Tag Archives: journaling

When God says Wait

Wait.

How about now, I mutter.

Wait.

Now.

There’s demand in my voice.

I can hear the whine of a two year old

In my prayer

But sometimes I feel obligated

To use a more mature voice when I pray

As if I can hide

All the vulnerable pulses of my heart.

I trust you, Lord

I’ll surrender everything

I only want what You want

I’m being honest, but…

But it’s just this waiting,

It’s hard.

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Daughter, beloved,

Wait.

There’s a such tension

In this thing we call waiting,

Because the Holy Spirit is still moving

Exciting places, unexpected ways.

Through open doors and illuminated circumstances

Except not in this.

Why not this, I cry

If this isn’t your dream, Lord

Then let it die.

I don’t want it if it’s not Jesus.

 

Not yet, He whispers

Except I don’t want not yet

I want now,

I’d even prefer never, I think.

I’d rather have to surrender the dream completely

Then give up my timetable for it

Then to wait,

Continuing a daily surrender of my perceptions,

A liturgy with a grinding, uninvited, glorious trust.

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Was it as hard for Abraham and Sarah

To wait for one hundred years

Without a child?

To live their lives

Pursuing God,

Embracing other answered prayers,

As the clock ticked on?

Waiting.

As hard as it was to carrying him up to that altar?

I wonder.

 

I sigh,

Today, that’s my surrender.

Whatever you want, Lord

I trust you.

Wait, He says again.

So I’ll wait.

when do you become a cross-cultural worker?

Does it happen when you actually set foot in your new town or country? Is it when you raise support or when a missions agency agrees to take you on? Perhaps it is when you agree to live sacrificially and people associate your love for the Lord with what you do? Or does it happen when you make up your mind and resolve in your heart, that no matter the cost, you’ll follow the Lord wherever He leads, regardless of where that is or what it may look like?

I’ve felt “called” (whatever that even means) to ministry since I was little. While there were little dreams interspersed between my childhood, including becoming a cruise dancer or an actress, my journals and memories are full of “all I want to do is love Jesus and His people forever!” kind of remarks. I didn’t realize that might mean overseas until years later.

I caught a love for the nations when my grandparents took us on multiple trips overseas, but it wasn’t until my senior year of highschool, when I went to Asia, that I realized there was a deep-seated desire in me to serve cross-culturally. I just could’t shake this burden for people who didn’t know Jesus. After spending time with a missionary who had significant impact on my life, I returned to the states convinced of this illusive “call to missions.” The call hasn’t been without it’s ups and downs, questions, and clarifications, but one thing is sure: when the Lord says He goes before you, He does. However that ends up looking.

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At the end of the day, I’m still not sure what this “call to missions” is going to end up looking like. As I’ve started practically pursuing and talking with missions agencies, financial aid, and other incredible connections the Lord has put around me, I’ve been simultaneously amazed and overwhelmed at how prevalent His hand has been and will need to be in this process. If I end up overseas in a few years, it will be nothing short of a miracle, considering the things that would need to fall into place. Besides Jesus, who even knows what His plans are for the next season of my life?

Writing this is interesting because I feel like it’s the sort of thing people talk about when they are sure – when they’ve secured an agency, when they’ve raised support, or when they’ve decided on a team, country, or people group. I’m basically sure about nothing, other than that I can’t ignore the Holy Spirit’s prompting in my heart and the ways people, opportunities, and wise counsel has almost seem to drop into my lap these past few months. It’s kind of crazy, but then again, what part of life with the Lord isn’t a little crazy?

Sometimes I think we do a great job of looking back and talking about the Lord’s faithfulness, but it’s often easy to forget reflection in the moment. I think it’s dangerous to think that I’m limited to sharing my life only when there are answers and conclusion paragraphs. This was some of my tension when I wrote 22 drafts; it might be easier to talk about becoming a missionary when things are more assured. What if I don’t end up overseas – do I look like a failure or an unfaithful follower? Like I can’t really hear or discern the Lord’s will for my life? I’m not even sure of what I’m learning or seeing in this season, so how am I supposed to write about that?

The thing is – people don’t just end up where they often pick their story up at. When I tell my story of coming to Wheaton, it’s a summary of how the Lord led me to that decision – the past-looking reflection doesn’t include all the nights of questions, tears, arguments with others, excitement about other schools, and pro/con sheets. There’s questions, tears, feelings, roadblocks, and diverted paths that pave the way to anywhere we end up. We aren’t always as excited to talk about these, often because they don’t feel helpful or important in the moment. But they are, because they remind us that the journey doesn’t always make sense or radiant a brilliant clarity. That doesn’t mean the Lord is any less present or that it’s any less significant.

