things i learned from not going to east asia.

or, perhaps more accurately, things that God taught me through that process. that lengthy, often frustrating, confusing, deliberate, sin-revealing, wonderful, painful, sanctifying process.

first, i still don’t fully know what it means to trust the Lord with everything. certainly before i started raising support, as well as a couple times throughout the past two months, i thought i had the whole trusting God thing down pat. i knew that going to east asia would stretch me, and i knew i would have to trust Him in ways i hadn’t been asked to before. i was excited because, in typical fashion, i figured i could anticipate exactly how and what the Lord was going to teach me.

and, in typical fashion, the Lord had other plans. time and time again, He brought me to the edge of that alleged, half-hearted trust… and gently pushed me further. i thought i’d only have to trust God to raise the money; aside from that, i hadn’t really considered His role in the process. and i certainly did have to trust Him with the support. but He kept telling me to trust Him with more… trust His plan instead of mine, trust that His opinion was more important than that of people, trust that any new sin revealed was covered by His grace, trust that He is still good when things don’t work out the way i think they should, trust that His strength is enough, trust that He already had everything planned out, trust that He would still be glorified if my break was spent at home… trust Him with everything.

i will never pretend that i completely understand what it means to trust God with everything (though soon enough i might forget again). but i did grow immensely, and never have i felt so pursued by God in the midst of such chaos.

another thing i learned was just how much God loves to bless His children through the actions and words of His other children. support raising may have been extremely stressful, but i don’t know if i’ve ever felt so loved by God before. it’s kind of hard to explain. people gave money to support me, but it was their enthusiasm and words of encouragement that blessed me so deeply. i was supported by friends (who were in just as unsure of a financial state as i was), family, parents of guys that i mentored in high school, old acquaintances,  and church family. i was encouraged with words of wisdom, scripture, and affirmation. often i was humbled and surprised by support i received.

my favorite might have been a five dollar bill i was given by a young boy who i’m friends with at new life. it was accompanied by a simple, sincere note that opened with, “it’s not a lot, but i know God will use it.” i broke down in my car when i opened that envelope. wise and profound words from a fourth-grader.

God was also revealing a whole lot of sin in my heart. anger and frustration, arrogance and entitlement, pride and self-pity. i had never realized before how much i didn’t enjoy having to trust in Him. nor the extent to which i treasured the opinion of people; that’s what has historically guided my decisions for much of my life. He used conversations with people to open my eyes. He used time in His word. He used my time in prayer.

and throughout it all, He provided His grace. He reminded me that i will never not need it, and i will never not have it. it’s the kind of love i don’t deserve, the kind of patience i can never earn (though i try sometimes). but it’s absolutely a promise that is mine. a promise of a God that keeps His word.

i decided not to go to east asia for many reasons. time and energy, personal finances, wise counsel from people i trust. and it took a while to understand that this had been God’s plan from the beginning. but even now, only a week or so since spring break, i can already see the ways the Lord was totally in control of it all. and that’s comforting.

“and we know that God causes all things to work together for the good of those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”
– romans 8:28

“that people may know, from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is none besides me; I am the Lord, and there is no other. I form light and create darkness, I make well-bring and create calamity, I am the Lord, who does all these things.”
– isaiah 45:6-7

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