For many years now, I’ve kept some form of an online blog as a place to let my journals overflow into the hands of my friends and family (and the occasional stranger). It’s been a strange experience to see the places those once-private thoughts have landed, but I believe that the Lord gives each of us stories of grace, redemption, hope, and imperfection that are longing to be told to display His glory. Since being back in Thailand over the past few months, I’ve found that my blog has stayed silent while I’ve hashed out my thoughts through my social media accounts. Despite many of my posts turning into mini-blogs, I’ve felt the stories crying out to be told fully, and so this week I’d like to invite you into the uncut versions of my social media feed, in hopes that the words of the Lord find you and lift up your weary or discouraged hearts.
The Unexpected Waters of Obedience
Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus.
Matthew 14:28-29 (ESV)
Nearly two years ago now, I was jumping on a plane to Manila, Philippines, and had no idea where it would actually take me. Before that first plane ride that would begin a round-the-world journey, I felt the Holy Spirit asking me to release the plans I had for myself and trust Him. I said yes, and spent the next year of my life meeting and serving with brothers and sisters in countries I had never dreamed of stepping foot in.
The funny thing about obedience and trust and faith and this whole journey with Jesus is this: in the beginning when we’re simply dipping our toes into the waters of obedience, we hope that this is the biggest step we’ll have to take, only to find ourselves submerged and swimming deeper years later.
The taste of obedience, even if it may be bitter or painful at first, is one of the sweetest things we can experience on earth as it draws us closer and closer to Jesus Himself. And so, one step turns to two, turns to two hundred, and on and on until you find yourself in one of the last places you expected. For me, that place is sitting on the floor of a classroom in Thailand, wondering when in the world this became a part of my 5 or 10 year plan.
Spending time in churches and the homes of believers around the world has shaken my life and faith in ways I cannot begin to describe. Being back in a country that claims religious freedom yet sees anything other than Buddhism as an insult to the king and the country invokes a mix of emotions to swirl in my heart – fear, hope, joy, burdens and more. I’m learning though, that part of what makes this whole journey so beautiful is recognizing that I have no idea what’s going to happen next. I don’t have all the answers; I don’t even know all of the questions!
None of us do, which is why it is so important to embrace and fully live in the places God has called us to and placed us in. Living cross-culturally and living missionally aren’t limited to visiting or moving to foreign countries. It’s not about grand experiences or great photos, or even miraculous stories. It’s about learning how your neighbor lives – your neighbor across the street or across the globe – and joining them, walking the streets they walk and listening to the stories they’ve lived.
We consistently see Jesus meeting people where they were: Zacchaeus in a tree, the woman at the well, and more. Let’s follow his example and take notice of our neighbors around us seeking His love and acceptance.