Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Unspeakable Peace

Peace that Passes all Understanding

Last week I wrote about my struggle with immediate obedience.  There is one time that stands out to me that I immediately obeyed God's instruction.  I will never forget the moment I felt Him calling me to go to Ethiopia last April.  My mom told me she felt like she was being called to go, and I heard God say, "You will be on that trip, and you will take Jax with you."  I didn't tell my mom in that moment, because I didn't want my calling to affect hers.  I knew she needed to respond to God independently of my actions.

In fact, there was another trip to Ethiopia she was considering.  While she prayerfully decided which trip to go on I kept quiet.  I knew I was going regardless of her plans, and I didn't want to get in the way of God speaking to her.  It wasn't until she clearly knew where God was calling her that I told her my calling.

Mom, Jax, and me in Ethiopia

I'll never forget her shock.  Not only was she surprised (and grateful!) that God called three generations to the same trip, she was also blown away that I signed up for something so far out of my comfort zone.  What shocked her even more was my excitement leading up to the trip.  Don't get me wrong, she was excited too, but I was over the top excited.  Without hesitation.  Without fear.  Without anxiety.  I mentioned in my post about boasting in my weaknesses that this was the one time in my life I responded to God immediately and in full obedience.  There was no doubt in my mind that I had heard God's voice telling me Jax and I would be on that trip, and knowing how far it was out of my range of talents and abilities, I knew God had big plans.  I had no idea how big, but I knew it would be amazing.

One day on the bus ride form the hotel to the village, I wrote these words in my journal:

"I knew God called me to this trip, but the peace He has filled me with about every step confirms that this was His plan for me.  I've never known what it is like to live without anxiety. I said to my mom before we left, 'Wow, is this what most people feel like on a daily basis?' Up until a few months ago when the training started, I did not know what it was like to live without a pit in my stomach. It's something I've grown used to and dealt with every day of my life."

Then I wrote the following words, and as I wrote I was overcome with emotion and sat on the bus and bawled.

"Who would have thought that when planning for the scariest and most out of my comfort zone experience of my life that I would for the first time feel peace?"

Philippians 4:7 - And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:7

There have been periods in my life when my anxiety was crippling.  I have missed out on many opportunities when fear and anxiousness have gotten the best of me.  Even on my good days, I usually have some measure of anxiety.  I honestly didn't know that wasn't normal before Ethiopia.  I thought everyone experienced that.  Until that awful, menacing pit left my body, I didn't realize what it was like to live without it.  I am so thankful that I said yes.  This gift of freedom and strength and of getting to be a part of the Lord's work in the lives of others, I have never experienced a greater blessing.

Psalm 28:7-8

The Lord is my strength and my shield;
my heart trusts in him, and he helps me.
My heart leaps for joy,
and with my song I praise him.

The Lord is the strength of his people,
a fortress of salvation for his anointed one.

Peace is not about a comfort zone.

Experiencing peace

During our April trip I posted this picture on my Facebook page with these words:

"This is my favorite picture of myself ever. I've never been so far out of my comfort zone, I've never needed a shower more, and I've never been so tired. Yet those won't be the things I remember when I look at this. 

I will never forget smiling so hard that my face hurts. I will never forget asking a house full of almost forty people (many who were hanging through the door and window because there wasn't enough room!) if they want to accept Christ and watching every single one of them cheer and clap and then pray with me. I will never forget the radiant joy on the young girl's face when she asked if she could take this picture of me, and I handed her my phone. 

Those are the moments I will think of when I see this image."

When I talk about going back to Ethiopia, I can't control the emotions, the excitement, the anticipation.  I feel like I belong there.  I don't know how many times God will call me back there, but I do know that forever a huge part of my heart lives there.

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