. I didn’t want to live in a hut in the jungle and have to learn a new language and be lonely the rest of my life. How depressing.
While searching for the perfect front door into missions I came across an international organization and that ran a training course specializing in discipling and training laborers for the field. I read the curriculum, saw that there was an outreach phase and it sounded fascinating AND it was only 6 months. It was kind of perfect. I could go, do my hardcore cross cultural laboring stent, come home, go to college, get married, have children and grow old and die in Columbus, GA. It sounded like a dream and seemed to come into alignment with my current level of commitment to this “laborer for Christ” thing.
So, at 18 years old I hopped on a plane by myself, much to my mothers horror (I am the baby, and I really lived up to that title), flew the most outrageous route you could imagine to Australia and arrived a terrified and dehydrated little girl who called her mommy crying almost every day, possibly twice a day some days, for the first 2 weeks of the course.
When it came time to pick our outreach locations, I chose the most western one possible. I thought, “The Australian youth need to know Jesus too”. Which is a true statement, they do, but that’s not why I chose Australia. I chose Australia because I was afraid to go anywhere else.
My experience on my training course could take up an entire blog, seriously. But let’s just say that I was forever “ruined for the ordinary”. I finished that 6 months a very, very different person. The Lord gently and patiently lead my immature heart. Even in the midst of my discomfort and my obvious love for the things of this world that trumped my love for Him, He faithfully took my heart on the journey of maturity and in His perfect timing turned the corner to a deeper level of abandonment to Him. That 6 months turned into almost 5 years serving as a laborer in Australia.
THE JOURNEY CONTINUES:
At the end of my 5 year stent in Australia I felt the Lord gently guiding me to move on, that my season was finished and that there was a new chapter that I was about to enter. So, I packed my bags, said good bye to my friends who were like family to me and this incredible ministry that I loved dearly. I flew home not having a clue what was next but feeling the safety and peace of resting in His leadership. It felt good.
I got home thinking that perhaps I would have a season in the states. I wanted that. I wanted to be near my family. I wanted to be in a familiar place that was comfortable. But, the Lord had different plans and more clearly than I had ever heard Him lead me before, He took me all the way back to the Southern Hemisphere 4 months later to the neighboring nation of Australia, New Zealand.
I was going to be involved with the establishment of a House of Prayer in a city called Tauranga. I was a part of a 6 month internship and again, I thought I would do my quick 6 month stent and be on my merry way. However, I met my husband, got married and that 6 months turned into 6 years. I now have 2 children and have been a part of this incredible community and have once again, been “transformed from one degree of glory to another”. My husband and I had so deeply commited ourselves to the work of the Lord here that we felt we would grow old here and see our children grow up here. We were applying for permanent residency here, we planned to be here for a very long time to come. We are a part of the leadership team at the House of Prayer and we absolutely love this ministry, these people, this place. It is so good it’s almost a dream.
BUT WAIT…THERE’S MORE:
In journeying with the Lord these past 11 years I have began to understand something. While “calling” is important and while the Lord really does call people to nations and people groups and puts an affection for these places and peoples in one’s heart – that’s not the p0int. It’s good, it’s important and it’s significant – but it’s not the point. Ultimately, He cares about my heart. He cares about what my heart loves the most. He knew that I had a love for comfort, safety, security and in His kindness and perfect leadership He gently lead me through a journey that would enable me to die to those things in a worldly sense and begin to embrace comfort, safety and security in Christ. I have had to continually say goodbye to things that I loved dearly and in many ways had begun to feel I had some sort of right to keep for the rest of my days. But He is so jealous for my heart. He doesn’t want to share my affections with another. He has brought me through circumstance after circumstance inviting me to surrender just a little bit more and fall into His grace and His embrace just a little bit more.
As we approach the beginning of our 7th year here in New Zealand, we have found ourselves, yet again, letting go of that which we love here on earth to embrace a love that is greater and far more deserving. The Lord has invited us to a deeper level of surrender and has invited us to sell our belongings, pack up what little we have left and take our family across the oceans to a foreign land speaking a foreign language to minister to a foreign people. It will be hard to say goodbye to New Zealand and this community that has become our family. But, there is something so alluring, so attractive, so liberating about letting go again and falling into His embrace and following our Shepherd wherever He leads. Above all, I want nothing more than to love Him with my whole heart. And whatever is required of me to do that, I don’t want to shriek back in fear, intimidation, discomfort or frustration in thinking that I have a right to anything in this life. I want to uninhibitedly give myself to Him and His leadings, that I might love Him with all that I have. So that at the end, when I see Him face to face, His declaration over me will be “This one has loved me well.”
I have decided to log some of the journey of my heart here in this blog. It won’t be consistently updated because I’m not necessarily doing it as a “dedicated blogger”. But it’s a journal so to speak, that I am making available to others that perhaps may be encouraging to a few who are also journeying with the Lord and this radical call of taking up our cross and following Him. It will be raw, with lots, I repeat LOTS of grammar and spelling errors. So if you’ve managed to find me or have just fallen upon this site, welcome to my journey, glad to have you. I pray that the Lord meets you here.