Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Just Call Me Peter.

God and I have this really neat aspect of our relationship where I ask Him to challenge me or grow me, and He calls me to something incredibly uncomfortable so I can learn that lesson. This past fall, He presented the latest part of this growing process by calling me away for the summer. 
To do what, exactly? Spend two months in Thailand with an all girls team of 24, going to bars and playing Jenga and Connect Four to build relationships with prostitutes while drinking a lot of Sprite.
More than anything, I wanted to run. I wanted to head in the opposite direction and never look back, but instead of letting that metaphorical whale come swallow me up in the style of Jonah fleeing Nineveh, I took a deep breath, packed my bag, and with gritted teeth I ignorantly told God, “You better know what you’re doing,” as I boarded my flight to training camp.
Two and a half weeks later, I sat on the balcony of our home in Thailand and felt defeated. I was homesick for the first time since middle school and found myself wanting to do nothing but stay by myself with Jesus. I didn’t want to talk to anyone else or be with anyone, and slowly I was finding my way back to internal processing from verbal processing.
It was in this moment of weakness that I remembered the words a teammate spoke over me in Romania last summer when discussing our struggles on the trip.
“You remind me of Peter. You ask God for something, but once He gives it to you, you look down at the waves and forget to look to Him. Don’t let the waves take you down; keep your eyes on Him,”

I asked God to refine me and make me uncomfortable. Good move, right?
My team gets labeled as ‘women only’ once I’m too far into the process to change trips.
I looked down at that wave.
Homesickness hits when the actual length of two months becomes a reality and I realize I’m missing my cousins graduation, my sisters birthday, and another family vacation.
I looked down at that wave.
A conversation in the bars doesn’t go quite as planned and our team gets shaken up about it.
I looked down at that wave.

Just like He did with Peter, I can hear Jesus as He takes my hand and pulls me out of the raging water,
“O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:31).
There’s this beautifully cliche saying claiming that God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called; that saying holds a lot of truth despite how quick most Christians are to repeat it.
God didn’t call me to Thailand because I was ready to go and had the perfect skill set for our ministry; He called me here to refine me and teach me so He can use me to speak His life and love over these beautiful, broken women. He didn’t call me away from home for the summer because I was dying to escape; He called me here to show me that even when I’m halfway around the world in an unfamiliar environment, He is the one I am to rely on.
Our God is a God of redemption, and even when He has to pull us out of the waves more times than not, His love never fails and His mercy never ends. How incredible is it that He chose me, an ordinary, sinful college student from North Carolina, to travel all the way around the world to look into the pain filled eyes of a prostitute and tell her she is worthy, she is chosen, and most of all she is loved? I’ve been chosen to bring life to these women and maybe be the only person that ever shows them real love, and despite the beauty of this amazing call placed upon me, I let my eyes slip away and look at the waves below me.
From here on, my eyes will stay focused on the One who gave me life and called me to discomfort, who with each morning brings new mercy and continues to romance me and cover me with His unending love.

I’m done looking down at the waves.