Last week I was so excited to get a call from YWAM Orlando, checking up on my progress with my application. I told the young woman on the phone that I had sent in my application just about a week prior, and that it should be arriving any day. Yesterday I e-mailed them to make sure they’ve received everything, and I expectantly waited today for some good news. What I got was more than a little troubling. All of my recommendations arrived, but my application, along with my personal essay questions and the $35 application fee is nowhere to be found. Instantly I started going through the situation in my head: if I get my application transferred from the DTS I previously applied to, then they might get it late this week, and then there is still another week until I get word of my acceptance. THEN and only then does fundraising begin, giving me less than a week to send in $1,100 for the first part of my tuition. I could feel anxiety welling up inside me, so I just lifted up a desperate prayer. God, you’re cutting it close. Then I heard Him say, “do not be anxious.”
For some reason, I decided to go on Facebook, and the first status that I saw was this: “Self-reminder: God is in control and he is FOR me.” Do not be anxious. I turned on worship music to go back to reading and spending time in prayer, and the first song that comes on shuffle is “God, I Look to You” by Jenn Johnson. Again, I could hear my Father saying, “Do not be anxious.”
My application process for YWAM has been long and tumultuous, but up to now, I’ve been so calm and upbeat, because the Lord has given me such peace. I know this is His will, and now more than ever I must trust Him.
Tonight as worry threatens to give into disobedience, God reminds me not of stories I’ve heard of the great faith of historical heroes, but my close dear friends. My best friend Sophia had her plane ticket purchased, her trip to Russia planned, and with less than two weeks until her departure, she still had not received her visa. Now she is back in the U.S. with stories of how God greatly provided for her during her month long journey throughout Russia. I remember my friend Patrick telling me about his missions trip to Jordan last year, and how with much less than a month before he was set to leave, he still needed $9,000 for his trip. By the time he left, he was having to turn people down for support money! God provided above and beyond what he needed or could’ve expected.
Now God has called me to step into this sort of faith. Will I take these troubles as a sign that maybe I was wrong and this isn’t His will? Or will I trust that He has placed this desire in me to do YWAM now, and obey his word to not be anxious? There’s many ways this could go and God can provide. He could make my application show up at the Orlando DTS tomorrow. Or He can cut it so close that I have a day until my first deposit is due, and someone could come up to me with the desire to sponsor me on this journey. I don’t have to figure out how He is going to provide. I just need to trust and know that He will.
Apparently I’ve officially reached the age when I hear the age old question everywhere I go. “So, what about you Natalia? Anyone special in your life?” Part of me wants to be a smart-alec and answer, “Why, yes! Jesus is pretty special to me! There’s also my parents, my brother, and of course my best friend is quite special, too!” However, I refrain from such a sarcastic answer because I can never think of this witty response in time, and I don’t want to offend anyone.
Yesterday I was asked this twice in one night. I do believe it’s a record thus far! At first I answered my childhood friend, telling her I am unconcerned with being in a relationship right now. She inquired, “You don’t want a boyfriend?” What I said next stuck with me the rest of the night, not ever realizing before what peace God has truly given me regarding my singleness. “It’s not that I don’t want a boyfriend. If God brought one at this very moment, I’d be happy and welcome him into my life. But it won’t necessarily make me any happier than I am right now. I’ll be just as happy with one as I am without one.” Later that night as I went to get some frozen yogurt with this friend of mine and our moms, I heard her mom ask mine if I was engaging in any sort of relationship with a guy. I couldn’t have said it any better than my mom did. She told my godmother (as I call her), that I have never wanted to date around, and that once a man pursues me, and I see that he is a godly man, ready to walk in his calling and lead me as his wife, then I will seriously consider entering into a relationship with him. Following my mom’s eloquent explanation, I added a simple and true statement: I am in no rush.
It seems as though the enemy has been vigorously trying to attack me with loneliness and dissatisfaction with being single this weekend. My dad telling me every hour or so that I need a boyfriend and my mom asking me about some of my male friends has threatened to disrupt the peace I have in God and this season of my life. In his grace and loving-kindness, last night He gave me the perfect words to reaffirm this satisfaction He has granted me in Himself: having a boyfriend or a husband will not necessarily make me any happier than I am now.
God has dealt a lot with lust in my life in the past month and a half. Girls, lust is NOT just a guy problem. I’ve known this for a few years, being one of the few women who struggle with lust visually, but I wasn’t aware at all how deep it ran in my heart. This awareness and conviction was brought on by my desire to see Magic Mike. I won’t talk about that movie, because it would be another post in itself. The Holy Spirit basically asked me, “What are you doing? What good can come of seeing this movie?” I realized this was something much deeper, and through an intense week of praying, reading and listening to God, He hit the root of the issue of lust. Lust arises when we believe that something or someone else can give us more satisfaction than God. For me that meant I believed I could find more satisfaction in having a good looking, muscular man. My loneliness could be better satisfied in a man’s arms than in my Father’s arms. My desires for marriage were completely selfish, and consequently setting up any future relationships for failure. But God did something beautiful! He gave me truth in the scriptures about satisfaction in Him. Not only that, He met with me, and I saw then that my soul truly longs for Him. He spoke to me and my heart was revived and full. I remember writing in my journal, “Truly I am sustained by every word that proceeds from your mouth. I can’t make it through the day without hearing from You first.”
