Dear Basically Everyone in my address book : ),
After an agonizing year of back and forths, hesitation, dodging, careful consideration, and tons and tons of drenching it all in prayer, I was accepted to Redcliffe College in Gloucestershire, England in May. But even after I was accepted I just wasn't sure and I was praying and considering other options for this fall-- because I pretty much knew since September that I wouldn't be called back to Concordia (there is some sorrow in that admission as I really began to find my niche there by second semester...) He began to burden my heart with the eternal as opposed to the temporal. The track to a level of success in the world's eyes began to fade in its merit. My Savior's face began to rise ever more boldly. He laid two things on my heart enduringly. Ministry-- a school that was all about that-- and Europe. So... I bulked. I was (am) frightened and overwhelmed. Unbelieving. And thrilled and excited. And scared and unsure. And... torn. Ha. Clearly.
I prayed and prayed that He would show me where He wanted me. I researched and researched bible schools, starting in Ireland and England because for some reason those countries are laid on my heart the heaviest. I prayed and prayed. I passed by the site for Redcliffe over Christmas Break at home-- at the same time having my first real sit-down with my parents to let them know how I felt God was moving in my heart. Dad was less than thrilled. I was less than convincing. It's hard to be, when I wasn't even convinced in my own heart yet. Mom seemed excited. She had wanted to go to bible school at Oak Hills when she graduated but hadn't been encouraged in it. I'm so thankful for Mom's encouragement, especially since dad's discouragement was, by all means, loving and in my best interest as well as being exactly what I myself considered sound logic.
So, as I was contemplating not only the idea of being called into some kind of ministry but also where to place my next "life step", all year I struggled with the thought of leaving behind all the ones I love. My family has been my most dreadful enemies and horrible foes (ooh, they'll love that line : )) as well as my most fostering environment and dearest loves. To leave them, especially with my first niece on the way, for such a far off uncertainty, was a torturous thought. Torturous.
And I'm such a faithless, untrusting thing as it is.
But He did not leave me be. Praise God, He will not leave me be.
I was in a week of intense prayer when the prospectus for Redcliffe arrived in my mailbox, but it was the state of being so prayerful that really mattered. That morning I had woken up to His face and had prayed specifically that THAT day might be the day He told me about my fall destination. Then I got the prospectus : ) So... I began to slowly, tentatively, fill out the application. And then I dragged my feet in sending it. So frightened. Of everything. Of obedience. Of His wild but good nature. Of my own not-good-enough-ness.
Then began proceedings with the school and every time we'd hit a snag I would pray that He would either take it all away and show me I wasn't meant to be there that way or make it proceed and show me my next step.
And then I was offered a place at the school. Redcliffe College. In England. It still rather seems like a dream...
But, still, I held back in fear. I prayed that He would show me whether or not that's where He wanted me by making financial aid come through if He meant for me to go. There's a lengthy, drawn-out financial aid process with the US right now as they're trying to establish it with their school. So, it was very iffy. But I told Him I would go if He made the money come through.... shaking in my boots.
At this point, I was also looking at a few schools in the Seattle or Portland areas and loving that idea. But Redcliffe endured foremost on my heart. Strangely.
Then, mid-summer, dad seemed to... have a change of heart. Suddenly he decided that if this school in England was where I felt God wanted me, he would help me out. Take out a loan and let me pay him back later. He'd get me there.
So... basically, finances came through.
And I move to England in about a week's time.
Shock and awe.
Now my next huge life decision lies in what exactly I'm doing this for. Initially it was a year off of my English degree to get a firm foundation in bible and ministry and just soaking up the truest of all educations. But perhaps it's no coincidence that Redcliffe College is a centre for missions training... I can't say much on this yet because I don't feel God's revealed it all in full. All I can do is step out in faith on what I do know, and trust Him to reveal the rest when He says it's time. In the meantime, I believe to the core of me that all of those who know Him are embedded in missionfields whether or not we're aware of it and that I cannot go wrong with giving a year of my life to learning how better to serve Him for all the rest of it.
I can't say I know what He's up to. But I know unless He changes things awfully swiftly, I'm headed to mission school in England for at least a year. In a year I'll acquire a Certificate in Applied Theology. In three, should He choose to keep me there, a BA.
Naturally, it's always on my mind these days.
On a drive down to the Cities one weekend, it was the strangest thing. I felt a sudden command on my heart to turn off the music and shut down the thoughts and just listen. So, I sort of curled my lip in an "okay, weird, but okay" kind of manner and shut off the music. Thoughts aren't quite so easily shut down. But, slowly, everything seemed to quiet and there His words came. Gave me chills. I felt, "It will be costly."
It will be costly.
As if warning. As if saying, "Look, Love, here's the deal. I'm asking you to do this because I know what's best for you. I know My perfect Will and see it all spread out before Me. But, I'm just going to let you know right now, should you choose to follow Me on this, I'm not promising all rainbows and roses. Sometimes it's going to hurt. It's going to be difficult. It's going to be costly. What do you think?"
What I think is, I'm scared! I'm small, insignificant, incapable. I'm frightened. This is so much more than some girl choosing what to do about school for the fall. This is the unfolding of the greatest adventure I'll ever know-- following Him. This is a huge step up that mountain of Myrrh and my pathway to forever. Here I am standing at a great abyss. There He is reaching out and asking me to jump. I could turn around. I know what my perception of steady ground is. But turning around means distancing myself from Life Itself (What good is it for a man to gain the whole world and yet forfeit his soul?) Or I could abandon myself completely (Whoever would save his life must lose it), jump into His arms and know throughout whatever costs (I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord) the deep intimate beauty of His embrace catching me (Trust in God, trust also in Me).
"I tell you the truth," Jesus replied, "no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or feilds for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and feilds-- and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life." ~Mark 10:29-30
There's a cathedral in Milan, according to an Amy Carmichael biography called "A Chance to Die", with three doors. Over the first door is written simply, "All that pleases is but for a moment." Over the second, "All that grieves is but for a moment." And over the main doors, "Nothing is important but that which is eternal."
I want to live like nothing is important aside from what is eternal.
Please don't let this serious side of my heart deceive you into thinking I'm not absolutely thrilled by the fact that I WILL BE LIVING IN EUROPE! It is truly something I have dreamed of. I hope to travel on breaks and visit Tiphaine (my foreign exchange sister) and places I've only heard of and read about in books : ) I hope to forge deep friendships with people from all over the world, as Redcliffe is a very international school, and be stretched and challenged and given outpourings of grace to get me through my weakest spots. I can't wait to dwell among the accents : ) And every single person I've been in contact with at Redcliffe is just absolutely wonderful... The beauty of it all can far outweigh the sorrows in it as long as my gaze is fixed on my Author and Perfector!
But, He has made me aware of what I needed to be. It will be costly. My heart wonders how much more costly it would be not to seek to do His Will but simply to settle for the safety of what I've always known. Somehow, that lessens the impending costs...
"In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple." ~Luke 14:33
"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it." ~Matthew 13:45-46
"Cheer up! On your feet! He's calling you." ~Mark 10:49
"God is greater than our hearts." ~1 John 3:20
And so, I write to all of you to share with you this tremendous bend in my life's road and beg for your prayers and also ask for any ways that I can be praying for you and yours. Orientation begins September 14th. I'm desperate for His courage and confidence, as well as His providence in letting my student visa arrive in time : ) I'm sorry I write such monstrously long emails : ) And, please have no qualms about asking me to remove you from this mailing list at ANY time!
I will most definitely be in touch...