Archive for November, 2007

November 29, 2007

The only thing to fear…

I had one of those mom-daughter conversations today in which my perspective changed as a result of one little comment made by my mother. This isn’t the first time, of course, and parents are apt to do this without even realizing the effect they have on their children. A seemingly innocuous statement can often have profound implications for the future. And I have experienced this phenomenon before, in exactly this same way, with my mother. But today, it really did sneak up on me.

The conversation was quite casual and was not intending to be of any great consequence as other conversations have in the past, but Mom went on to tell me that she had spoken with my campus pastor on Sunday following our Romania reflections service and the conversation led to a comment about my desire to return there full-time. Mom related that she and my dad said, “We’ve always believed Jules would be a missionary of some kind. We’ve always sort of known this. She’s the strongest of our children.”

The strongest. I was surprised to hear the words, surprised further that my parents feel this way. I don’t feel this way. I have never felt this way. My first reaction is almost always fear. Of everything. Certainly of anything that is new or different from what I know. But that is not how my parents see me. They see strength. And upon turning this over in my mind today I have come to understand that what they see is who I truly am.

I can live in fear. It’s easy to live in fear. But several years ago I decided to make a conscious effort to not choose fear. It’s an effort. Still, it’s my first response to most every new situation. I first choose to be afraid, and then I choose to push past the fear. But fear always comes first. I’ve prayed over this stronghold for many, many years, yet I still experience this emotion before any other. But now, with my mom’s words echoing in my heart, I understand that I am not truly afraid like I thought I was. It’s not fear that I’m overcoming; it’s actually fear that I’m choosing. I am choosing to be afraid first, and then I’m making the effort to overcome it. But fear is actually my crutch. Fear is what I choose to fall back on instead of tapping into my strength and stepping forward to do the work. In the end, I always step forward, I always accomplish that which I first shy away from. But first I allow the fear.

I am amazed at how simple these answers come, and I’m awed at God’s faithfulness to answer my prayers. Long have I prayed to conquer fear in my life, and now He shows me that it’s been conquered all along. At my core I am not a fearful person; I am a strong person. And that is how I need to live. This is who I truly am. I now see the lie that has kept me down for so much of my life. How glorious to step back into the Light and have the blinders removed! How awesome of God to choose this very moment to remove this hindrance from my heart! The Dream Giver speaks about stepping through the “invisible wall of fear.” How can something invisible be of any consequence to me?

The LORD is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalm 27:1)

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November 21, 2007

ROMANIA : 25 October – 5 November 2007

 
 
How then can they call on the One they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the One of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent?
— Romans 10:14-15
 
 
DAILY JOURNAL

    Preface

    Day 1  |  Day 2  |  Day 3  |  Day 4  |  Day 5  |  Day 6

    Day 7  |  Day 8  |  Day 9  |  Day 10  |  Day 11  |  Day 12

ACCOMMODATIONS  |  NEW FRIENDS  |  TRAVEL

PHOTOS only (slideshow)

 

November 21, 2007

ROMANIA : PREFACE

 
 

PREFACE

The past two years of my life have been introspective and full of personal, spiritual analysis. During this time I read many books, completed several Bible studies, and sought much counsel to answer one simple question that has plagued me throughout my life: “Why am I here? What is my purpose in this life?” I have never felt called to any specific career path, and I’ve never found that level of happiness I expected to have by this point in my life. For many, many years I’ve struggled with feelings of inadequacy and personal failure. And so, at the beginning of 2006, I began a pointed search to determine just what God’s purpose for me was meant to be.

Throughout the year the Lord answered me again and again in the exact same way: “Your only purpose is to love the Lord your God with all of your heart and with all of your soul and with all of your mind” (Matthew 22:37). Of course, I decided it couldn’t be that simple. And yet, everywhere I turned someone was preaching or teaching or quoting this same scripture verse. Time and again these teachers used the phrase, “your purpose.” Determining to embrace this truth, to accept that my only purpose in life was to love my God, has changed the way I look at everything in my life and in this world. No longer am I tied to profession or future plans or a skewed view of personal happiness. I am on this earth for one and only one purpose. And that is liberating.

The beginning of 2007 brought to me a new desire: to find my “mission”. My church has been focusing on missional living for quite some time now, and I have never quite known how that should play out in my daily life, but I prayed one specific prayer in early 2007. I asked the Lord to allow me to join a mission trip at some point during the year. I had no specific destination in mind; I simply wanted to step out and join God at work in the world, wherever that took me. It’s a frightening prayer, “wherever You will send me”, but I have come to trust in the Lord in ways I never knew I could, so I was ready to go “wherever” if He would provide the way. Within days my pastor announced a mission trip to Romania. I was overwhelmed at the timing of God’s answer. And I knew immediately that He would provide all of the financial means and the time off from work and any other need that would arise; all I had to do was believe He would do it and live in expectant faith.

During the next months I saw God put everything into place: a donation was given that covered the full expense of the trip and I was blessed to be its recipient; friends and family provided financial help to purchase the necessary resources I needed to travel internationally, and several friends provided specific items for use during my time abroad so that I wouldn’t have to purchase them; health problems that have plagued me for most of my adult life finally became manageable before I ever set foot on an airplane or experienced a new culture. Detail after detail fell into place, and I have no doubt that God did all of it. I was blessed before ever leaving the States. I knew that the blessings to come would be immeasurable.

As I prayed in preparation for our work in Arad, I began to understand that I not only had one purpose in this life, but also one simple mission. My mission is Christ’s mission: go into all the world and make disciples of all people. Again, it’s so simple, and yet it’s the most important thing we’ll ever do in this life. I did not understand the magnitude of this until I was in the heart of western Romania, and I came to learn not only about missional living but I also received answer to another elusive heart’s desire – I have now found what Max Lucado calls “the sweet spot”. Everything I had been seeking culminated in this adventure in Romania. I cannot possibly share every story nor can I convey every emotion, but I hope that my daily journals will give you a taste of what God can do when we are obedient to His call. I was fully unequipped to accomplish one thing in the world, but I am living proof that God can accomplish anything through us. And to Him is all the glory.

 
continue reading: Day One

November 21, 2007

ROMANIA : 25 OCTOBER 2007

 
 
Thursday

The clouds from my window lie below with a canopy of clearest blue. They are puffy, billowy, like meringue with round peaks. It occurs to me that this must be the view of the ground in Antarctica – purest white as far as the eye can see, peaks rising from the surface every few feet, reminding me how small I really am.

After a while the cloud carpet breaks and I see peaks of another sort, what must be mountains beneath the clouds though they are so small as to appear unreal. As I watch this wonderland pass slowly by I am filled with awe. And I am overwhelmed at the magnitude of the God who created all of this for me to behold.

My thoughts turn to the days ahead. The same God who created the heavens has asked us to share His love story with His people. That He would ask me is astounding enough, but to realize that He so loves people that He wants to draw them close is more than I can comprehend. And I am truly overwhelmed.

The magnitude of what I am traveling toward is astounding. I am full. I can only trust the Lord to believe that I am ready. It is not in my power but in the power of the Spirit. I am reminded of my dad’s words to me this morning: “This is when we understand what Paul said, ‘When I am weak, then I am strong.’”

 
continue reading: Day Two

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