The Lord has been working on my heart for quite some time. Looking back, I realize that He has been prodding me and giving me experiences and lessons to grow from, to make me stronger in my faith. I’ve seen little glimpses and reflections of the change that was slowly occurring, but it wasn’t until recently – within the past few months – that He honestly worked a miracle on my heart and showed me how hard and callous it had become. Very suddenly, I felt as though up to this point, everything in my spiritual life that I used to call “faith” and “worship” was simply dull and stagnant in comparison to the unspeakable joy and gratefulness and adoration that I feel now. After truly encountering the great love of Jesus, I had no interest in the things that used to hold my attention captive. I wanted Him, and only Him to continue to fill me up. The overflow of this love in my life is also staggering: I now comprehend in a new light what it means to be able to love Jesus, and others, only because He loves me infinitely. (1John 4:19) He loves me in this moment, just as He loved me last year when I essentially turned my back on Him and chose instead a life of worldly, temporary gratifications. When it was my sin that put Him on the cross, his love never faltered for one second. He loves me now, just as I am, not as I should be.
Since I’ve grasped this, He’s taken every opportunity available to remind me – and I’ve taken every opportunity to listen. I’m enthralled by Him, and I want nothing else. Brennan Manning wrote, “Once you come to experience the love of Jesus Christ, nothing else in the world will seem beautiful or desirable.” And the more I open my heart to His love and His word, the more He keeps pounding home messages He’s probably been sending my way for quite some time. One of these came when I was sitting in church with two very dear friends, listening to a sermon about money and what it means to give to God our first and our best – because He has given us His first and His best. Immediately, I thought about Africa. I had thought about travelling there on several occasions in the past few years, but always wrote it off as just another dream of mine. After all, I didn’t have the time or the money... except at that moment, I knew in my heart that those were just excuses. If it is His will, He would provide the time and the finances; He would open the door. It is only up to me to act, knowing that He will make everything clear in His time. I had no idea at the time where I would go, or where to even research for an opportunity. But I just knew that I had to start somewhere.
So, one thing led to another, and I found myself using a search engine given to me by the USMA Chaplains’ office, hoping that something would come up. I instantly found several organizations that had trips that fit in the dates I was available. I reached out to about ten of them, hoping to hear back from one or two. I heard back from all of them within a matter of hours. One ministry in particular, Loving One by One, caught my attention. I read about their mission trips to Uganda and the different ministries that they contribute to, and I fell in love with it. I prayed about it, not wanting to blindly latch on to the first organization that I found. But soon, after talking about it with my mom and the two friends who encouraged me to pursue the trip in the first place, I remembered that God had led me to seek these opportunities in the first place, and orchestrated everything to His plan. Again, I trusted that if He didn’t want this specific trip to happen, He would close the door. It blew wide open. I applied, and was accepted, and I am continually astounded as everything comes together.
I cannot wait to pour out the love of Christ into the people of another country. I sincerely mean that. I think that in America, we are so content with our life of comfort and accessibility that the severe poverty of countries like Uganda becomes conceptual. This unimaginable neglect that billions of people live in has been reduced to a statistic. In our comfortable lives where we have everything we could possibly want or need within our attainable grasp, we are numb to it. But Jesus is not. He loves each of the individual human beings in the world with the same fervent, relentless love that He loves me. That love that would not let me go, holds on to them too. And now, simply because I am saying "yes" to Him -
YES, I believe that you love me.
YES, I believe that you never stopped.
YES, Your love is overflowing.
- I now have the amazing opportunity to be the actual hands and feet of Jesus. During these two weeks, I will assist in medical clinics in slums and orphanages. I will visit and pray for children in the largest hospital in Uganda. I will care for and love on the elderly in an elderly home. I will love and spend time with children who have cancer, as well as former teenage prostitutes in a recovery home... and so much more. I get to do these things. Just thinking about it shakes my soul, because the Lord has given me His heart for the world. He is showing me a glimpse of what He sees when He looks at His children. And the astounding thing is, as much as I feel this in my heart, I know that God's love for us is so much greater than I could ever comprehend. Our God is able to do so much more than we could ever dream of asking (Ephesians 3:17-20). He will change lives, including mine. He already has.
As I encountered the very real hurdle of the financial cost, my heart consistently rested on this: I am confident that the Lord will provide for my every need. I am reminded of Paul and his letter to the church in Philippi. Thanking them for their sincere and abundant giving, he writes, “How I praise the Lord that you are concerned for me… Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret if living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” (4:10-13). I’m also really excited because I can definitely see this kind of short-term trip being something that I commit to in the future. During the next season in my life that is about to begin, I’ll be able to set aside money and plan for these trips financially, which is such a wonderful opportunity.
I hesitated to write this, because I really do not want any of this to come across as boastful. I think that ultimately, God wants us to experience Him, to become aware of His love. He does this in different ways to different people. And none of what I wrote here is anything that I have achieved on my own. I did not set out to become a selfless person (and I'm really not, if it sounds like it). This whole trip is something that is completely out of my comfort zone. After all, it took me years to finally say yes to it! But the more I am aware of my weaknesses and fall on the Lord, the more He gives me the desire for the things of His heart, and following the Holy Spirit becomes intuitive. If you want to know more about the transformation that occurred in my life, or if you have any questions or anything at all, I’d love to hear from you.
You are loved by the King and by me!