Tag Archives: missions

Grace + Peace > Strife. Also, rambles.

It has been awhile since I have returned Stateside. I have now come to a place (by the grace of God, and by said grace only) in which I can look back, sigh, and thank God for being faithful through the numerous tearful days and nights.

That transition hits you like a train, y’all – not the kind of train that you miss. Definitely not intending to say that is a closed door, either. Does transition ever fully come to a stop? My honest thought process tells me that it does not end as long as we live ever-changing, ever-transforming lives. Certainly, it does take form in different shapes and sizes. I could be really dramatic and seize this opportunity to use lyrics from an Ed Sheeran or Adele song of a long lost love as an analogy to describe how it feels when the randomly occurring, yet deeply piercing moments of what seem to be a hazy past life hit you through a certain smell, craving, or the sight of a what is thought to be a familiar face…alas, I will spare you.

In hindsight, I realize that I spent much time upon return in a manner of striving, scurrying, struggling to keep from drowning. However, no tearful season passes without producing some gem:

Stop & KNOW

In scriptural terms, “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).

“I do know that waiting on God requires the willingness to bear uncertainty, to carry within oneself the unanswered question, lifting the heart to God about it whenever it intrudes upon one’s thoughts. It is easy to talk oneself into a decision that has no permanence – easier sometimes than to wait patiently.”
the late Elisabeth Elliot, circa Passion and Purity

Striving in efforts to GO leads to stress, to anxiety, to an altogether unhealthy mindset and heart set. This is when having courage means reminding oneself of wise words: above all else, guard your heart, for out of it springs the wells of life.

Remember, steps of faith need to be steps of faith, not steps of _________.

Even in the stillness, there remain unshakable truths:

  • God is good.
  • God loves me.
  • God is working together all things for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.

Amen

Amen

Amen

Hold on to these.

This is probably an appropriate place to offer a disclaimer, or clarification of sorts. I have not given up on pursuing a life of missions. I am not waiting around for something to work out, nor a sign to be written out in the sky. I am, however, at peace with the current circumstances. Allowing my roots to grow in San Jose was not “the plan”, but it happens and it is happening for now. A missionary’s life looks different in every part of the world, but missions is everywhere because missions means as long as you are on this earth, your purpose is to love people by pointing them to the love of Jesus – and people are everywhere. This is what being “sure of the unseen” and the “wanderings of Waness” are all about. The most important thing in all of this, is to praise the Creator – without Him, none of what we do would need to be done because it is not about me nor you nor humankind. The point is to recognize the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

So, you better recognize. (Yeah, I went there. Sorry, it had to be done.)

Sing it from the mountaintops, sing it from the valley!
As far as vision goes, mine doesn’t go very far – at least, not without major gaps. I do feel a stirring that I may be moving along soon. Although, “soon” is a relative term. Until “soon” becomes “now”, I pray this for myself and for you, dear reader: let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful (Colossians 3:15).

When You Tell a Wanderer to Stay Put for Awhile

She might panic for a little bit, searching for a place to call home

In searching, she might discover plenty of options. Options that include wild and crazy, random ventures as well as the most normal sounding paths. You might hear the rhythm of possibility dancing in her heartbeat.
She might embrace this wandering of a different kind, this new adventure
She might forget how to string words into sentences – both legibly and audibly
She might lose sight and grasp of objective and desire
She might get caught up in a mountain of detail
She might sob and it might be ugly
 A little lot might come where that came from…
However, we know the story does not end there. The sun rises the next morning, the hours tick by, and more oxygen is exchanged for carbon dioxide. After acknowledging the ever-presence of her sweet Refuge and many deep breaths later, she might get up from the ground and do something…just to see what might happen.
It goes like this:
I boarded a plane at London Heathrow and hopped off at Los Angeles International with the last few years of my life in tow this January, quite uncertain of what would be next. Poetic right? New Year, new journey – or something of that nature.

The first order of business upon return, as it goes for anyone who was been away for a time, was to reacquaint with so many names and faces – all the way from down in San Diego and up to the Bay Area. Stories and smiles were exchanged as friends and family welcomed me back. Thankfully, I was able to attend the Calvary Chapel Missions Conference in January – much exhortation and encouragement was spoken to me as well as plenty of words of grace and peace. Some were so kind as to brace me and to give equipment for the shock that was surely soon to come, but no one could have thoroughly prepared me for what was coming without delay.

Some call this reverse culture shock; whilst others, “reentry”. Still more humans might define this as a season of transition. Whatever you call It, it is no joke.

