Saturday, February 20, 2010

A Change of Heart

I am sitting here thinking and dreaming and wondering. Haiti has been on my mind and heart so much lately. I know that with the recent devastating earthquake, almost everyone's mind has been reverted to Haiti, even if only for a moment. However, there is a story behind this for me. I shared about it a little in previous posts, posts written about my previous missions trip to Chuuk, Micronesia. It is an interesting and bittersweet thing; an exciting and scary and wonderful piece of this amazing journey that the Lord is taking me on.

When I was in the airport in Chuuk, saying good-bye to the people who came to see us off, an interesting thing was going on inside of my heart. Yes, it was a true tug-of-war within my heart. The women and children stood in a line and handed us necklaces as our farewell gifts; Mahlie gave me mine. They asked me in anticipation, "Are you coming back next year?" All I could do was smile and say, "I want to." It was the honest truth, and yet I knew that what I wanted was not what the Lord wanted for me. There, in that small airport, on a small tropical island, the Lord was tugging at my heart and whispering into it: "Haiti, Haiti, Haiti". Haiti? I can still see the Chuukese children waving wildly from the window as I passed through security and turned around for one last moment with them, sealed with a smile. My next step was a hard one; it was one of letting go, of moving forward, of saying good-bye. I turned around and took that step.

As I sat in the small airport on one of the bright blue chairs, I began to cry. This could not be the end. God must lead me back to these people some day; perhaps I was misunderstanding God's true call. But I knew that it was no mistake and I knew that it was not a miscommunication. God was not calling me back to these children next year, to this tropical island in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, to this place where my heart fell in love with life and reckless faith ~ where my eyes were opened and where my life was changed.

It has been a long and hard and painful journey, but I have come to be okay with that. Somehow, amidst all of the times I have cried out to God to please send me back to Chuuk; to let me go to Chuuk, because I will go to Haiti too; to give me both; to let me live there again; to let me go back ~ Somehow, amidst all of this, the Lord has changed my heart. He has taught me so much of what it means to let go.

And for this, I am forever grateful. The Lord took this heart that was yearning for something else to yearn for Haiti. He turned my passions in a different direction and taught me how to fall in love with a country before I even lived there for a short time... because that is what I am going to do. I am going to live in Haiti for a short time on my next missions trip. A few months ago, I would have said this with remorse. Tonight, I am saying it with excitement.

The recent earthquake is not turning my heart away from this country. In fact, it is drawing me towards it. I feel as though there is a magnetic field between my heart and this country of Haiti, and I am being strongly drawn and attracted to it. This is only the working of the Lord, because He gave me a complete heart change for which I am thankful and excited about.

When I hear of Haiti as an "island country", it makes me smile. He is sending me back to an island. I cannot understand what the Lord is doing in my heart because it is just too big for me to grasp. I cannot fathom His great love for me because it is just too GREAT for me to wrap my mind around.

All I can say is thank You, Father... I cannot wait for the rest of this journey to unfold.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Dreaming God's Way

So I don't think that I have ever written on my blog twice in the same night... but this is important. This is urgent. I did not realize it, but I let my heart stop dreaming...

My heart has forgotten how to remember and to dream in the right way. The Lord is taking me on an amazing journey and I am afraid that through the busyness of school, college classes, work, and everything in between I have forgotten. It saddens my heart beyond words. I just went back and read what I had posted when I returned from Chuuk and my heart filled with sadness and joy and my eyes filled with tears all at the same time.

The dangerous thing about this is that my heart is missing what is behind... it is yearning for it to return again and that is getting in the way of what the Lord wants for me right now.

These new eyes that the Lord has given me are hard to use. Sometimes I wish I could close them because life would be so much easier to live that way. I wouldn't know the things that I know. I wouldn't be at this place where I am continually being called out of my comfort zone. I wouldn't see America the way that I do and so my bitterness would not be so prone to rising up against my own country.