For the first time in my life, I have not only found “fullness of joy” (Ps 16:11) and satisfaction in God’s presence. I have realized my desperate need for His presence, knowing that nothing can ever fill me and satisfy me like Him. Like David I can honestly say, “my soul longs, yes faints for the courts of the LORD” (Ps 84:2). Do I desire to get married? Yes! I’m not walking around with the illusion that I have to suppress this desire and think that when I don’t want it, it’ll happen. I do want it, and I know that when it does happen, it’ll be another added joy and blessing in my life. It won’t make me any happier than I am now, because my happiness, FINALLY, isn’t based on my circumstances. My fulfillment is found every morning when I sit at the feet of Jesus, and every day as God is continually with me.
“We have found that acquiring information outside of rooted relationships turn immature Christians into the theology police. And nobody likes the theology police. When that sort of doctrinal arrogance takes over, people end up despising doctrine because they can’t see the beauty of it from the beauty of reconciled relationships.” - Matt Chandler
Fall 2010 I found myself sitting in an International Relations class, as well as a class about contemporary world issues. That summer I had decided not to attend college, and was in the process of applying to a discipleship training school with Youth With A Mission in Brazil. God had other plans for me, apparently. While on a trip to the community college with a friend, I had an urge to sign up for classes. The next day I went back and signed up for the two classes I found the most interesting and started 3 days later.
It just so happened to be when Egyptians decided to revolt against their leader, Hosni Mubarak, and when Israel entered into peace talks with Palestine once again. My classes were full of lively discussions, and sometimes heated debates, mostly revolving around the Middle East. One day as I was watching the world news,— to be better informed and not look like an idiot, of course— I saw images of the riots and revolution in Egypt, and my heart shattered. I remember crying out to God, asking Him why they don’t see that a new political leader won’t bring any lasting change. Over the course of my fall semester I learned about the entire history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. (What wasn’t taught, however, was how this conflict actually dates back to the times of the Bible.) There were also many terrorist bombings in Afghanistan and even Iraq, Yemen started having increasing turmoil, and Iran started becoming more hostile towards the U.S. I found myself on my knees a lot. I had never had such a burden for the Middle East; in fact, I believed I would be a missionary in Brazil and maybe Africa. God not only started drawing my heart to the Middle East, but began showing me that evidence of this calling in my life has been around since I was a little girl, around 6 years old.
Since fall 2010, the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks have failed, Iran has threatened to attack Israel, Egypt has rioted again, Yemen’s state of affairs has grown increasingly violatile, Libya has gone through a revolution, and now Syria has entered into one. Last night I watched reports of the situation in Syria, and I could feel tears welling up inside. All I could think was, “They want change so desperately, but this is not the change they truly long for.” People, even innocent civilians, are dying for something that may bring satisfaction for a few years, maybe a decade at best. Every time I’d heard Damascus mentioned, I would think about Paul and how he was converted on the road to Damascus. The place where a terrorist was converted and brought into a life of proclaiming the gospel is now being taken over and ravaged by terrorists. While I was trying to fall asleep last night, I felt restless thinking about Syria and these war torn countries in the Middle East. All I could do was pray and cry out for them. I found myself pleading, “Please God, send someone, anyone, to give them the good news. Any way they can get into the country, make it happen!” Right now Syria has one doctor for a population of 700, 000 people. He has to treat government soldiers, rebel soldiers, and civilians that get caught in attacks. What if God made a way for a doctor to go in and lend a hand in treating the wounded? He or she could show Christ’s love and find a door to share the gospel through medical service. I long to go to Syria, or any war torn country. Even if all I do there is find a spot to provide a hide out and safe haven for civilian children and women. Ultimately I desire to share with them the good news of Jesus Christ, but it can start with a simply act of love and service.
One of my heroes is Amy Carmichael. I remember reading about how she grew up wishing she had blonde hair and blue eyes, like most of her peers in Northern Ireland. She would earnestly pray for God to change her eye color from dark brown. I can relate to this, having dark brown eyes myself. When she became a missionary in India, she discovered that God had designed everything about her, down to her eye and hair color, to accomplish what God had purposed for her life. Because of Amy’s dark hair and eyes, she was able to rub mud on her face (to give her dark skin like the Indians) and blend into meetings in the temples, where they would sell children into slavery, in order to rescue them. Amy Carmichael took helpless children and gave them freedom and hope, and later opened an orphanage for them. Last night, I thought a lot about her, and thought, “if I could only help the children, and those who can’t help themselves.
This all may sound like a fantasy to whoever is reading this. Yes, I have considered that all my dreams and hopes for these nations are easier said than done. I know that getting into many Middle Eastern countries right now is nearly impossible, never mind one that is in the middle of a civil war. Seeing as how the Bible promises that unrest and wars will only get worse before Jesus comes, I also know that by the time God sends me out, getting into the Middle East will be even more difficult than now. Finding a place and an opportunity to serve in the nations will be nearly, if not completely, impossible. But here is what I also know: God has called me to the 10/40 window. More specifically, He has called me to nations in turmoil, especially muslim nations. People have looked at me like I am crazy, reminded me how dangerous it is, and reiterated the great chance of martyrdom, (only they did not say it as eloquently as calling it martyrdom). That’s okay, because everything they’ve told me, God has already told me, but he didn’t stop there. God has given me a heart for the impossible, but He has reminded me that He is a God who loves doing the impossible.