I wanted to write this post a bit earlier, and post it close to the date that marked my 5 year anniversary of being in full-time missions. However, I was on the road, days were long, sleep was short, and it didn’t quite happen that way. It was interesting, though, to mark the difference I felt in this five year mark than what I had felt just one year previously.
You see, with four years of being in missions, I had become disappointed. In some ways I felt let down by God. I knew He had called me into missions though I resented it a bit. I wanted security. I wanted home. I wanted my own home.
With five years of being in missions, it was almost if the coin has been flipped over – but really, my life has been turned upside down in many ways over this last year. And I’m all the better for it I believe. On March 17th, 2017, the 5 year anniversary of missions I found myself in neither “home” (Northern California and Brazil), I was sleeping in someone’s living room whom I had met a week previously, journeying alongside of a woman I had met two weeks previously, speaking about missions and my love for what God has called me to do.
While I do believe we will go through disappointing times in our lives and go through many times when life isn’t what we “signed up for,” I know that I had grown disappointed and resentful because I lost sight and took my focus off of God’s character and who He truly is.
So to commemorate five years in missions, I wanted to put the focus on Jesus and His character. The following are five characteristics of God that I have breathed, lived and experienced and seen over and over again in these last five years of missions and truly, let’s be honest, I’m sure if we take a look at our lives, God’s character is evident, because He is constant and He never changes.
1. My Jesus is Faithful
I love the scripture that says, “if we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself.”* Jesus has been faithful to me; specifically in reminding me of my calling to missions. I knew that God had called me to full-time missions since I was 10 years old. Over the years, more than once, God has spoken to my heart and reminded me. When I’ve doubted and when I’ve grown tired and disappointed, He speaks to my heart, “I’ve called you to the nations.” He has me look up at the stars and reminds me of Abraham- whom He called to go to an unknown nation, with the promise that his descendants would be a blessing to all the nations. He’s reminded me that He is my home when my body and my soul are crying out for something permanent. He speaks through a Brazilian friend of mine at a missions conference and my heart is reignited with the desire to go, not only to Brazil, but to China and beyond. “WE’RE GOING TO THE NATIONS!” I yell to a friend.
Oh, how my Jesus is faithful.
2. My Jesus is my provider
From flip-flops to plane tickets, I have seen God provide for the material items I have needed and from friends and those who are more like family, I have seen God provide for my emotional and spiritual needs as well.
Far from home, my heart aching, I asked the leader of our missions campus if she could give me a hug. She did much more than that. She sat by my side as I cried for hours.
Walking to a friend’s house with my broken and three times repaired flip-flops digging into the sides of my feet, I wondered if God would provide flip-flops for me. “and if I don’t get new flip-flops?” I thought to myself, “God is still good and I will still trust Him.” Upon arriving at my friend’s home, her little sister handed me a package- a brand new pair of flip-flops! :)
From the small things to the big things, the seemingly unimportant minuscule details to the dreams in my heart, my Jesus is my provider of them all.
3. My Jesus is my Father
You know how a father wants to give his kids good things? I do realize there are those fathers who have not been good fathers and who have perhaps been terribly, awful fathers. I am not talking about them. I am talking about the dads who want to give their kids the best, they want to see their kids thrive and they find joy in seeing their children’s joy.
“If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”* (in Matthew it reads “…the heavenly father give good things to those who ask…”)
Jesus, God, He gave us the very best He could give us – Himself.
In addition to this, I have experienced and received gifts from God that have been beyond what I asked for or imagined. I prayed and asked for a car; someone gave me a Prius. A Prius! What? At no point in my life did I expect to own a cute, small, gas efficient, beautiful vehicle like a Prius! And it was simply given to me! Another time I was given a guitar- a beautiful guitar with a beautiful color and one that I had looked at years before as a teenager. Now it’s mine and is being used to lead others into worship. Yet another time, God knew that I loved and wanted some bright colorful socks, so what did He do? He gave those to me as well!
Also, if God is my father, that makes me His daughter. This has been a truth that has been solidifying itself into my core being. I am a daughter. I cannot earn His love, neither do I have to.
Knowing who God is- my father, and whose I am –HIS, shows me who I am – a daughter of the King. And when I know who I am and where I came from, I know where I am going (back home) and what my purpose is – to bring my Father glory and honor- this brings true satisfaction.
“… I shall be satisfied with your likeness.”*
4. My Jesus is my Lover
Because of culture and connotations, this is one that makes me a bit squeamish to write out and actually say out loud… He is my lover. But He is.
And I am His beloved. Another truth God has been solidifying in my life- I am loved. Why? Because He is love. He is love itself. And He is my lover.
Being on the mission field can be lonely. Being single and desiring to not be any longer, it is a fight to remember that no other love can truly satisfy and that He is my lover, my husband, and I am His beloved. “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.”*
5. My Jesus is my friend (and ever present travel buddy!)
As a kid, when I first heard the verse, “…but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”* I thought for sure the writer of Proverbs wasn’t talking about an actual human, walk on this earth with me type of person, rather, I was sure he was talking about Jesus. And really, Jesus has been this type of friend for me. He’s been a friend who sticks closer than a brother and he has been an ever present travel buddy (which makes traveling better). We have gone bike riding, hiking, and have gotten lost (though I’m sure He’s known where He’s at) together. We have gone through a lot of airport security checkpoints together, made our way through the craziness of LAX (airport in LA), and after having rushed through security and rushed to find the right gate, we have sat and waited for the plane to depart, carrying us to another adventure, together.
Sometimes, oftentimes, while traveling I will say out loud or under my breath, “Well, it’s me and you Jesus.” We have stood in airports where everyone speaks a foreign language and waited to be picked up with no way to contact anyone and hoped that they’d come soon together (to which, in these times, Jesus has placed a peace within me and calmed my anxious heart). We’ve gone on drives together to Chico, San Francisco, and LA. We’ve yelled and cried and shouted and sung at the top of our lungs. He’s listened to me and encouraged me to speak what’s on my heart. He’s let me rant and get mad and frustrated and cry and blame Him and not understand Him and He’s listened. He’s been a friend and ever present, even when no one else has been.
Jesus, you are my friend. And I love you.
In writing this blog post, I have re-read what I’ve written and in re-reading it I am reminded of my relationship with God and this relationship we’ve had, in general, and specifically regarding missions. Life isn’t always easy, sometimes I don’t get what I expected or wanted, many testimonies have been shared in this post but there are some that are yet to be written. I don’t always feel “on fire” and sometimes I do still feel anxious and worry about where money is going to come from, there are days when I still feel lonely, there are times when I doubt, or lose sight of for a moment who I am (in the light of who He is) and what He’s called me to do. I know, however, that when these times come, it is because I’ve taken my eyes off of Jesus and I’ve put them on the metaphorical waves around me. When I put my eyes on Jesus, remembering His character, I know that in the light of who He is, financial worries seem small, loneliness is a bit more bearable, and my identity is found in Him.
In remembering who Jesus is, His character, I am reminded that He’s got it under control. He is faithful, He is my provider, He is my father, He is my lover, and He is my friend.
*Verses mentioned in text (all have been taken from the ESV):
Faithful: 2 Timothy 2:13
Provider: Philippians 4:19
Father: Luke 11:13 (also Matthew 7:11); Psalm 17:15
Lover: Jeremiah 31:3
Friend/travel buddy: Proverbs 18:24