For the last 3 weeks, I have been in Northern Ireland on a mission trip working to share Jesus with university students.
It has been hard work and very dry at times, with many students who are apathetic towards the gospel or were hurt by the church in their upbringing. Despite the difficulties, God is moving here. He has been moving in the curious eyes of the students as I tell them who Jesus is to me, He has been moving in my teammates conversations as they earn students’ trust and open doors, and He has even been moving in our hearts as we climb up the rocky cliffs on the North coast and experience His mysterious love and beauty in new ways. So in so many ways, there has been nothing unsuccessful about this trip… every encounter we have with Jesus allow others to have is a miracle.
Thankfully, God’s greatest teaching moments happen when our faith is stretched. So of course, God has been teaching me an abundance of new truths over the course of these past several weeks, and my hope is that He will continue to do so over my last couple weeks here.
Seasons of famine make room for abundance of blessings.
No matter what kind of famine we’re talking about (whether it’s wandering in the wilderness for years and years like the Israelites or a long season of waiting or wandering around campus for hours not finding students to talk to), each blessing we receive, no matter how small, has a really special sweetness like water after days of being paralyzed with thirst. There is something so glorious about those moments, when in our desperation we receive grace upon grace. Many times, these small blessings are taken for granted, even overlooked, when we receive them during a season of abundance. How sweet it is to realize that the small things had been blessing from the Lord after all and for the thankfulness capacity in our hearts to grow. I’m finally learning to let the cool breeze on my face and the little whispers of the Holy Spirit bring me to singing.
Eternal life is lived in the present.
You know those truths that you hear for the first time and it hits you so hard it’s all you can think about for days? This is definitely one of those for me. I have heard this statement before, but I heard it with fresh ears last week and haven’t shaken it ever since. We are living as much in eternal life now as we will be when we are in perfect, sinless and sorrow-less fellowship with our Lord one day. Although my sin causes me to turn my back on God daily, He never departs from me… He is so present, just as He will be when we finally experience His glory in fullness. As I move houses again and again and feel restless and even homeless at times, this truth has been SUCH an encouragement to me. Of course I don’t feel at home anywhere! My true and permanent home is already being built so lovingly and with such care by my Father.
I am still called worthy, even when I forget God’s promises.
Evangelism can be really, really hard. When wandering around for hours, trying to muster up the willpower and strength (when I should probably just be leaning into the Holy Spirit) to engage in a deep spiritual conversation with someone you’ve never met before, you learn what spiritual exhaustion feels like. And then Satan attacks, in all of his cunning temptation, hitting you in all of your weak-spots at once because he knows well that God is on the brink of a breakthrough and will do everything he can to stop it. I have wondered often why God would choose someone like me, who is uncomfortable with and doesn’t really like talking to strangers, is timid and whose greatest sinful fear is rejection, and has physical disabilities to serve Him in this way. Sure, maybe this type of evangelism isn’t my lifetime calling. But it is for now, and God has every intention of using me to grow His kingdom and plant seeds. The times when I forget God’s eternal promises and focus on my present fears and emotions never have and never will disqualify me from ministry. Romans 9:22-23 “What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?”
Throughout my time here, I have been praising God for the sustenance I have found in His beauty.
The Lord, the supplier of all things good and beautiful, knows exactly what we need when we need it. It’s sweet to know that He knows us so intimately that He knows just what causes us to sing hallelujah, and for me that’s all things visually beautiful. I see God’s heart so clearly in the cliffs and green grass and flowers growing in hard places and the turquoise water crashing onto the shores of Northern Ireland. God knew exactly what He was doing when He placed me here, and I know that not only through the encouraging and intentional conversations I’ve been able to have with Northern Irish students, but also in the extravagant physical beauty in this place that leaves me stunned by His glory. His heart for us is as relentless as the waves which mysteriously carve the rocks at the Giant’s Causeway.