In my Father’s house, there’s a place for me. I heard those words sung a couple nights ago during an all staff worship with WinShape Camps. In my mind, they’re also paired with the words: “I serve a King with good intentions. God, You will never turn Your back on me.” Also, yes. You read that right. I was sitting in worship with the summer staff for camps, and I’m currently writing this with rain beating down on the roof of the hotel we’re staying in because it’s rainy season in Costa Rica. God’s plans cannot be wrecked, but He does have a tendency to come in and wreck ours. I stand in complete awe and peace from these past few days.
I’ve learned more about honesty and beauty and trust and mercy and steadfastness in these past few days than I maybe ever have. My plans were turned upside down in so many different aspects of my life: relationships, living situation, and job. Everything, flipped. And I have never felt so at rest in the Lord.
A couple months ago, I wrote the words on here: So maybe I’m not going back to a place I had put all my hopes and dreams and plans inside of and maybe I’m learning what it looks like to stand up for what’s right and maybe I’m learning that doing what is right still has consequences because this world is so broken and maybe I’m about to pick up and move to a new city in three months and maybe that scares the absolute crap out of me, but there is nothing like it. And that was true. I was not going to be working for one of my favorite organizations because of scheduling conflicts and different plans the Lord had for me, though I couldn’t see it then. I was devastated and hurting and so confused that God would use a place to teach me so much about His goodness and then take it away. So I honored my family and stuck it out, and that new city I referenced? It was Nashville. And then that turned to Rome. And now I’m sitting in a bed in San José.
And the world is still broken, that hasn’t changed. I’ve experienced some hurt and confusion in these past few days, but the Lord has been so kind and merciful in answering literally every question that ran so deep and giving me clarity and peace of mind in leaving the country for an extended period of time. I truly understand that feeling of freedom we ought to understand when the author of Hebrews writes: “Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” I used to think that was a cheesy Bible verse that cross country runners got on those cool t-shirts we bought at the end of invitationals, so I was never able to take those words seriously in a way. But other translations use phrases like “let us strip off every weight” or “let us lay aside” or “we must get rid of everything that slows us down,” and those are all beautiful and rich and real, but there was something that beat into the darkened parts of my heart when I saw the word RUN. It cleared out the cobwebs, and I heard, “Talitha koum,” which comes from Mark 5 when Jesus says to the little girl, “Little girl, I say to you, get up!” and she arises from her sleep and comes back to life. Everyone thought she was broken and out of reach from coming back to life, but this is what Jesus does: he comes and makes us come alive. And my favorite thing about that is that is a story he invites us to take part in, and on the really really really good days, we also get to watch dead things come alive.
I put away the things that held me down and have remembered the things that make me come more alive in Jesus. And you also deserve that: to dig deep into the things that make you come more alive and surround yourself with the people who push you to become more alive and more like Jesus. I didn’t always have that, and it varies in seasons, but I am so grateful that the Lord has me in a place now with the best support system I’ve ever known, and he’s allowing me to run headfirst into the unknown. The only thing I am sure of is that Jesus writes the best stories and he is with me, which is so fitting because our theme at camp for the summer comes from Psalm 23.
23 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
3 He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
I am grateful for the ability to say yes and the space to dive deep. In moments like these, I’m pushed back to the psalm that says, “He brought me out into a wide open place; he delivered me because he was pleased with me.” I feel like the Lord has intentionally created margin in my own life, picking me up and changing my plans to fit His better, and being in this space with essentially no strings attached to me, He’s allowed me to dream again.
I constantly feel desires He has placed in me welling up and forcing me to evaluate what it is I want to do; not to settle for a job because it’s smartest, not to stay in one place because of a relationship, and not jumping because I was too afraid to just move. I love this season because there is nothing I would look back on and regret. Each relationship, each move, each moment to slow down has been exactly what I’ve needed to calm an anxious heart. Sure, there have been many moments where I freeze in one place and feel overstimulated and so confused. But sifting through these past few weeks, I’ve had more questions answered, more doors opened, and more unexplainable peace than I have ever experienced.
Here’s to experiencing God in ways I never have before and understanding more about foretastes of the Kingdom of Heaven in answered questions, words I’m finally able to write, and love I cannot begin to explain. One thing that recently stuck out to me in a conversation is that God honors big prayers. He may not answer them in ways we want, like a toddler throwing a temper tantrum to its father, but we ought to be able to trust Him enough to ask Him for the big things. I see this in a lot of specific prayers. I didn’t have the courage to ask God to change His mind when the first door with camp shut, but here I am, still working for this organization I am constantly cheering on.
My views of God lately have been those of a Father who draws near, stands in the corner with birthday hats and confetti and balloons, and cheers for us: I am with you and I am for you!!! I want to challenge you to see God like that too. He’s a God who knows every single one of our weaknesses and never falters. He always cheers us on, walks alongside us, and paves the way ahead. And I’m very grateful for the people He has put around me who function as literally the hands and feet of Jesus, continually pursuing me and cheering me on no matter the season and no matter the wide spaces I run headfirst into.
P.S. If you keep a prayer list, I’d love to encourage you to pray for our teams as we begin camps this week!!