I know that flights to the Middle East cost between $700-$1,000 right now from San Francisco.I know it because I dream every other day or so of laying down everything, selling my car, and going to actually DO something for these people who are being slaughtered. Though that's not going to happen today, tomorrow, or this weekend, I look up flights because in some way it makes it feel possible. I stare at the screen, I play with dates, locations, prices and I dream with Jesus. I have a small community of people that I know would jump on that plane with me as soon as we were given the "Go". Time is closing in and I do believe it won't be long now, but today I pray and I wait.
I wasn't always like this. In fact, I was far from like this. Jesus was sneaky. He peaked my interest in WW2 during high school. I read a book called "The Hiding Place" by Corrie Ten Boom and she became one of my biggest heroes long before I understood that God was reeling me in. Just a warning, Jesus likes to do this. You think you're reading a book, He knows He's forming destiny. I sat in a dorm room of a friend as she discussed her upcoming mission trip to Kenya. (Excuse the repeat story because I know most of you have heard it so much you can recite it yourself.) As she described all that she'd be doing while there, I said words that would come back like a nagging mosquito for years. "I'm so glad God will never ask me to do anything like that". I was very happy, content, and comfortable in my American way of life, with my American church, and my American ministry dreams, however God had another idea. That very same night He woke me up and told me I'd go to Africa. It was one of those times that as He spoke, His very words pierced my heart with transformation. Within minutes I was up on the computer looking for flights to Africa, which country I had no clue, I just knew I was going. It was over a year later before I'd go, but when I did I was taken to Rwanda, a nation that had been previously devastated by war and genocide. I could continue on with the full story, but to shorten it up, basically Jesus took me step by step into nations that were all too familiar with war and injustice. With each step my heart began to burn a little more, to come a little more alive.
And then the tension began. It was always difficult. I love both worlds. My heart comes alive sitting in the dirt with a mama whose face is worn from too many years of trials and war. Her stories pierce my heart. I sit talking with a rescued child soldier, a raped young girl, a child whose parents have been murdered and something inside me says, "I will never leave this place again". Then I return home usually for a time of crying, breaking, and hurting for the place I left, a searching has to take place in my heart as I figure out how to live here when my heart longs to be there, but soon I'm behind a pulpit ministering the Word and watching God touch bodies, souls, and hearts. As I watch Him open up a deaf ear, or see tears stream down the face of someone listening, I think to myself, "I must be the most blessed person on the planet". I have my latte' and sit across the table from a dear friend, a spiritual daughter, or a mentor and all seems right in the world, or it is in my world. I have no doubt that God has His hands in both, when I'm there and when I'm here, but these worlds they are so different. Which one is right? Which one is me? How do you balance a world of blessing and miracles with a world of injustice and war? Some pastors shout blessing and abundance, while others shout suffering and persecution. You can find scriptures to defend both.
My spiritual father and I had a conversation in his office this week about this topic and he said to me, "Jessika the elbow can't get mad at the knee for being a knee and the eye can't get mad at the foot for being a foot. We have to stop assuming that someone has to be wrong and accept the fact that perhaps they're both right." He later said, "You were born white, American, and privileged, the question isn't if God was wrong, the question is what are you supposed to do with it?"
Conversations with him always touch my heart as he never holds back to tell me the Truth. Just a side note: It's important to have people in your life that you trust more than yourself. These are mothers, fathers, pastors, mentors, friends, that you give the right to change your plans, correct you, admonish you, encourage you, guide you, lead you, and love you. These people are the ones that will look you in the eye and give you the truth if you will be humble and submissive. This father was one of the two I consulted with when I had every intention of going to the Middle East earlier this year and he looked at me knowing everything in me wanted to go, was planning to go, was ready to go, and he said, "not yet".
If you've every done missions for longer than a few weeks at a time you know that it plants a seed in your heart that just grows and grows and grows until it's hard to imagine life without it. Part of God's pruning and growth is learning to submit these passions, assignments, and dreams to His order, His timing, His ways, His leading. I'm learning to submit both of my worlds to Him. When/if I'm here in the states, when/if I'm in the nations.
For now I do my best to live submitted in both worlds, but actively engaging them both in prayer.
What passions, desires, and dreams are bursting inside of you? Have you learned to lay them down, so that God can take them and mold them? "The seed you plant does not come to life unless it dies" (1 Cor. 15:36)
Be Blessed, J. Tate