Well, about seven months later and I find myself back here in Sydney! For the next couple of months, I will be staffing the YWAM base here, with a tentative plan on leaving for Kona, Hawaii at the end of September to complete YWAM’s Foundation for Counseling Ministry school for six months. Afterwards, I will join the team pioneering the YWAM base in Tahiti for God knows how long!
I’m definitely very excited about the months to come, especially since the last several months have been particularly difficult. The spiritual battle following my return from YWAM last December made it a trying time for me. The leaders of my DTS warned us of the following symptoms upon returning home:
- out of place
I tried my best for this warning to not become a self-fulfilling prophecy, but unfortunately I couldn’t avoid experiencing many of these symptoms. Anyone returning from even just a week-long mission trip also experiences a bit of this!
In addition to this, my faith was severely tried and challenged in my decision to leave for Sydney. God taught me to listen to His voice alone, but it was such a battle to get to that point.
I felt God has spoken to me about returning to YWAM after six months in America, where I would complete the Biblical Core Course and join the Tahiti pioneering team and staff a DTS there. So immediately after returning home I began to look for work that was high paying but temporary. That was the most impossible task, and I began to think that perhaps God wanted me to stick around for a while, sacrifice my dreams of being an international missionary and stay home. Not that northern Virginia is such a bad place to be in, but I’ve felt the international call on my life since I was young.
So I decided in my heart that I would stay around, lay down my dreams for now, trusting that God would fulfill them in His timing. This was incredibly painful, because at the time my trust in God was a lot weaker, and I thought He was just ripping the things closest to me out of my heart without care about what I wanted. Of course this is not true, but what we really believe is revealed in our circumstances and how we react. But over time, He showed me that it will always be His way and in His timing, that His ways are not my ways, and that I can trust Him that He does have the very best for me!
Shortly following this resolution to stay home, a full-time marketing job landed in my lap. It was close by, fit my job experience perfectly, and was high-paying. Apparently, they had already hired someone for my position, but for unknown reasons, backed out at the last second, making the opportunity available for me. It seemed pretty clear that God had brought me this job. But initially I fought God about it, knowing that it would be just like the other jobs I had after college. But as I read more and more about the company, its services and values, I began to think a bit differently. I went in for a three-hour interview and absolutely loved the people and the job description. The people seemed smart and I felt confident the company was going places. In the end, I enthusiastically accepted their job offer.
About two months into the job, I sensed God calling me back to the mission field as I had heard Him originally during YWAM last year. But I was so confused, not knowing why He would bring me a permanent position only to uproot me so soon. It just seemed to make sense that my decision to stay home was confirmed by this full time job I landed. But despite all of the sensible reasons to stay home, God kept stirring it in my heart. I got the sense that He was promising great things from this, although I didn’t know exactly what, and that this would be the first step of many to bigger plans and dreams than I ever could imagine.
Once I had decided that God truly was speaking to me about returning back to Sydney, the painful trial began. I received so much outside opposition in my decision to go which was painful, but my own double-mindedness was the real reason for much of my distress. It is truly a painful thing to entertain all the voices in your head, because you will never achieve the peace you quite want if you are constantly doubting in your decision. But the human reasoning and fears spoke the loudest, and I could not hold to that still soft voice from God. And so back and forth I went, standing firm in my decision to go back for one minute, and the next allowing my fears take over. I had allowed the enemy a foothold who stole my peace, and without that peace there was so much turmoil from within.
In addition to this difficult decision, there were so much doubt in my heart regarding God’s heart toward me and if He really did still care and could see me. I felt like I was aimless and out of control (because of my lack of peace), and wondered if I was going to feel lost forever. I often wondered if God would come through, and if His word was really true that His love never fails. I don’t know if there is anything scarier than to question or doubt your only source of hope – mine being Jesus. Of course we can take His word for truth, but when you actually have to come to know it through real-life experiences, it takes it to a new level that hits your heart.
I prayed and prayed and prayed, and yet there were still questions in my heart about God that I wanted answers to but just wasn’t getting. The feeling like you’re praying to a brick wall is miserable! There were times where I strayed, and stopped seeking God for days at a time, but Jesus would always draw me back. Because my greatest desire is for God, I really had no choice but to just keep praying, worshiping, and believing in the promises of God.
But in the end, God did come through. He provided me with everything I needed to go to Sydney – the money, vision and calling. On one particular hard day back home, I felt the overwhelming joy of His power as I sung praises to His name despite the negative circumstances that just kept hitting me. There is immense power when you can worship God and find joy in Him in the midst of darkness. But it was His Spirit alone that allowed me to do that – and I doubt anything really beats finding joy and peace no matter what you’re going through!
So having gone through this trial, I would not change it for the world. I learned the importance of hanging on to God’s word no matter what fear and circumstance stands against it and holding on to the peace Jesus offers us. I learned that He does care, that He is always there, and that He gives us exactly what we need to get through. The enemy will always be there, roaring like a lion and waiting to devour anything in his path (1 Peter 5:8), but God is greater (1 John 4:4) and always sees us through to the end. While it’s our job to declare truth against the devil’s accusations, God will give us everything else we need to get through.
I would rather suffer many trials like that one in order to refine my faith and grow closer to him than opt for an easier life with a lukewarm spirit! He came through for me in so many more ways that are hard to explain because they were so deeply spiritual and personal – but mainly showing me that He can be trusted, that He IS always faithful, and He ALWAYS cares!
Now I’m back in Sydney and know that I’m on the exactly right path. Living in community as a missionary is the best way for me personally to grow as Christ’s disciple. I’m excited to see what God does over the next several weeks that I’m here in Sydney!