All of that said, looking into becoming a missionary is an overwhelming process, with the reality of the fact that the door could shut at so many stages of the process. Recognizing that there’s a high chance that I’ll find myself wrestling with disappointment, unanswered prayers, and unmet expectations at multiple points in the journey. Yet there is also the reality that if this is what the Lord has, that going overseas won’t just be a dream anymore. It won’t just be “oh yeah I’ve always loved the nations; there’s some general regions that I have a heart for;” it will be a specific place, city, people, and team. It will be my real, tangible, day-to-day life. A life halfway across the world from everything and everyone I’ve ever known. Inevitably included in that life are nights of loneliness, missing family, seeing friend’s get married and have kids via Skype and pictures, and living a reality that many do not have a context for.

This season of praying, pursuing, and talking with lots of people about what my life could look like after I graduate with my masters, is full of wrestling, reflection, questions, and excitements. It’s meant meeting with lots of people, reading encouraging books, spending lots of time with my Bible, journal, and Jesus. Everyday feels like a new surrender – of my desires, my expectations, and my dreams – while simultaneously acknowledging more of how I was created, where my heart thrives, and places I feel the Holy Spirit moving. It’s exciting, it’s overwhelming, and ultimately, it’s just another stone of remembrance on this dusty path that I’m walking with my sweet Jesus.

The Lie of Over-Processing

Maybe it’s just me that struggles with “over-processing.” Or overthinking. Call it whatever you want. The point is, I think about things deeply. My brain never shuts off. It’s how I’m wired. Everything in my life has always has meaning, no matter how insignificant or simple it might seem. And that can be such a gift when it comes to looking at people and the things Jesus is doing in their lives. But like with any gift, it can also be used to hinder and distract me from what the Lord is actually doing. I felt something a little similar at the beginning of Sophomore year, thinking about how I press into my emotions instead of Jesus. I feel like I keep learning the same lessons over and over, just in slightly different ways. I’m learning and growing, I guess I just haven’t arrived yet. Then again, when did this become about the destination instead of the journey? My dad explained it as playing a whole game of chess in my head when I’m thinking about the next move: “if I move this piece then they could move that piece or that one,” “maybe I should move that one instead,” “I don’t want to move the wrong piece and regret it two moves later”. . . Basically a lot of what I’ve been thinking lately boils down to this: when I don’t process things with Jesus, or when I over-process/overthink things, it leads to the re-surfacing of a lot of fear. When I submit things to the Lord and He speaks into them, there is always a lightness, a clarity, and an “aha” moment, even if I don’t totally understand or like what He’s saying. I can tell if there’s a problem when pressing into things is confusing and overwhelming. When it feels like pieces that don’t fit together. When it feels like fear. I know it’s not the Lord when I’m thinking more about things than what is actually happening. Or when I’m talking more about things than I am submitting them to Jesus. People say all the time that we need to sit and wait and listen for the Lord. And that is so true. But waiting on the Lord is never passive. It never breeds fear or confusion. It always leads to freedom and life. His yoke is easy, remember? It’s the Enemy who would love for us to get wrapped up in our heads about whether or not what we are doing or saying is right, or enough, or really the will of the Lord. The beautiful thing about the love of Christ in my life is that it frees me to live. We are free to be human, continually transformed by His grace. We are free to embrace our failures because they don’t define us and they lead us to new places of humility. I think back to the “failures” of Abraham. Even when he made decisions without pursuing the Lord first, God was still very much in them. He’s bigger. He’s always been bigger! We have to have a view of God where His love, sovereignty, and omniscience are bigger than our humanity. Bigger than our emotions. Bigger than our fears. Bigger than my fears. Waiting upon the Lord doesn’t mean I have to sit and process until I understand everything. Seeking the Lord doesn’t mean I have to have all the answers. But, if I’m honest, that’s often how I act. We wait and seek with freedom, childlike faith, joy, and security in His love. IMG_4507

So what are we afraid of? What is my overthinking mind so afraid of?

Am I afraid that I’ll be rejected? Because I’ve already been accepted by the King of Kings. And if I’m rejected by people, it will be a place of humility, which will probably dethrone some idols in my heart if it means that much to me. Or that I won’t be perceived well? Well, that’s a fear of man and not God. If I’m overthinking what others may be thinking about me, there are very few more worthless ways of spending my time. Not only am I not living in the security of my identity in Jesus, I’m focusing so much on myself that I’m missing what the Lord is doing in the lives of other people. I miss the opportunity to see it, be blessed by it, and encourage them in it! Am I afraid that I’ll make the “wrong choice” or do the “wrong thing?” Then I’m not living in an understanding of the grace of the Lord. If I’m pursuing Him in everything, then I have to trust in His superiority and providence. While I need to be listening for His voice and the nudges of His Spirit, if I can’t read other people’s minds, how much less can I read God’s? I’m never going to figure out what He is going to do, so I might as well focus on seeing His movement and grace in the moment and stop trying to “process” what the next move is going to be. He never fails. He never leaves. I don’t have to be processing things to be seeking Him. I should be seeking His will in Scripture and in prayer, not in the circumstances of my life that I don’t understand. We all know that He loves to be found by those who seek Him. What an awesome God we serve and are loved by.

