The Frontier’s Not Safe.

“While there is left in you a trace of ill-temper, or of vanity, of pride, or of selfishness; while there is left in you a single sin, or germ of sin, you must not rest from the battle. God does not require from you to be sinless when you come before Him, but He does require you to be unceasing in your perseverance. He does not require that you shall never have fallen; but He does require unwearied efforts. He does not require you to win, but He does require you to fight.”  -Frederick Temple
Lately I’ve been experiencing a lot of things that are outside of the norm for me and other things that I haven’t experienced in a long time.  I was trying to figure things out and struggling through these thoughts and emotions and it finally hit me like a ton of bricks.  Spiritual warfare.  I become so caught up in what’s happening that I forget that living for Christ is not always easy.
1 Kings 21 was a good reminder that standing up for God’s law and being obedient to Him is “dangerous” so to speak.  God never promised to give me physical safety, but He does promise that He will equip me for the battle that matters.  I need to be on my guard and to stand my ground.  I should not worry when spiritual warfare happens, but be worried when I don’t see it.  Then I either am not being used by God, or I am oblivious to it, thus giving evil a foothold.  It is even somewhat comforting realizing that there is some sort of attack happening, as weird as it sounds.
It is almost ironic that last time I was at Tanalian Bible Camp the theme of the week was being Warriors for Christ and we memorized Ephesians 6:10-18.  It’s completely about putting on the armor of God and being ready for battle.  I know that God wants to do something powerful in my life this summer and I need to be ready.  That means preparing now.  That means realizing that the lies that I can so easily believe, the physical tiredness, the issues within my family, the worries about finances, the fears of leaving, and the self doubt is all part of the battle.  It’s not easy to step into the Endless Frontier because attack is inevitable.  But the good news is, I am on the winning team.  The Frontier is not safe.  But I am safe in the hands of an Almighty God.

“The triumphant Christian does not fight for victory; he celebrates a victory already won.” -Captain Reginald Wallis

To Be Expected

I find it very interesting how God chooses to prepare me for certain things to come in life.  I often have a movie reel of what my expectations are and hope that they will meet up with reality.  If I were to go back and play those two scenes side-by-side I would probably be embarrassed by the hope and expectations I had in the past.  Although this seems to be a fairly common occurrence in my life, I am taking a different approach to expectations for this trip to Alaska.
Expectations in and of themselves are not bad things.  It’s when my expectations  are what I am focused on.  It’s when my thoughts become what is “right” in the situation and anything deviating from that course is unwelcome, that is when expectations are bad.  I have spent a good deal of time in prayer about expectations for this summer and I would ask that you pray along with me about these expectations.
I serve a God who promises to answer.  I serve a God who works in mighty ways.  He is merciful, gracious, infinitely knowledgeable & powerful, abounding in love, faithful, and yet He chooses to be involved in the details of my life.  This God is the one who I want my expectations to line up with.  This summer what I have put as the foundation of my expectations are the promises of Almighty God.  I expect to be challenged, to come home with my life changed because of His working in my heart.  This preparation process has already proved to be something that has changed my heart and renewed my mind in so many things.  I expect to be humbled and used as God’s vessel because of His work in my life.  I expect to be pushed outside my comfort zone and at times to be pushed to my physical limits.  All of this is for the sake of God’s name to be glorified and for the message of Christ to be proclaimed.
As much as I am looking forward to Tanalian and spending my summer there, I definitely have fears and I don’t want them to hinder the excitement of the expectations I have of God doing wonderful things.  It’s hard leaving my family (especially my beloved nephews), preparing for leaving two jobs for two months, getting financial things in order before I go, leaving everything familiar, leaving my church, spending two months working & living with people who don’t really know me, and the scariest part of all is knowing that I will probably end up wanting to stay.
Because of this, my last hope/expectation and prayer is that God would give me faith and total trust.  It’s terrifying and yet freeing to ask God for faith.  It means letting go of the temporal things, or even the fears that have been so tightly clenched in my hands, and then clinging onto God’s hands.  Oh, what a privilege it is to be on this journey knowing that is whose hand I cling to.

