A Necessity of the Human Spirit


If you told me a few months ago that in September I would be driving through the Welsh countryside, hiking the biggest mountain in the country and feeling simultaneously the most exhausted and most exhilerated I've ever been, I probably would've said something along the lines of "do you even know me??"

You see, I like to talk about adventure, growth and "living life to the fullest," but as a creature of comfort, I've always tried to find ways to do these things while still staying relatively safe. What I've learned over the past few weeks, especially last week, is that it can't be done. If you want adventure and exhileration you must be pushed, prodded and at times shoved out of the proverbial "plane" because how else will you know that your parachute works, the rush that comes after the jump, and the feeling of accomplishment when you land safely on the ground?

The Lord has never been so real, so evident in His creation and so obvious in how much I need Him as during our team's "adventure week" in Wales. I felt mentally and physically exhausted (not to mention paranoid, as I knew our leaders were watching our every move to figure out who fell into what type of team-role, how we handle pressure, etc.), but the incredible part about feeling completely unable to rely on your own strength is that you have no choice but to rely on God's!

Being in the wilderness last week, with others as well as alone with the Lord, was absolutely a necessity for me. I know those are moments I will never forget, encounters with the Lord that will forever affect how I see/communicate with Him, and growth that has probably (hopefully) changed me as a person.

I agree with what Edward Abbey said and encourage all of you - if you haven't experienced your "wilderness" yet, whether it be mental, physical, what-have-you - find it. Seek it. Don't fear what your heart and spirit need - jump out of your "plane," whatever it may be, and as helpless as it feels at times, try to enjoy it. You'll see so much more fruit in that one moment than you did during millions of "safe" moments and, hopefully, God will be glorified in the process!!


As He Pleases...

This past week has been full of learning and growth.

I have been pushed, pulled, challenged and realized how important it is to allow those things to occur instead of staying comfortable.

We have had 5 days of seminars, learning about everything from "Testimony as a Gospel Tool" to "Muslim Culture" and "Kids Training." We also each visited a different church with an OM staff member and had lunch with complete strangers (mine was a 15-member church...SUCH a change from my 3,000+ member church back home!) Every experience has put me out of my comfort zone, some more than others, and as much as the Courtney you all know would typically avoid these types of situations altogether, I'm growing increasingly grateful for squirm-inducing moments...it's quickly become my firm belief that it is the uncomfortable that produces change.

The most important thing the Lord taught me this week, however, actually has very little to do with the seminars I've been in but has shown up everywhere else and yet it still took me until lastnight for it to finally sink in...

"Our God is in the heavens;

He does all that He pleases."

-Psalm 115:3

God is sovereign over all and I am realizing how clearly that is seen in my life. Every detail of my life is because He determined it: where I was born, when I was born, the events of the past year of my life, the fact that I am here right now...all happened because. He. said.

No accidents...nothing surprised Him...all of it was His divine will.

People all around me have been telling stories of how their brothers, friends, churches, etc. were involved with OM and that was how they ended up here...it never even occurred to me amidst all of this that I'm here because my roommate gave me a book which mentioned OM's website...and that's it. That's not an understatement... that OM is involved in worldwide ministry is in fact all that I knew of this organization and something (ahem, Someone...) made me visit the website and apply for this program days later. Wow.

So what that means to me is He put me in this city with these people at this time for His purpose, not because He needs me, but because He is gracious enough to be willing to use me.

The Father has placed me, you, every individual exactly where they are at this time for a very specific purpose. So as I am learning to live in that, I would encourage you to do the same...we may not know or understand why we are where we are, but that's not what matters! Because the sovereign Creator of the Universe knows exactly what He's doing and why and that should be more than good enough reason for us to walk in trust and faith of His master plan.


The beginning...

Well...here I am! I'm sitting in the "lounge" with one of our leaders, thanking God for the awesome gift of technology. It's pretty amazing to me that I can sit on my bunkbed and read emails from friends/family before falling asleep (on my phone no less!), post blogs, check twitter, etc. It's good to feel like I still have some idea what's going on back home even though I'm 1000+ miles away.

Travels went smoothly, and I arrived in Birmingham at 10:45 on Friday morning to the smiling face of Atonya, one of the staff members here. On our way to base I quickly got to know her open heart, and passion for sharing the Gospel with people - something I hope to learn from! Since arriving here I've settled into my room, explored the town on foot, eaten meals, enjoyed community, etc. Only 3 of the 12 people on my team are here - the rest arrive today - so it's been good getting to know each other before the craziness begins! There's another team of 10 English-learners also here for the same amount of time as us so it's been really exciting getting to talk to them about the different cultures they come from, etc.

I'm not going to lie - I was so proud of my lack of nerves/homesickness, probably too proud because the Lord quickly humbled me after I got here. It wasn't until my roommate (and fellow-American) expressed her homesickness that I suddenly wanted to cry and jump back on a plane home! Thankfully the Lord is the ultimate comforter and He loves to show us that He is more than enough. Although I love my friends and family and the comfort of home, those are not necessities in order for me to feel joy and comfort. I met a guy who has been serving here for a year and as I remarked on how long that was, he said "no, it feels quite short" - instant perspective! Yes, I am at the very beginning of what feels like will be a LONG 4 months, but I know in reality how quickly that time goes...I'm hoping to soak up every minute instead of longing for the day I'll be on a plane home. Yes, I miss my friends and family, but they will still be right where I left them come December. In the meantime, I'm going to welcome this chance for the Lord to grow and challenge me. Today, I'm choosing to dwell on the truth of Isaiah 41:10:

"I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you,

I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."