Starting in 2011, I felt the weight of my spiritual emptiness, emotional distress, and slavery to sin, and decided to drain my bank account, leave my career, friends and family back home and follow God’s calling into Youth With a Mission (YWAM).
I spent approximately five years traveling and lived in different countries to serve as God directed. Each experience was uniquely beautiful, and not a a day goes by where I don’t think of my days spent in Hainichen, Germany, a small eastern town near Poland, or my days in Tahiti serving alongside the Christians there, or the weeks in Israel that brought the Bible to life, or the many other places I served and grew in Christ. Countless memories continue to supply me with moments of joy as they spontaneously spring up in my mind daily.
Writing this today, it’s been a year and a few months since I transitioned out of the missionary lifestyle and moved back home to working full-time in northern Virginia. YWAM leaders taught courses on “re-entry” so that their missionaries were aware of and prepared for the challenges of going back to a more “normal” lifestyle.
I never really took this teaching seriously until I experienced it myself. For instance, I had been living in constant Christian community in YWAM, and that was suddenly stripped away. I never recognized the amount of the love that filled my life in living with like-minded, Christ-worshipers until it was removed. Of course I have Christian friends back home, but we’re not living and serving together as in YWAM.
The Monday through Friday, nine to five work schedule also came as a shock. Even though I had done this for several years before YWAM, I had become so accustomed to a different work schedule in the mission field (not to mention a different kind of work), that it became very wearisome quickly, even if forty hours a week isn’t considered so much these days.
Additionally, I still had to get it out of my thinking that I would ever live the normal life that most people live. For example, it’s more normal than not for people my age to be married (especially Christians), and though I’m almost certain this is in my future, I find that I actually really enjoy being uncommitted at this point. I also see that focusing on God is granting me more and more spiritual freedom faster than I would receive if I were focused on someone else.
But it did take me a while to realign my priorities with God’s. Only in recent months have I understood (again) that chasing after temporal thrills and happiness, whether it’s fun activities, people, money, etc., is empty. I’m now re-committed to making the main thing the main thing: relationship and joy in God, and making Him known.
That isn’t to say I haven’t enjoyed God’s physical blessings either. He led me to a great company where I’m paid well and get to travel on the company’s expense. Even though I thought I was done with traveling after doing it so much in YWAM, God knew my heart more. And now I get to go over all of Canada, a country I honestly had no interest in before, but now am finding so much joy in discovering!
God also blessed me with a car I love and a one-bedroom apartment close to work. He’s reconnected me with my former soccer team, old friends, and of course family that I missed while away at YWAM. He also led me to try new things, like Crossfit, a program I was afraid of before, that has now become another blessing in my life. I also discovered a new joy in dancing, something I never really thought I could ever like doing.
These things are wonderful, but again, it’s very easy to make these physical blessings something to pursue for happiness. They are still temporal, and God is showing me that only Himself, and the knowledge of His unchanging, everlasting love for every part of who I am, is what will bring me lasting joy, worth, life, peace, and security.
As the previous sentence suggests, God has been revealing more of His unconditional love for me, a love that will never forsake me. He’s not surprised by what’s in my heart. He’ll never be shocked by me and withdraw His love. Instead, in spite of the darkness I’ve allowed in my heart, He is fighting the enemy on my behalf because of Jesus’ atonement for my sin, and filling my heart with His light and love.
These recent revelations have brought my soul so much peace, a peace that seemed lost the past several weeks. But God is so faithful to restore.
Now the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ Jesus, will personally restore, establish, strengthen, and support you after you have suffered a little.The dominion belongs to Him forever. Amen.
1 Peter 5:10,11
All I can say is that life with God is beautiful. It’s not always pleasant, and Jesus even is upfront with us that we will have troubles, but all things taken into account, living completely surrendered to God is certainly the most blessed life I could ever imagine. I hope and pray that anyone reading this discovers their best life in Christ themselves.