This Summer’s Adventure

Well, I am finding that not knowing is one of a few things:
  • Confusing
  • Frustrating
  • Refreshing
You may not agree with me on this. I usually like to know what’s going on. It’s comforting knowing what’s coming next in life, but sometimes surprises are nice. However, surprises are only nice if they are in their truest form. If you know one is coming it’s not a surprise. It’s anxiety. At least for me.
Lately I’ve been coming to learn that surprises from God do not need to be mixtures of confusion and frustration for me (as they usually are), but they are completely refreshing. Let me explain.
In mid December when my unsettled feelings about going to the the middle east started, God brought one of our missionaries to our church. He was there one Sunday and was talking about the camp his family runs in Alaska. I had volunteered there for a week in 2009 and I loved it. As we were talking I was getting really excited about the ministry all over again.
As the weeks went by Alaska kept getting brought up. It was a consistent pricking of my heart and definitely a prodding from God. By mid January I was completely confused and was not sure where God was leading me. It didn’t make sense to me to change my plans. I have even been asked to share in front of the church that I was planning on going to the middle east. It was somewhat humbling to have shared what I thought was going to happen and maybe God was going to change those plans.
So by early February I really sensed that God was closing one door and opening another. I planned a meeting with our missionaries and talked about me spending two months in Alaska. After the conversation all I felt was an overwhelming sense of being in God’s will. I knew that was it. I was supposed to spend my summer serving at Tanalian Bible Camp in a small town about 200 miles west of Anchorage, Alaska.
Don’t get me wrong, Alaska is hands down the most beautiful place I have been. It’s simply breath-taking, but that is not what is drawing my heart back there. I spent a week living in a cabin with 5 third grade girls who desperately wanted to be loved. I saw them struggle to accept love, saw hurt in their eyes, and a desire to have something to hope for. I have an a compassion and love for them that I know is completely inhuman. I can honestly say, I would not have it if my God had not placed it in my heart. There is such a sense of hopelessness, fear, and insignificance within the children that fly into Tanalian Bible Camp over the summers and I want to share with them the hope and the love that can be experienced only in Jesus Christ.
That’s where my heart is. I can’t wait for the rest of me to join it up there this summer.
“The heart of a man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.” – Proverbs 16:9

My Heart’s All Over the World

This time last year I was in full swing of getting things lined up for summer mission trips at my church (I am the administrative assistant to the pastor who oversees missions). We had a powerful Mission Conference in January and I was so excited to see God at work in so many different culture, languages, and areas on the map that I had only seen in my imagination. I had every intention of going on a mission trip last year. I was hoping for Uganda.
As things progressed, I sincerely felt God saying no. It was not the time to go, but rather to rest. I had been going non-stop in so many directions and was honestly not taking great care of myself. I was working quite a few hours, but that wasn’t what was causing my need for rest. It was something more. So instead of going on a mission trip, I took my week off and headed up to Lake Ann, Michigan as a driver for the campers from my church. The week was exactly what I needed. It was a time to clear my head. I was able to spend time with Christ and just rest.
I was not prepared for what came next. I was dropping off the Uganda team at the airport and they were the last team to leave for their trip, and as I drove away from O’Hare the tears began to flow. I didn’t realize how much it was effecting me that I was not going. I had developed such a desire to get to know other cultures, to share Christ with hurting people, to get involved in missions…. and yet I was still in Illinois.
It was during the time that the team was in Uganda that a missionary my church supports talked with me about the idea of teaching at an international school in the middle east. I would have the opportunity to teach English and Bible to junior high and high school students. This was not something I had ever considered, but the idea thrilled me. It was what I thought I had been waiting for! It was God calling me to something greater. As I prayed, I got more and more excited about the idea of seeing new places, learning a new language, engaging in new cultural experiences, spending time with the missionaries, eating new food, and investing time in students’ lives. It all seemed to perfect. For several months I pursued that path. I even met with the mission board, and was starting to plan. However, in early December I started to feel unsettled about the idea. There was no peace. The excitement was dwindling, but I still had a desire to go, but it was definitely not the right time.
Slowly, as in over two months, I began praying differently about the entire situation. I kept feeling more and more uneasy and just not right about it. I couldn’t make myself fill out the application and move forward with the process. I talked to a few people and they too had an uneasiness about the trip. By mid January I was fairly certain I was not supposed to go to, but then what?
I still had a desire to go. It was not that I could not be content here, or that there’s not work to be done for God’s kingdom in Illinois. That’s not it at all. There was just no peace about staying. There is someplace that my heart was being called….. I just didn’t know where.

It’s All in the Name…

I suppose I should explain where the blog name comes from. What I will attempt to write is the condensed version. I doubt it will come out in a way that seems condensed though.

