Sometimes it can be something small. Like a sense that you should give some money or food to the homeless person you see on the street corner. Or hearing a need and taking a moment to pray for it. For me, it often involves sending a card of encouragement.
Sometimes it can be something big. Like going on a mission trip. With people you've never met. For eight long weeks...and you've never left home for that long. But you know...you just know...that God is calling you to take that leap of faith and depend on Him.
In any circumstances, the choice is up to you. You can say yes or you can say no. I don't think life is ruined if you say no. But you might miss out on amazing opportunities if you don't say yes. But you have to say:
My sister is currently choosing yes. In her experience, she always had the desire, but God kept shutting the doors. She has always wanted to travel to Africa and minister to children. Ever since she was a little girl this has been her dream. (This is not my dream) Several times over the years, she's had opportunities to go and serve. But every time, the door was clearly shut. But, God is faithful and He does keep His promises and this time was His timing.
Every door opened for her. The group to travel with includes people from her church, the ministry includes a Vacation Bible School and working at a children's home. Her finances were covered above and beyond the need, allowing the excess to help other teammates and the children's home. Her passport and visa came through with no issues and her vaccinations had no complications. She is on her way to Uganda with a happy heart ready to see and do all that God has planned for her.
She has concerns and worries, but she knows Who is in control. This will be a life-changing experience for my sister. She will have the opportunity to need and depend on God in ways she might not have ever had the chance to before. She will learn things about Him and about herself that wouldn't happen back at home. One of the opportunities she has was to create a VBS program and God led her to a theme about how God knows our names and how much He loves us.
Won't it be amazing to hear how God uses this to reach people? Isn't God amazing? He takes us into trying situations that force us to make a choice. To choose to live in fear or doubt, worrying that things will never get better and having no hope. Or to choose to depend on Him and trust that He is in control and nothing that happens to us is outside His knowledge. Not that it's easy, but we have to keep trying to trust and have hope.
My first big opportunity to take a leap of faith came in 1996. During chapel in my junior year of high school, our speaker was a man named Willie Behrends and he was speaking about an organization called Reign Ministries International and their summer mission trips called Royal Servants (www.reignministries.org). It was created over 30 years ago by a man named Louis Inks who had a passion for youth ministry and seeing teenagers learn about God and reach the world. Each summer they send teams all over the world for eight week missions.
During that chapel service, I felt God tugging me to go. I was scared. I'm a homebody and I'd never been away from home that long before. But, I listened and I gathered information and I prayed. I went home and told my parents that I wanted to go on the 10:10 team - an eight week trip around the United States using drama and Scripture to reach people for God. My parents were initially worried since they of all people know how much I hated being away from home...but they have been in ministry almost all their lives and know what it means to listen to God's call.
They were an incredible support as I began the journey of preparing for a "summer of service for a lifetime of ministry." I had to raise support (thankfully God provided through a variety of friends and family), meet weekly with some local team members and our team leaders - Willie and Jackie Behrends, and beginning the process of packing everything on their seemingly huge list. I was scared and there were times I wanted to back out. But I knew this was something God wanted me to do and I needed to trust Him.
That summer was incredibly hard. I have never been so tired, so worried about the weather, so happy to get a shower, so happy to eat sandwiches or hot dogs. I have never had so many opportunities to work through personality conflicts with other people. I have never had to memorize so much Scripture and Transferrable Truths and 4 Spiritual Laws.
That summer was incredibly rewarding. I have never been so daily in God's Word, so blessed by close Christian friends who lived daily life with me, or had the opportunity to visit and minister to people in the inner city of Minneapolis or the Native American reservations in Washington or on the streets of Washington D.C. I have lifelong friends and memories thanks to that summer. And the things I learned about God are never far from my mind.
That was the first time I ever needed to daily, truly, deeply depend on God for everything. I didn't have my family, my friends, my home, my church, my comfort zone to fall back on. I was alone, with God, and I had to make the choice to trust Him. I'm so thankful I listened to that still small voice. And even though I often describe it as the most wonderful, terrible, awful, amazing summer of my life - I chose to go again in 1998! That's God for you...something I never thought I'd do, and I did it twice!
One of my biggest struggles is fear. I wrote about that a few weeks ago, but as I mentioned then it's something I continue to go back to...even though I know I should trust God. I was reading a book this weekend and was reminded of the song You Are My Hiding Place. Such a simple song, but such an important message that I needed to be reminded of this week.
You always fill my heart with songs
Whenever I am afraid
I will trust in You
I will trust in You
Let the weak say I am strong
In the strength of the Lord
I will trust in You
Two prayers this week - the first is a Hawaiian prayer that I also got from one of Robin Jones Gunn's books and the other is from my heart.