Seek my face.

blog - seek my face

Coming into this summer I expected it to be hard. I expected it to be lonely and difficult to adapt. I expected to miss home like crazy and be homesick. I expected to be counting the days to when I would come home.

I mean a part of me also feared that when coming here, I would never want to go back.

I expected to learn a lot about Jesus. To be continually poured into by the people I’m working with. But what I found challenging was not what I expected and vice versa. I got here and immediately connected with the other interns. I fell in love with the culture and within the first week knew that I would be heart broken to leave. God has been so faithful to make this place my home.

What I found difficult was focusing on Jesus. Do you know how easy it is for me to get caught up in the physical work of building chapels and doing construction and easily forget to be in the word pursuing my relationship with Christ? I can often be very work focused and that’s where I’ve been at the past couple weeks. So incredibly physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted, I had less then enough energy to function. I neglected the one relationship that reenergizes me. I neglected the one book that offers more truth and encouragement then I could need in a thousand life times.

On top of that, I’ve been trying to figure out God’s calling for me. I love it here. I love being a missionary in the Dominican. The cultural differences make life a little more difficult sometimes, but I still love it. Spanish is a beautiful language and I desire so deeply to learn it in order to connect better with the people here. I feel called to missions, but the where is hard to discern.

I’ve been letting my exhaustion take over. I’ve been so busy that finding a moment to be still with the Lord is tough. The only consistent time I’ve found to be successful is in the mornings. Free time is sparse; if i want to read my Bible I have to be more proactive here then I am at home. And the past couple weeks, I’ve done that poorly.

But yesterday I got up early. One of the other interns, Hanneh, and I decided to get up yesterday and start studying the book of Proverbs. It’s evident just in the first chapters that He promises wisdom to those who seek it earnestly.

Proverbs 2:4-6 “if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding;

My prayer that morning was that God would teach me and show me Himself and His will for my life.

You know what’s cool? I probably felt God speak to me more yesterday then I have any other day here. Hanneh and I got the chance to talk to the founder of the ministry we’re working for after church. I asked her if she had any advice for someone considering going into missions full time and she had three tidbits of wisdom:

1) Yes come. We need more young people that are passionate about overseas missions.

2) To determine God’s calling you have to continually be in the word and in prayer.

3) There’s no coincidences.

Then last night another leader of a ministry in the Dominican came and talked to our group about her journey of becoming a missionary. She felt called to do missions overseas but couldn’t figure out where. She kept praying and praying about it and telling God – “I’m willing. Show me your will. I’m willing.” One night when she was praying she felt God telling her “Stop seeking my will and seek my face instead.” And she knew exactly what He meant. She had gotten so caught up in seeking His will for her life that she had neglected pursuing her relationship with Him.

What I learned was that sometimes (or maybe all the time?) God doesn’t show you His whole plan for your life. Just little steps you can take to continue following his will for your life. If you’re pursuing your relationship with God and seeking Him out, then you can’t really be outside of His will. He will show you in His timing.

What a good check to be reminded three times yesterday to seek God and be in the word daily. 

Philippians 4: 6-7 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Do you trust me?

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People have been asking me if I’m excited to go to the Dominican. Yes, I am excited. But my excitement is masked by a slight terror. I’m terrified to leave everything I’ve known and go to a foreign country that speaks a foreign language to eat foreign food for 10 (foreign?) weeks.

There has come a point where I’ve had to decide if I truly trust the Lord. I’d love to say the choice came easily, but it really didn’t. It’s an obvious choice, but it’s not an easy one. Obvious because of course the Lord is trustworthy. He created me. Doesn’t that make him worthy and capable to fulfill my needs? To be my friend when I’m lonely? The answer is yes. My head knows it but my heart fears full dependence. To fully depend upon the Lord is something I’m definitely learning.

As I was thinking about what I’m afraid of – how to prepare and get ready, not knowing anyone, not being totally sure what I’ll be doing there, fear of having no freedom –

I started praying about it and i felt like God was clearly saying one thing to me-> “Do you trust me?” Not an accusation, just a question.

Do you trust me?

I started to seek out in scripture verses that related to this, Jesus Christ being my sustenance and here is what I found.

 

Psalm 18:2-3: “The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies.”

When Paul is being afflicted by a thorn in his side, he asks the Lord three times to take it away. But to keep Paul humble, the Lord does not answer Paul’s request to take the thorn away. Paul then writes in Philippians 4, “I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound… I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Paul recognized that it was through the Lord that he received his strength. He chose to be content.

Philippians 4:6-7: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 4:19: “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

Deuteronomy 31:6: “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”

Isaiah 41:10: “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

 

The director at the camp I’ve worked at in the past says that God allows our inadequacies  to increase in order to become more dependent on the Lord.

Trust is a choice. That’s what it comes down to. Even though life can be terrifying at times, his word says that He is my rock and my stronghold. I can do anything with his power that strengthens me. He brings peace. He supplies our needs. Our God is with us wherever we are! All we have to do is trust Him and be willing to go where he calls us.

Wrestling.

Wrestling.