Most of my life I have been content with where I am. It’s been easy to get comfortable with the flow and not make any waves. In recent months I have experienced something completely different. It’s been almost the exact opposite. It’s a stirring, unsettled restlessness that I can only describe as a prodding from the Holy Spirit toward something more.

I have had a relationship with Jesus Christ for most of my life, but this is a new and different feeling. It’s a call to trust with a radical and a seemingly illogical abandon. As I was contemplating how to put into words what I was experiencing, a dear friend of mine told me about a podcast series that I needed to listen to.I started listening to the podcast on my way home from work and I was floored. I was hearing someone else explain my heart better than I could. Eric Ludy put into words what God was challenging my heart with. What God is calling me to is to take steps into His Endless Frontier. Let me explain.It’s easy to begin a relationship with Christ and take one step into the Endless Frontier, look around and decide you are now better off than 99% of people, get comfortable, and pitch your tent there. You’ve set some standards for yourself based on biblical principles and cleaned up some of the “worse sins” and are feeling pretty good about yourself. Then maybe down the road there will be a prick by the Holy Spirit and you’ll pull the tent stakes up and take another step or so, get comfortable there, and pitch that tent again.

I don’t want that. I am tired to pitching my tent and pulling it up again. God is challenging me to trust Him. To get so caught up in my pursuit of Him, that I forget about the tent. That I pull up those tent stakes and run toward Him. I am not looking around at the scenery, or getting distracted by the challenges in this wild and unknown expanse, but I am running toward the destination my God has set for me. I will never fully arrive this side of heaven. I will never find that perfect place to pitch my tent and I am done searching for it. Beside, I don’t even need that tent where I am headed. My loving Savior is preparing a room for me in His house. As much as I love camping, that will be way better.

God has used godly men and women in my life who have been examples of pioneers into the Endless Frontier who have blazed trails that others have never been on before. I thank God for these people who have been physical, tangible examples of reckless and ruthless trust in their Savior and Lord.

Now, God is saying that it’s my turn. Am I ready to step out with that kind of faith? Am I ready to embark on a journey that doesn’t make sense to me? The answer is not so simple. I, on my own strength and volition, am not ready. I never will be. But as I have been delving in to this concept God keeps showing me that it’s not about feeling prepared. It’s about God. It’s not about me, what I can learn, what I can accomplish. It’s about loving Christ enough to follow Him and explore all that He has planned out.

Passages for Thought:

  • Abraham – In Genesis 12 God calls Abraham to a “land I will show you.” Abraham had no idea where God was taking Him, but he obeyed. I, however, don’t have family to pack up and take on this journey, so it should be a little less intimidating.
  • Elijah – 1 Kings 19 is such a full chapter and has definitely impacted my view of what following God looks like. Elijah get physically tired. He was completely ready to give up. He needed to rest, so he complained to God and then fell asleep. God sent an angel, gave him food, let him sleep again, sent the angel again to wake him up, and then gave him more food. This was when God called him to action. God knew Elijah was exhausted, so He fulfilled the physical needs, maybe not in the way Elijah wanted, but it was supernatural. It was loving. It was exactly what Elijah needed to fulfill the purpose God had for Elijah to fulfill at that point in time.
  • Elisha – God, later in 1 Kings 19, sends Elijah to Elisha. As exhausted as Elijah was in his mission, God was still going to use him. So Elijah threw his cloak on Elisha as a symbol of passing on his role as a prophet. This is when Elisha did something remarkable. He left his work and asked Elijah if he could go and say goodbye to his family. After getting permission, he not only says goodbye, but he slaughters his 12 oxen, feeds his family, and then burns all his farm equipment. Now, this may sound silly, but it is so symbolic. He’s giving up the life he knew as a farmer and instantly follows. He gets rid of everything that gave him an identity and job there, sacrifices it, and heads out to follow God’s call on his life.

This is the beginning. It may not look important. But God is doing something radical. It’s counter cultural. It’s counter everything I have thought of as safe, practical and logical. It’s against the planning and perfectionist tendencies that I have. It’s transformational. It’s God. He’s at work. I am nothing, but a vessel.

Taking the First Step

I never thought I’d be a blogger. I have resisted, but lately have so much that I want to remember and that I feel like God is calling me to share. I don’t claim to have a lot of answers, or to even have content that will be relevant to other lives. What I have to share is a real journey that I am taking with my God. It’s a journey that sometimes doesn’t even make sense to me, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. This is my travel log.