This weekend marked my tenth November Retreat (a youth retreat put on by our church), my second as a married woman, my first as a mom. Each year this weekend becomes a milestone where I look back in awe that it’s already been another year, celebrate what God has done in my life and look forward to where I’ll be at the following November.
This past year has definitely gone the fastest out of every year yet. As we made it to retreat time, although we’ve completed our First Year of Marriage (you can read more about that whirlwind by clicking on the link) and had our baby boy, I felt like a youth again, absolutely craving this mountaintop experience I knew I would have with the Lord this weekend. Anticipation filled my heart because I knew God always does something incredible in me. No matter how big the flame in my heart has been, whether flickering or going strong, He has always breathed softly on it and renewed passion and purpose in me.
Last night in the service, our speaker, Danny DeLong spoke an incredible message about our calling in life. I was challenged to the very core of my being. He was talking about the Great Commission and how we are all called to be missionaries by default. He made the bold statement that we only add-on to our call as missionary other professions if we’ve heard clearly from the Lord. We watched a video about missions in Asia, and it gave tragic statistics about people over there and the broken lives that they lead and the lack of missionary presence serving there.
When I was listening to this, it made me feel like we should abandon everything, take our family and go do missions. Thankfully my husband was able to remind me that we have heard from God, and we are confident that we are where we are supposed to be for the time being. That moment though, really revealed a lot in me. Sitting in that pew listening to Danny speak with passion about helping people overseas shone a light into a dark part of my heart. This part was ravaged with fear. Questions swirled in my mind: What if we were persecuted? What if one or all of us died? What if we never saw our family and friends again? What if we couldn’t afford to give Caleb all the things that I think are important to a happy childhood?
I want my heart to be so broken by the Lord for the things of His heart that I would go anywhere. In that moment I felt that I couldn’t tell him “I’ll go anywhere”. I thought my agenda was surrendered to God, until I realized I have always subconsciously begged Him, saying, “I’ll do anything in North America, just don’t send us where we could die.” I hate admitting this since I have the one thing that can save other people’s souls for all of eternity – a relationship with Jesus Christ. If we have peace with God, losing my life should mean nothing. With all the emotions, responsibilities and love that goes with becoming a mom, it breaks me to imagine missing any moment of watching Caleb grow into the courageous man I know he’ll be. This realization of the fear holding me showed that I need to commit to asking God for courage to walk out everything He asks us to do.
After many tears, prayers and talking to Andrew over the last twenty-four or so hours I feel like I’ve reached the point where I know I would go anywhere if the Lord asked us to. I’m so glad that God can use these times to speak directly to me. God can speak to us any time, but there is something about getting together with other believers and devoting an extended period of time to worship, prayer and teaching.
I want to thank every person who has ever been a part of putting on the November Retreat at our church. For the last ten years, I have been challenged every single weekend to draw closer to God and examine my heart. During the toughest years of my life, as a teen from a small town, I knew that I could come away for this weekend encounter with the Lord. I have laid at the altar so many times, weeping, as the Lord whispered different pieces of my calling to me – and He is still doing that today.
So if you’re still exhausted from putting the retreat on, I hope that this encourages you to know that ten years from now someone might be sharing how coming to this retreat radically impacted their life. These events are incredibly important. Even though my involvement looks different right now because Caleb is my current priority, I hope I will always be involved to some extent, whether billeting or serving to see this happen.
If there are two encouraging pieces to take away from this post, I hope they are:
1. If God has asked you to work at something, do it faithfully. You may not see results right away, and you might NEVER know the lives you are affecting for eternity. Whether it’s putting on a youth retreat, serving in your community or doing missions overseas, obedience will bring about amazing results.
2. The Lord wants to continue to reveals pieces of ourselves that aren’t fully surrendered to Him. If we invite Him to do so, He will shine a light into the dark places of our hearts. A newly exposed area may be raw at first, but it will draw us into deeper intimacy with our Saviour as we humbly say to Him “more of You and less of me.”
May Jesus Christ reveal YOUR unique purpose for being on this earth, and may ours lives plant seeds of hope in others everywhere we go. May the Lord bless you for your faithful service to Him. When the going gets tough, don’t quit. Go to the source of strength, and He will give you all you need.