Celebration in spite of change that hurts.

    You’d think I’d have a good grip on change after going country to country every month for the past year;  Or living situations, or teams, or families.  You’d think my heart would have a hand on this, that I would be ready for each twist and turn in the road, but I’m not.  I still get caught up in the whirlwind of change, and most of the time I break down and ask God why things constantly have to be changing.  

“Celebration when your plan is working? Anyone can do that. But when you realize that the story of your life could be told a thousand different ways, that you could tell it over and over as a tragedy, but you choose to call it an epic, that’s when you start to learn what celebration is. When what you see in front of you is so far outside of what you dreamed, but you have the belief, the boldness, the courage to call it beautiful instead of calling it wrong, that’s celebration.” 
― Shauna NiequistCold Tangerines

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  When I was in month 6 of my race I was fortunate enough to have a phone conversation with my youth pastor, Matt Kooi.  Even though I have been out of the youth group for a while, Matt is still a huge part of my life.  He started telling me something I never thought I’d hear him say.  He was leaving the youth group, Michigan, and the country.  God had called him to Mexico to work with Spectrum ministries (http://spectrum.pastorvon.com/) a ministry we have been working with for 9 years now.  I spent hours on the phone listening to His story of obedience, obedience that he has been teaching me about for 4 years.  This man has taught me more about God, myself, and life than anyone in my life.  He taught me what a relationship with Jesus looked like, and he loved me exactly where I was at; which was messy, ugly, and broken.  Most of the time I’m still that girl, but he loves me unconditionally, just like Christ.  I cried throughout the whole conversation, knowing selfishly I was losing a father figure, a friend, and an advice giver.  At the end of August I will no longer be able to call him at any moment with a ridiculous question, meet him at the office for prayer, or hang out with his family.  I’ve never had to say goodbye to a pastor, or someone this significant in my life.  It’s a gutting experience, but such a humbling example to know a man that will give up his life to follow God wherever He calls him.  

    In July, the last month of my race, I was In Coleraine, Northern Ireland.  We worked with Causeway Coast Vineyard Church. (http://www.causewaycoastvineyard.com/)  Not only was this church incredible, but I met an amazing group of friends from the church that taught me the authority of Christ and how to walk in that. In Coleraine I felt more at home than I have ever felt in my life, I felt like I had finally found where I was supposed to be, where Jesus needed me.  I emailed my church and my two best friends and told them I was planning on coming back in September to do a youth intern-ship.  I went through the process of applying and was convinced I was coming back in a short month.  I didn’t say real good-byes because I was going to be back so soon.  When I got back I realized that I heard wrong, that the youth group at my church was where I was supposed to be.  My heart broke and my pride was hurt a bit.  I do believe I will eventually make it back to Coleraine, just not in the time period I had planned for myself.  

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    As I have returned home I have been tricked into thinking change is the only constant thing around me around right now.  My house of 9 years is for sale.  My brother is going to his first year of college.  My best friend from 5th grade is in a serious relationship with a guy I barely know.  This season is full of change, good and bad.  But as I listen to The Father he reminds me that change is not my constant, that it is not what I rely on.  My faith, my hope, my heart, they are all in Christ.  He is my constant, He is my rock.  

   I sat with a younger girl at youth group tonight and told her about how God never changes, how He is reliable and trustworthy.  I realized I was saying that more to myself than to her.  As the world spins, and changes, and rocks my world, God is standing there firm and strong, never changing, always constant.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.
-James 1:17-18

 

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