Never have I ever been at a point where all I could do was pray for everything and expect anything to happen. 2013 is the year I affectionately call The Year of the Ashes as every piece of life shattered. As I limped into 2014, I seriously questioned my calling to speak, write, and mother. And that’s when God nudged me to do something unorthodox, something out of the box and maybe somewhat crazy, to fly halfway around the world to Tacloban, Philippines.
Putting my faith into action to be the barefooted extension of God’s arms was a scary idea.
After traveling more than 57 hours, we made it to the hotel and I was wondering what I had gotten myself into. The new surroundings of a different culture and less than sparse hotel room I was to share with two strangers had me on edge. Thoughts of my husband and kids threatened to send me into a full blown panic attack.
Excerpt from my journal. March 16, 2014.
For the last fourteen years, I’ve been the gatekeeper of my home. So many things harmed me as a child that it became my goal–my life’s mission to protect my kids. No one, not even my husband could do it as well as I…not even God. I never realized I didn’t trust God with my children until I embarked on this trip.
Now I’m here. Thousands of miles away from Nebraska, where I have no control and no choice but to trust God. To trust he is good, that his plans are great, that he is for me….what are his plans? I don’t know anymore.
And I’m seriously questioning why God wants me here. How is he going to help me “unlearn” my fears? How am I going to learn to trust–to have faith? Am I seriously crazy stupid? How will my actions impact his Kingdom while I’m here?
As the week unfolded, I was embraced by people who lost everything. They were surrounded by rusty tin, old chain link fences, no running water, a tarp for a roof but their faith was awesome. As I played with the kids in the allies of shanties, littered with garbage while the bright sun made the hot dirt glisten; I heard story after story of surging, swirling waters taking lives of family members. And more stories of the water hitting the mountains, surging and grabbing the comforts of home back out to the ocean. Yet, I also heard just how powerful their God is. Not once did their faith waver–it grew despite the circumstances.
Each night we came back to the hotel, our missions teams shared how we met God; countless moments of how God showed up, restoring marriages and repairing the fabric of families, while setting others free from addictions.
And when it was my turn to share my story, all I could do was stumble over words of how I was a victim, fear of what they might thinking–choked the message of God’s redemption. Anger and disappointment flooded my heart as I criticized myself making me feel alone and defeated.
I seriously questioned why I was in the Philippines after that moment. And I wondered Am I enough? Do I really matter?
And it wasn’t until a friend and I were asked to preach at a Chinese church where God showed up. And suddenly bits and pieces of this trip became a collection of tiny little moments where God unfolded his purpose, his message, his plans for me as he changed our hearts through the faith of those who had nothing.
I sat in my seat, riveted by the presence of God as one of my teammates preached, I heard him whisper:
“Because you love me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue you;
I will protect you, for you acknowledged my name.
You will call on me, and I will answer you, Heather;
I will be with you in trouble,
I will deliver you and honor you.” Psalm 91: 14-16 (wording changed)
God reminded me in this moment to move past surviving to be the rescuer he called me to be. Chances are he is calling you to use your trials and struggles in the same way.
And here’s what I learned through God sized moments and the faith of the people of the Philippines which I believe God wants you to know:
- Faith is believing when life overtakes you.
- Faith is hanging on tight in the moments of adversity.
- Faith is embracing the scariest opportunities instead of playing it safe.
- Faith is unlearning everything life has taught us while God teaches us who he really is.
- Faith is trusting God is there when the unspeakable happens.
- Faith is taking spirit promoted risks when everyone thinks you’re crazy.
- Faith is doing the same mundane chores over and over, trusting God is using it for your purpose.
- Faith is allowing God to heal you as a victim, teaching you to move past surviving, to stand on his word in order to rescue others who have been in your shoes.
Deep in the heart of every soul is the desire to step out in faith–to do something that matters. And this is where your faith will become alive.
Do you go there?
Do you wonder if you matter? Do you wonder how God desires to use you in the everyday moments? Or has God called you to an adventure of faith?