Last week I was wrestling with a decision I had to make. I was recently accepted to be an intern to serve in the Dominican Republic this upcoming summer. (So exciting right?) Well I found out through an email during a really stressful week so I never quite had time to process or commit to it. I got the email and the next step was to sign some forms and get them sent to the ministry I will be serving with. Before I did that, I wanted to know if I could come back for this wedding of one of my good friends. The wedding fell about halfway through the summer and also happened to be during a really busy time in the Dominican. I found out that I couldn’t go to it and I was disappointed.

I was still wrestling with feeling uneasy and not feeling peace about going to the Dominican. It was partly because of not being able to come back for the wedding, but mostly because I hadn’t sat down and prayed and sought the Lord in my decision to go. I had made a decision to go, but I hadn’t fully committed. When I found out I couldn’t come back for the wedding, that was the tipping point for me. I just felt really uneasy about the whole thing. I ended up talking to my brother about it and he suggested I ask again if I could come back for the wedding, explaining how much it meant to me. [side note- I’m a really loyal person and weddings are a big deal to me] He helped me write out an email to send. I sent the request to go to the wedding again and got a reply that baffled me. The response was about what I considered sacrificing for the Lord meant and what I thought Luke 14:25-30 meant. At first I was taken aback by the in-depth questions, but then I realized that I did need to answer these questions. If this was what the Lord was calling me to, I should be willing to dive into this and study what the Lord says.

Sacrificing is an interesting subject. I think sacrificing for the Lord is giving up what I value in order to serve the Lord and to value what He values. Reading about the Biblical definition of sacrifice, certain articles talk about sacrifice being more all encompassing, meaning that sacrificing requires complete surrender to God’s will.

Concerning Luke 14:25:30 – I’ve read these verses before, but never really intently looked to see what Jesus meant when he said that. At first, I was confused that Jesus would ask his disciples to hate his father and mother, brother and sister because in other places in the Bible like Ephesians, it mentions honoring your father and mother and a verse in 1 John that talks about loving your brother. I did some research and found that what Jesus was saying, was not exactly to hate your family, but only to love them less then you love the Lord. So basically, our love for God should be greater then our love for others. Jesus isn’t demanding just our physical service, but he demands our hearts and our minds. Most of the time, I think that we can love both God and family and friends, but we should always be first loyal to the Lord. When deciding whether or not to commit to something, we should first decide if we are willing to sacrifice what it is going to take.

As I realized this, it sunk in. This means living in surrender to God’s will. It’s when we are asked to sacrifice that we can truly see where our value lies. I should be willing to sacrifice everything to serve the Lord. So I continually prayed “God I surrender. I surrender. I surrender.” And I meant it. I didn’t know what it looked like, but I was surrendering.

Okay, so I figured it out right? No, this is when the real wrestling started. How do I know what God’s will is for my life? When I first applied to go to the Dominican, I was incredibly excited. But when I found out I got to go, my excitement faded and fear took hold of me. It was like the devil was attacking me. Reminding me of how hard it would be and all the things I was giving up to go. I prayed and prayed that God would show me His will. I was willing, but I wanted to know for a fact that going to the DR was God’s plan for me.

The time came and I had to send my reply to the staff in the DR. But the time had also come for me to decide, was I willing to give up my own plans for the summer (such as going to this wedding) for the Lord? Would I submit to His will even if it wasn’t clear exactly what that was?

But still I wrestled. I was willing to do what the Lord had, but how was I supposed to know God’s will. I talked to my sister, Meagan, and said one of the reasons I didn’t feel peace was because I didn’t know if this is what the Lord wanted me to do. And she asked me “Well why wouldn’t He want you to go?”

Wow. Okay. I couldn’t think of one reason God wouldn’t want me to go. Every door had been opened for me to go. I had spent so much time in prayer asking that God would give me peace instead of seeking out an answer in His word. Don’t get me wrong, I do think that God gives peace, but it’s definitely in His timing. My heart wasn’t in it, but Jeremiah says, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” We shouldn’t always trust what our heart is telling us.

After Meagan asked me why God wouldn’t want me to go, I found these verses – “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,” “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all of Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth,” “and the gospel must first be preached to all nations,” and “go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” Over and over again he says go and tell others the good news. That’s what I will be doing this summer. Evangelizing in the Dominican.

The question was how was this not God’s will?? I wanted Him to give me this feeling that it was right. But I didn’t need that; all I needed was my Bible because it’s literally HIS word.

As I read the verses about what we are commanded to do, I felt more peace. I sent the email stating that I was committed regardless of whether I could come back for the wedding. Immediately after sending it, I got excited again. It was at that moment that I fully committed. I had prayed and thought a lot about what the summer was going to take, and I decided that I could do it, but only with the Lord’s help. I would trust and abide in Him. I surrender.

It’s easy to get caught up in what we’re feeling, whether that’s fear, uneasiness, or maybe just feeling unequipped. All I needed to do was focus on His word and his instruction. He doesn’t say “Go and make disciples of all nations  if you feel led to” or “If you feel qualified then go preach to the nations.” He just says “Be my witnesses. Go and make disciples. Preach the gospel.” He is all-powerful, he doesn’t need us to be too. I heard a saying once- God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called – and I couldn’t agree more.

I would never be able to do this on my own. I’m moving to the Dominican for two and a half months. I’m not typically an adventurous person. Nor do I enjoy doing things out of my comfort zone. But it is in my weakness that HIS power is made strong! He is glorified through my weakness and fears, because that is where he shines! I’m no longer scared because God’s got me.