Christ never ceases to amaze me with the way He reveals and reminds me of His TRUTH in my life. Maybe one of His most creative ways thus far has been the adventure He took me on last summer- also known as the Journey Internship with Choose to Invest. That adventure into the heart of Africa, and into God’s heart, was a trip Christ used to expose me to the deep love, compassion, and rest found in Him. He taught me that I can trust Him to be more than just a provider in moments of need- I can trust Him with every aspect of my life.
You know, I think a lot of times, when we KNOW that God has called us to a certain task, we take our first step assuming that His grace is going to make the path EASY. Or, if not easy, we assume that we will at least understand where God’s going with it. We think that because it is us that have been called to the task, the work that happens will be IN and THROUGH us. I know that when I began preparing for the Journey Internship last year, I never thought that part of my walk would make me question God’s character. But that’s exactly what happened! How sovereign is our God, that He would allow us to question who He is so that we can KNOW and TRUST Him even more!?
My family isn’t traditional, but it isn’t necessarily uncommon in today’s world. My parents have divorced and re-married, building their own complete lives linked only by my brother and I. Mixed beliefs, even within my immediate families, pretty much prevent any sort of theological discussion. The meaning of holidays like Christmas and Easter always depend on which “branch” I happen to be with. So when I announced to my family that I’d be moving half way around the world to spend the summer in Africa, you can imagine that there were mixed reviews!
From my younger brother, the response was pretty expected: “Why don’t you just take the money you raise for your trip and keep it for yourself?” “Why would you want to go live somewhere like that?” “Let those people take care of their own kids and feed themselves!” Trust me, a typical attitude for my brother, a man who resents God and stands for almost nothing except his own self-preservation. I expected questions from my father, especially since we don’t share the same faith. His response was much, much more negative than I expected. I’ll leave it at that.
And here is where God let me question Him. I knew that God had called me to go with Choose to Invest. He’d made it very, very clear. So why in the world would he allow something so obviously in his plan to cause so much pain in my heart and such a deep rift between my father and I? I felt that by choosing to go, I was defying my father, which meant that I was indirectly defying God’s will for obedience, right? And then I found Matthew 10. Starting in verse 34, it says
“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to turn
“‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law— 36 a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household. “ –Christ.
And so I went. I flew half way around the world in obedience, believing that the only change that would happen because of my trip would be in me. Knowing that, back in America, I left behind my supportive mother, my ambiguous brother, and my violently opposed daddy.
It turns out that half way around the world was exactly where God needed me. Not just for my sake, but for my family’s, as well. My experience with God was only one of the purposes God had in mind. While I was on journey, my angry, disinterested brother asked my mother every single day if she had heard from me. While I wasn’t able to call home, I was able to write letters. I prayed for my brother more in those two months than I had ever prayed for him before. And I wrote. I shared about my days, I shared my heart, my fears for him and my love. I told him that I prayed for him, for his safety, for his life decisions, for his future. In a way that sharing face to face had never connected us, my reaching out to him from Africa bound us together. Coming back into relationship with him was one of the greatest gifts I received when I returned home.
In the course of my absence, God worked in my father’s heart, too. The only constant connection he had to me was through our random blog updates and through Kristine, a woman passionate for Christ who also happened to be responsible for updating our families about our trip’s progress. My father read every blog post and every email from Kristine, with each and every one of those texts reflecting the passion and love of Christ for His children, both lost and found. Kristine’s emails to our loved ones reflected how Christ’s love should radiate from each and every one of us, revealing Christ to my daddy in a way that I’ve always struggled to emulate. And by the end of my trip, my father’s heart had changed. He was proud of the step I took, and at least partially understood why I had to take it. Through my obedience, and the faithfulness of Choose to Invest’s staff, my daddy finally saw the hands and feet of Christ. Because of my absence, God was able to reveal his faithful character not only to me, but to two men that don’t know Christ’s love. In order for God’s will to be done, my absence at home was just as important as my presence in Africa. And because of His work, relationships were not just restored; they were renewed!
In about a month, the Journey 2012 Interns will be arriving in Atlanta to begin the adventure God has called them to. Some of them are facing similar circumstances: discouraging parents, disbelieving family members, questioning hearts. Some of them have received more encouragement than they’ve ever received before. Whatever their circumstance, God has called them to this internship for a reason.
Knowing that through this internship Christ is working in more than just the hearts of the interns, I ask you to pray with me this summer.
Parents, pray for the hearts of your students.
Students, pray that God would be glorified, not only by your presence in Africa, but by your absence at home.
Friends, pray that God’s glory would be magnified in the hearts of those being sent, those doing the sending, and that Christ would be the object of praise in the hearts of those that the Journey 2012 Interns will encounter.
Pray with expectation, because we will see God move.