These past few months have been a bit of a blur, to be honest. Just as I had touched on in the beginning, many tears were shed and many feels were felt. On plenty of days, I found myself lying on the floor with no reason as to how I got there and no desire to get up. The atypical day in which I felt particularly productive, I gave myself tasks and projects because productivity typically helps an uneasy mind. Sorted through my closet and got rid of some old clothes, picked up my crochet hooks again, climbed a couple rocks in the woods…all whilst crying out to Jesus from the depths of my turmoil-filled heart.
One particular defining moment, in the midst of all of this, occurred when I was visiting a church one evening. Everyone was singing along to this chorus, “Christ is enough for me. Christ is enough for me. Everything I need is in you. Everything I need…I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back – no turning back!” There I was again, choking up, on the verge of tears. Pull it together, Vanessa. You are in public. Stop being such a hot mess. Oh, but as hot and as messy as they were, these tears were much sweeter. Somewhere, deep inside the recesses of my heart, there was resounding affirmation of these words being sung. Surely, this must be true – it really is the only thing that makes sense. Heart, do you dare to sing of Christ’s sufficiency? Even if it can barely escape your lips, no louder than a strained whisper, remind yourself, “Christ is ENOUGH for me. Christ IS enough for me. Everything I need is in you.” Sometimes we humans make commitments that we do not cannot fully understand the depths of in the moment. That must be why we call them leaps of faith, right? Whether the commitment is to a life of carrying a cross and following Jesus until death, a marriage, a set of outfits for a trip, or a payment plan of some sort, you cannot fully understand the weight of it until said commitment is tested.
Decide for yourself. Will you follow Him? Through every and any season? Note that your indecision to follow is a decision to not follow.
If you decide to follow Jesus and without turning back, you will not regret it. Surely, you will be “ruined for the ordinary”, but who wants to be ordinary anyways?
The times that shake you up help you to realize the magnitude of your commitments. Somewhere, somehow amongst all of the uncertainty, I came to a deeper realization that faith in Christ is so real. Like, there is something within me that is so unshakeable, it cannot be quenched nor questioned – I know that is none other than Christ in me, the hope of glory.
Well, all of this following led me here, where I find myself again – learning how to be led by God in an unfamiliar land. It was like I woke up one day and asked “Well how in the world did I get here…but more importantly, what am I going to do now?” The bizarre thing is that this unfamiliar land is where I am from. The sights, the sounds, and the smells are supposed to be familiar, right? These are the things and the life I was supposed to miss, they tell me. I should slip right in and just tralala…right? Eat In N Out, drink iced beverages, and be merry?
The truth is, that It does not go so smoothly sometimes.
Some days I cannot shake off this heavy, inexplicable anxiety.
Some days I feel like I am flapping my wings, trying to find a place to land.
Some days I can hardly formulate words, much less – sentences.
Some how days turned into weeks, which turned into months and I am finally posting a blog about returning to the land of the stars and the stripes, a blessed land indeed. I do wonder what exactly brought me to this place of being able to write about these things. Was it that moment somewhere in between two and three AM, with a migraine and a stillness of heart that uttered the resounding “it’s time”, or was it the strengthening glimmer of the moon shining through my window? Perhaps it was a combination of these, accompanied by the rawness that these hours birth in a sleepy soul. Whatever the cause may be, I know that God can use a number of means to speak to a listening ear and to calm a wandering heart.

Not sure of what these next months will look like, or where this will take me, but I do know that my life is in the hands of the Maker of heaven. I am certain that the Wanderings of Waness are not over – not because of my will, but because of His.

The number one thing you learn as a wanderer is that you do and you can because your only true home is in heaven.

Lord knows I just want to be out “there” so I know the in between will not be easy, but His grace is obviously more than enough and I know that He has made all of the arrangements. Meanwhile, I will be slinging shots of espresso downtown and readjusting my sails to ready for when the wind comes to blow me away.

Relating to Colplay, Zinzendorf & deer, oh dear.

There I was, standing in a dark room made of brick walls. Hands, empty. Spirit, heavy. With no idea of what to do or where to go, I knew exactly who I cried out to.
“Jesus, I need you.”
Sincerity was met with sweet relief as I waited there, knowing the rest would come.
Okay, maybe this did not literally take place. I think it may have been a dream, or a daydream, perhaps even a vision…Regardless, it felt real and this depiction is basically the past month and a half in a nutshell.
“In her agony of mind she went to Him who had never failed her yet, and He gave her guidance.”
I read those words in a biography of Mary Slessor, pioneer missionary to the West Coast of Africa. The truth and the timeliness of it! To put it in plain language, I had hit a wall of discouragement accompanied by a lack of vision for the next season of life. So there I was, in the fog, crying out to Jesus with great desperation and expectancy. After seeking some wise counsel, I started to test some waters for direction. The result of this was finding where I will not be in this next season. In an unconventional way, this was a step towards somewhere.
Amidst all of this, so many feels have been felt and my tear ducts could not testify to a dry season. I mean really, how do you practically prepare to have your heart ripped out?  You fasten your seat-belt and hold on to the roller coaster of emotion commonly known as life – that’s how.

Oh and yes, I know, “nobody said it was easy. No one ever said it would be this hard.” Thank you, Coldplay.

So, we embrace the season and we press on – feels and all.
As emotional and confusing as these past weeks have been, I must not fail to mention that growing pains bear fruit in perspective, vision and heart.
It is easy to get carried away with thinking complicated thoughts and obscuring ideas in theology, missions and personal calling but really God just desires that my heart be devoted to Him and Him alone.
“I have one passion and that is Him and only Him.”
– Count Zinzendorf of the Moravian church
True theology (by definition) is all about God. The heart of missions is all about God. A pure, personal calling for missions is all about God. It is His love that compels us, it is His love that sustains us. This is why we do what we do. This is why our hearts tremble and grow in size and stature when we look to Him in all of His glory.
Now friends, as I spend these last couple of weeks at the Zichy Kastely in Vajta, Hungary I have some theology credits to finish up and a few bags to pack. From here, I journey back to America into the unknown. I intend on attending the Calvary Chapel Missions Conference (hope to see you there!), meeting with some pastors and missionaries, and reacquainting with dear ones that I have not properly seen in some years.
In a sense, I really do not know what I am stepping towards, but I do know that God promised to never leave me nor forsake me and He has called me to go and make disciples. So that is exactly what I want to do.
Options are way open and very present. I am in a unique place in which I am committed to no one, no place or no thing. So much freedom, so much possibility. I am only committed to what is most important – my heart is stayed on my God; He is my refuge and He has made my feet like the feet of a deer and set me secure on the heights.