When I Trust from the Stroller

It was the appropriately coined “solo day” on Wheaton Passage, the transition retreat for incoming Wheaton freshmen. This was our final stop after a day of fasting, prayer, and silence. Another park, this one a little less beautiful than the one before.

As I sat there on the patchy grass, trying to keep my thoughts off my rumbling stomach and lack of new thoughts to journal about, I rested my back against a less-than-comfortable tree. My wandering eyes roamed around the open Bible and journal on my lap and eventually fixed upon a woman with her son a few feet in front of me. I couldn’t help but smile as I watch the young boy chase a squirrel in circles around the tree, his mom resting her arms against the back of the stroller.

And as I sat, content to watch the young boy’s joy and delight in the simple things of life, drawing parallels for my own need for delight in life, the moment was interrupted. Just as my my heart was settling into the sweetness of the moment, the mom came behind the boy, scooped him up, and proceed to strap him into the stroller. He began to kick and scream, protesting the abrupt end to his playtime. I watched as he pulled his shoes off, his patient mother picking them up and pushing the stroller away.

Flashbacks of babysitting flooded my mind. The boy has had his fun and now it’s time to go home. It’s what’s best for him. It’s about dinner time anyways. He’s probably hungry, although he was probably too distracted to realize it. In the young boys mind, nothing could be more wonderful than chasing the squirrel in the park. But he doesn’t know what’s best for him. He doesn’t see that the constraints of the stroller are bringing him to deeper places of care and necessity. He can’t see past his own little boy vision of what he wants and what he’s not getting.

And as I reflected on this reality, I began to write. . .

“Is that really how it is, God? I wander around this world, sometimes it leads me to discover something new about your world and sometimes it leads me to be a little too far away from You. I cry when you put me back in my spiritual stroller. I pitch a fit when I don’t get what I think I want. I feel hurt. I feel frustrated. I throw a temper tantrum at the God of heaven because you let me. But deep down I know it’s for my own good. I just don’t see what you are doing. Your delight is in watching me laugh and explore the world you are showing me. You love it when I delight in You. You correct me – always seeming to me, in the moment, harsher than it actually is. I don’t appreciate how much you love me. I don’t value that all you have is your glory and my good in view. I’m sorry. Increase my view of grace. Teach me what it means to trust you, in the things that make sense and in the things that don’t. Jesus, renew a steadfast spirit in me.” Friday, August 16, 2013

And two years later, I’m as convicted by this truth as I was sitting by the tree that day.

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A Prayer Journal Entry

Brace yourselves. I’m about to get real, real over here. When I was praying the other night, I had to have some Maddie and Jesus honesty time. And while normally Maddie and Jesus talks stay between Maddie and Jesus, I felt like I needed to share these. First, I want to let you know where I’ve been spiritually. I should only… Read more. . .

Do You Trust Me?

“I don’t know why it’s been so hard to trust You this semester. I don’t know how this fits with increasing my faith – it doesn’t feel like I’m trusting you for bigger things than I used to. It kind of feels like I’m going backwards. So even in that I have to trust that… Read more. . .

In the Stillness of Summer, He is God

My journal is sitting on the table beside our guest bed. It’s been mostly unopened all summer. My Bible sits next to it. It’s not much better. And there’s this tension, because it’s not that I’m running away from Jesus. But am I actually running toward Him? There was something soothing about the busyness of… Read more. . .

Don’t forget: the faithfulness of the Lord

Rereading through my journals as the semester winds down, I am amazed at how many times “remember” or “don’t forget” show up between entries. And yet, for as often as Jesus reminds me of the necessity of remembrance, I forget so quickly. Things like doubt, confusion, stress, worry, fear, all usually in the context of… Read more. . .

Photo Journaling Urban Passage

I’m running out the door to Spanish class, but in the meantime, here are some photos (thanks to Anna and Elaine!) from Urban Passage. It was an incredibly challenging, hard, grateful, and fun time with a group of 43 strangers, serving in Chicago and later traveling to the north woods of Wisconsin. More on that… Read more. . .