It’s so difficult to put into words all that I experienced during my trip to Costa Rica with Finish the Work. Fear, challenge, life change, a boost of my faith in Jesus… and probably most appropriately, a swift kick in the pants.
Prior to my trip 8 months ago, I was totally comfortable as a stay at home mom and wife to my wonderful kids and amazing husband. Life was starting to become challenging as my father-in-law had become very ill. I thought of my assigned “mission field” as my kids and family, interspersed with singing on the worship team every few Sundays and walking life together with our friends. I felt I was “doing my part” to further the Kingdom and anything more just wouldn’t quite “fit” into the life I was living at that moment.
I had always dreamed of going on a mission trip, but never quite knew how to make that happen, nor did it look very hard to find ways to do it. How funny is it that God placed the opportunity right into my lap when Finish the Work came to Lifepointe and presented one Sunday? I discussed it with my husband and he encouraged me to sign up. He could handle the kids and work while I was gone. He even continued to support me going when his father was diagnosed with terminal cancer and moved in with us so we could help care for him. Looking back, I wonder if I was searching for reasons NOT to go. God had placed that small seed of desire in my heart, but with everything going on, and all the demands of my life, certainly that was not the time for me to leave my family for a full week, right? Satan does a good job for making his voice sound like logic…I know that I have unfortunately listened many times before.
Although I was scared, I put on a brave face and boarded the plane to Central America. The flight was about 3 or 4 hours long and the trip was only 7 days, but with each mile traveled, with each day that passed, with each hour worked to finish construction of the church, and time spent making new friends, God slowly unraveled the bindings that I had pulled so closely around me, and that Satan had reinforced as my only purposes in life. God showed me in His great mercy that I was still Lori, wife, mother, daughter, and friend. Those things would not change, but I was even more than that. I was a daughter of the King! I was knot together for a purpose even greater than the one I was currently fulfilling. There were passions and talents that God had placed inside of me and grew throughout my life to help make His name known and to draw people closer to Him. There was more to me than “just this.”
We did a study of Nehemiah while we were in Costa Rica. You probably remember him as the one who rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem, but did you know that Nehemiah started out as the King’s cup bearer? As he performed his duties, I can imagine that Nehemiah had no idea God’s plans for him and that he “set” with his job and status in life. He didn’t HAVE to make a change or step outside of his career to do anything different, but he did when God called him to. When Nehemiah learned that the walls of Jerusalem had been torn down and that his people were in trouble, God planted a seed, so he prayed and he fasted. Rather than staying comfortable in his room at the castle and in his small world and job…he listened and he prayed for what God wanted him to do next. Once Nehemiah knew what needed to be done (the rebuilding of the temple walls), do you think God automatically opened to doors for him to leave his job and go do what he was called to do? Nope, not initially. Nehemiah had to ask for it. I LOVE the passage that describes when Nehemiah asked his “boss” (the king) for time off AND supplies AND equipment to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem!
“…I was serving the king his wine. I had never before appeared sad in his presence. So the king asked me, ‘Why are you looking so sad? You don’t look sick to me. You must be deeply troubled.’ Then I was terrified, but I replied, ‘Long live the king! How can I not be sad? For the city where my ancestors are buried is in ruins, and the gates have been destroyed by fire.’ The king asked, ‘Well, how can I help?’ With a prayer to the God of heaven, I replied, ‘If it pleases the king, and if you are pleased with me, your servant, send me to Judah to rebuild the city where my ancestors are buried.'” -Nehemiah 2:1-4 (NLT)
Nehemiah was TERRIFIED to ask the kind for what he needed, but with a prayer to the God of Heaven he did. And guess what? The king said “YES!” The king not only let Nehemiah go, but he provided supplies and made sure he had safe passage to return to Jerusalem and fulfill God’s calling. I can only imagine how Nehemiah’s fear turned into joy at that moment. A huge change must have occurred in his attitude for sure. I have been changed through my experience, just as I imagine that Nehemiah was. God planted the seed and provided the passion and gifts that Nehemiah needed to go and make a difference for His kingdom and the city of Jerusalem, but Nehemiah had to act and initiate it.
So, where did this leave me? I came home from my mission trip to my family and I was so thankful for my safe and comfortable home that I had left just seven days before. I felt changed, different somehow. The best way to describe it, and I have said this to many people, is that my shoes “just didn’t fit” anymore. It was as if I left as a size 7 and came back as a size 8.
God reminded me in my time away that I am more than what I was “settling” for. Am I still a wife and mother? Of course! Do I do these jobs to the best of my ability and love every minute of it? Absolutely. I learned that I have to seek God and search for what else He wants for my life and what He made me for. Not only that, I might just have to go and ask for it to make it happen – I might be terrified, but God will be with me and when the time is right, He will provide so that I can be ALL that He has created me to be.
My mission field has grown, and will continue to, and that is a GOOD thing. I need to make sure that I don’t keep myself wrapped up only in what is around me, but continue to seek after what is outside of my current circle and what God wants me to step into. Satan is a tricky fellow and can come up with many logical excuses as to why I shouldn’t do many things. I just need to make sure I’m listening to the right voices.
Part of my journal entry upon my return was this,
“You have out me here for a reason, God. Help me to stand steadfast in that! Don’t let me hear words of the enemy. We are all on our own journey with You. Help me focus on mine.”
So, no, looking back, I see that my fear has been changed to empowerment. I understand that the challenge of leaving my family was small compared to what God has in store for the future because He made me to do even more! God has given me that “swift kick” in the pants to stop being so passive and just wait for opportunities to serve Him. I need to seek out ways to use the gifts and passions He has given me. He has shown me that even if I am terrified, if I feel Him calling I need to pray and then step out BODLY in faith, knowing that the God of the Universe will provide when the time is right.