There is a famous saying out there about how life is about the journey and not just the destination...and I've honestly come to see the truth in that...even in the little journeys/destinations that make up life. For example, in about five weeks... or 38 days to be exact...I leave to go on a missions trip to Ecuador. And although it's crazy to think that in such a short amount of time I will have this amazing opportunity, I would be lying if I didn't say that I find myself more caught up in the journey of it all then the ultimate destination.
It was almost a year ago now that I started thinking that God might be calling me to do something like this and at the time I was in such a dark place spiritually and emotionally, that I honestly didn't want to hear it. In fact I did everything in my power...short of sticking my fingers in my ear and saying "I'm not listening..I'm not listening" (okay so there was a little of that)...to keep from having to acknowledge the little tugs God was making on my heart. I was broken and ashamed. I had just walked through a situation that forced to see my own self-centeredness and all the ways that I use the banner of service to "God" to make myself feel important and validated.....and honestly I just felt like I was a failure to everyone.. from God... to my church... to my family...even to myself. So to think that God was calling me to "try again" just seemed crazy...and scary....REALLY SCARY!
A month or two went by and I still couldn't shake the feeling that this was something God wanted me to do, so I decided to ask some friends to pray with me about it. Honestly at this point my prayer life consisted mostly of me complaining and whining to God....I wasn't really looking for clarity...I just wanted to have the tugging on my heart stop. In fact, when I asked people to pray with me I worded in such a way that I was actually asking that they would pray God would change His mind, close every door and basically pretend this "leading" never happened.
Not only was I terrified to take a step of faith like this again, but I trembled at the idea of having to acknowledge....even to friends...that there was a part of me that really thought this was God's plan. I still felt like a screw up...and that something like this was only going to lead me to screw up even more....and I figured other people would see that and be annoyed or even laugh at my mention of need of prayer...but they weren't and they didn't!
In fact, all their praying seemed to only solidify God's calling and to be honest it seemed to be opening doors that I hadn't even believed were there. Before I knew it all these pieces of the puzzle started falling into place...without me even trying...and it all came down to me making a choice...I could step out and be obedient and apply for a trip...or to cower in my fear... Obviously I chose to obey, and what I've realised since then... as it seems I'm constantly having to walk out that obedience through my choices... is that the question really isn't "Will you obey" but rather "Who are you going to allow to be your master".
The bible teaches that when we become Christians, we become slaves to Christ...He is our master, but to be honest, for most of my life.....even in the time I've been a Christian...I've been more of a captive to fear. Fear controls so much of what I do...and don't do....in life! I can't tell you how many opportunities I've missed out on because I was too scared to do something! Even simple things in life....like calling someone on the phone, going to a place to don't know all the well, or trying something I might not be good at, scare me. I don't like to admit it, but so much of my life has been paralyzed by this fear, that it's honestly kept me from stepping out and being the person I always wished I could be.
And maybe that's why God called me on this journey to Ecuador to begin with....because you see....this journey....it's been all about facing my fears. From the moment I said "Yes" to God, I've been faced with one situation after another after another, where I've had to decide if my master would be God or my fear. I've had to go to people I'm not comfortable around... who I'm not sure even like me, never mind support me... and ask them to vouch for me. I've had to stand in front of large crowds... with my entire body shaking... and ask for financial support and then trust against everything in me that wanted to doubt, that people would give. And I've had to open myself up to meeting new people and being willing to invest in new relationships when every fear inside of me screams of the danger!
I can't tell you it's been easy.....and I can't say I've given up on all my fear....but what I can say is I've never grown so much in my life in such a short period of time....and even more than that I've never felt more close to God... even in the midst of all the ups and downs... than I do right now! So yeah.....I'm excited about what this trip holds for me...and I'm even excited about the next 38 days...but what I'm most enjoying is the journey....cause after all life's not just about the destination!