Yet it are these new eyes that are helping me to see Jesus more clearly... It are these new eyes that are helping me to know more of what it means to follow Him. It are these new eyes that are helping me to see the poor and the needy as people who need Jesus' love and as people who I want to bring it to. It are these new eyes that are helping me to fall more and more in love with Jesus and less and less in love with the things of this world.

It are these new eyes that are showing me what faith truly is.

These new eyes strain ahead even when it is easier to live in the past... They look ahead and press towards the goal that my Lord has laid out for me.

"Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." -Philippians 3:13-14

The Lord has set out my present in just the way that He wants it... may I always remember what He has done for me in the past; may I always remember every piece of the Journey because it reminds me and gives me a deeper perspective of His great love for me... But may I strain toward what is ahead, pressing on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. May I never forget what He has done and where He has taken me. May I never forget how to dream. May I always remember to strain ahead without looking back; to move forward with no hesitation.

May the future unfold beautifully...

It is an empty page to me, but to God it is a book of wonders written out by His own Hand.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

This Journey...

So I have been doing a lot of thinking lately... about life, about my future, about God, about people, about America, about my journey. God has given me new passions and new visions and it is a very exciting life living with Him. Sometimes I just can't get over how blessed I am to be able to call this God my Friend and my Savior. It is very humbling.

When I allow my heart to dream, it seems that something always comes in and tries to discourage it. Something that has really been burning on my heart lately is this: "We need missionaries in America, too; you were born here for a reason and are meant to stay here." It is something that I have been told many times by people. It is something that could discourage many plans that the Lord may one day have for me if I were to follow this.

I do not believe that this quote is true for everyone. But am I meant to stay here? Well that is a question that the Lord must answer. However, this quote fuels a fire inside of my heart whenever I hear someone say it. If everyone were to follow that, ministries would not have been started that have effected other people in countries who have never even heard the Name of Jesus. Many people who are now saved would have never been saved.

When I hear the statistics that only 2% of U.S. missionaries go to unreached people groups, my heart aches. When I hear the statistics that 95% of Christian leaders live in the U.S., my heart is set ablaze. When I hear the statistics that nearly 2 billion people have no exposure to the Gospel, my heart races. When I hear the quote, "We need missionaries in America, too; you were meant to stay here" on top of these statistics, it is hard for me to not get angry.

I think of Abraham. His journey is amazing. It is filled with such faith and obedience. God called him to a distant land... and he followed. He did not say, "But Lord! You placed me here to stay here. If you wanted me over there, You would have placed me there in the first place!" No, Abraham knew that the part of his journey in the place where God had him was over... the Lord was calling him to a new place and into a new season of life.

I think of Paul. If he would have continued on being Saul on that journey to Damascus, many people would not be saved. It is amazing to think that Paul was once a man who persecuted and murdered Christians... and then we read about him in the same Bible as one of the greatest Christian missionaries. It is amazing to think that maybe I am one of his spiritual descendants... one of the ones who was saved as a result of someone who Paul witnessed to years ago. It is exciting and it is proof that sometimes the Lord calls us to places that we once never intended to go ~ places other than those which we now call home... places that one day we will call home.

Yes, I think of people like Abraham and Paul and great missionaries and I have to question this quote: "You were meant to stay here." It is as if those words are a big sigh of relief to the one who is afraid ~ of a new place other than the one that they know and are comfortable with, of difficulty, of a hard road, of going out of their comfort zone, of leaving this place that they call home. YES, that once described me and it does describe me many times... And yes, it is true for some to stay in America as missionaries (how would our fellow Americans know about Jesus?)... But it is not fair to claim that it is true for all.

I would love to live a life with this quote as my life quote, with this as my legacy:

"Lord, You placed me here for a reason. I am to witness to those around me now. Yet it is my complete desire to follow You to wherever it is that You lead me. Whether that be a long and hard journey like those of Abraham and Paul or whether it be that You keep me here, let it be so. I just want You. I just want what You want. I was born here for a reason and I was placed on this journey for a reason; but perhaps this is not where You will always have me be. Make my heart ready for wherever it is that You want me and wipe away all of my fears. Let it be so."