I think it’s funny how different life can be from one moment to the next. Things can change so easily and so quickly and there is usually little room for preparedness. An entire summer has passed since the last time I felt inspired enough to put my fingers to the keys, and I can easily and happily say that I feel like a new season has come upon me–and it’s a good one.
Somewhere on the edge of downtown Edinburgh there’s this amazing place called Faith Mission Bible College. They have about 20 or so students in various levels of education and from all over the UK and Ireland, and here they become a family. It’s an amazing thing to see. They study the Word together, they eat together, they serve together, and they pray together–and boy do they pray. And I have the great privilege of spending three weeks here studying with a small group of students who will be going into full time ministry just like me. The privilege is great for so many reasons; from the staff’s commitment to spiritual growth to the way in which the students show a vested interested in each others lives, this place is different.
A week ago I got on a plane and flew to Dublin, Ireland with all my worldly possessions (save for the handful of bins I could leave at home). I arrived with a 2 year visa and a dream of serving in Ireland with Faith Mission, an organization that is completely dedicated to the spreading of the Gospel and advancing the Kingdom of God. As some of you know, I’ve been planning for this for about a year now. The expectations were high and the stress even higher. And a funny thing happened–I immediately felt homesick as soon as I got here. I’ve been longing for Ireland for so long, dreaming of being where my heart feels at home, and there I was sitting on my bed crying my eyes out. Every flaw I saw in myself was amplified and every doubt I could have in my own abilities was crashing against me like a stormy sea. I was up half the night on Skype with my lovely, patient boyfriend, and I didn’t understand why I was feeling so torn up inside. He gave me some of the best advice one could give: pray and bring all those things to the Lord, who’s always waiting and listening.
So I tried. But I didn’t even feel like I could. I felt distant and unsure of myself. How could I bring all these fears and questions before the Lord? I mean, I’m meant to be a missionary for goodness sake! I’m supposed to be more spiritual than this. I’m supposed to have my stuff together. How can I possibly lead others to the Lord when I don’t even feel strong enough to pray to Him?
It was a couple of days before I could shake the enormous inadequacy I was feeling. It was after arriving here in Scotland, at FMBC, that I started to realize a couple of very important things. I am inadequate. On my own, I am a failure. In my own strength, I can never do enough. For my own sake, I will never have it together. Myself and the other two students who are in my program were assigned a couple of lectures to listen to from John Coe, who heads up ISF (Institute for Spiritual Formation at Biola University) and it was in his words that I heard a description of myself. I’ve become a sort of “moral Christian”. Moral in the sense that I try to tidy up my life and be better for God in my own strength and for my own benefit. I don’t come honestly before Him, I just make everything presentable enough to come to Him with my laundry list of things He could do for me. At the root of it, I don’t believe that God loves me even in my “badness”. In fact, I don’t believe that anyone can or would love me at my worst. But this isn’t the case. We believe as Christians that God loves completely and perfectly, as it’s literally who He is. And that means even when we’re messed up and things aren’t completely together. That means even when we’re in our sin. That means even when we don’t feel like loving or being loved.
And I was challenged more than I’ve ever been before to allow myself to do as Teresa of Avila suggested: invite God to sit with you in your weeds. To allow God into every facet of my soul and see all the things I foolishly think I can hide from Him. And when I allow Him to sanctify and work out all of those things in me that cause me to fear, I can grow. I can stop being choked by the lies of the Enemy, by my own humanness, by the sins I won’t let Him near. He died for all of it already–He knows more than anyone else that I desperately need Him.
And I think you can agree that the guilt and the shame is too much to bear.
So stop trying to.
His yoke is easy and His burden is light.