This weekend marks a very special anniversary. A year ago tomorrow, I departed my sanctuary in the Northwoods to go back to reality and live life through the new lens of my faith. Last summer, I encountered the LIVING God at a camp in Northern Wisconsin, and I have not been the same since. A year ago, I was wrestling with some very difficult emotions and I was walking into the unknown with a tremendous amount of peace, yet with a good helping of reluctance and grief as well. I didn’t know how my experiences and my heart and life change during my three months at HoneyRock would translate into my every day life.
Though I would tell you that I have been a Christian since I was 5, if you asked, I would also tell you that my experiences between the dates of May 21 – August 20, 2010, completely changed my life forever and radically reshaped my relationship with God. A year ago, I went from death to life. I would tell you that God used a handful of people in a dramatic, powerful way and a countless number of other individuals in a more subtle yet just as equally impacting way to speak volumes to me about the love and grace of the Lord. I would tell you that the baggage I still carried from my painful childhood experiences was cut loose and I tasted freedom for the first time. I would tell you that God worked miracles – yes, miracles – continually all throughout my summer. If you are skeptical about the miracles part, let me when you have a few spare hours and we will go grab coffee and celebrate the Lord’s work in my life, because boy, am I still eager to tell all that He did during those months! His nature is so incredible and I was completely blown away when I encountered the God of the Bible.
I just looked at my journal entry from last year. I was struggling with a thousand emotions – grief at saying goodbye to friends that I felt a stronger connection to in three months than I had felt with most people over the span of a few years, fear of the unknown, anxiety over being obedient to what I knew God had asked me to do, fear that my family would not understand the change in me, fear that I would not be happy when I got back home, fear that God would somehow abandon me once I left the sacred ground on which He met me, worry that I wouldn’t see some of my dear friends again for a long time, sadness because I knew I could never re-live my incredible experience during that summer. None of my fears were grounded in Truth, yet I still feared. Yet in my journal entry, I found these words and was really inspired:
God is great. God is faithful, God is merciful, and God is love. I feel it so strongly. I am surrounded by His presence and I pray I feel it even when I am in the city and HoneyRock is but a memory. I pray I see His glory manifested in His people when I am far from raw Creation. I pray He may continue to give me eys to see so I may acknowledge Him always and see the patterns of His love and blessings. Father, you go with me and before me. And I will praise you all the days of my life. Amen.
What great faith I had! I remember feeling soooo close to God. It was incredible. There are countless prayers on the pages of my journal for that summer that have been answered in awe-inspiring ways. God has used my conversations from that time to impact my life now.
[Elizabeth] is really involved in her community and her home is really her mission field. I really want to live like that. Wherever “home” is, I want to be doing ministry there.
I never could have IMAGINED that God would bless me by allowing me to lead children’s worship at the Journey. Nor could I have fathomed in my wildest dreams that God would send me to Czech and connect me with tons of believers and missionaries there, including the incredible couple who mentored Elizabeth in her youth group 15 years ago and took her to Czech for the first time. She fell in love with the country and it impacted her enough that she told me about it and God used that conversation to plant a seed in my heart which eventually led me to Czech a year later. God is COOL!!
And now I am getting ready for my dear, sweet friend Elizabeth to get here because she arrives tomorrow morning. Could God’s timing be any COOLER?? I haven’t seen her since October, yet God has grown our friendship so deeply over the past year. In spite of the distance, the Lord has blessed us so greatly with such an amazing friendship that is completely rooted in His love and we constantly encourage each other with Scripture and Truth. And now, she will be here to visit my home and see my life in Nashville almost a year to the day from when I left her home in Three Lakes.
I could not be more blessed. As I look back on the past year, I see relationships that have been reconciled, new and old friendships that have blossomed and grown, the blessing of investment in my own community, a new awareness of God’s presence and sovereignty…sooooo much.
Yet I wonder if my prayers today are as bold as they were a year ago. As silly as it is, almost two weeks after being home, part of me still seems deflated from my stranded experience. Being stuck in an airport for a few days didn’t just do a work on my tired body and weak mind, it really did a number on my spirit. Though I joke about it now and agree that it makes a great story, I have no doubt that the enemy wanted to suck the life out of my amazing experience in the Czech Republic. And now, I feel like that experience is so distant. I feel like it was a lifetime away. And in some ways, it was. But I do not want to keep those memories in an isolated bubble – I desire to be encouraged by my time in Czech. More than anything, I want my experiences there to make me bolder at home. More than anything, I do not want to feel deflated and weak and drained deep within my spirit.
I desire the same life and vitality that I had last summer when I left HoneyRock for home. I desire the same hope and expectation that I held when I got to my hometown, a year ago this weekend, and dialed the number to speak to my biological father, who I hadn’t seen or talked to in seven years. I desire the same trust and dependence on the Lord that I had when I moved all of my stuff into a house downtown Nashville with a roommate I didn’t know. And I desire for the Lord to open my eyes and allow me to see Him at work before me so that I may fall at His feet in humility and called Him Adored.
A year ago, God took me from my training ground into the real world. And now that I’m still here, I’m wondering whether or not I am living with the same intensity and the same life-dependent faith that I held then.
I pray that I am. I hope that I am. And I pray that you will be living every day dependent on the One who created you and gave you life.
May we boast in Him and of Him forever.