By God's grace, my career of following Jesus has been pretty simple up until this year. Sure, I was still occasionally tempted to sin and probably should have been working through things from my life before Christ, but I always had the desire to obey whatever God asked of me. So when He told me that I was going to serve overseas, I was pumped! Even when He clarified that the life He had for me was going to be hard, I was still excited to follow. I was riding on the emotions of happiness and comfort that had been the theme of my four and a half years of obedience to Jesus. No one ever told me following Jesus would be hard, and nothing in my life indicated that.
Then this year happened. Looking back, I can clearly see the warning signs. Just as the Old Testament prophets were sent to warn Israel of the coming destruction if they chose not to repent, these small glimpses of truth were meant as a warning to me if I continued walking in denial, idolatry, and self-reliance. But, like Israel, I didn't listen or repent. Things from my past that I was trying to avoid began boiling over.
I had a choice: trust in who God is and what He says, or turn back to the perceived ease and comfort of my sinful ways. One thing you should know about me is that my first instinct is to run when things get hard. Choosing to trust God and start working through abuse, manipulation, and neglect would be a difficult road. So instead, I chose to go back to what was easy.
I slowly started pulling away from friends in my life, consistently avoided small group, started drinking, sought out unhealthy relationships, and dropped out of my process of going overseas. I was spiraling out of control. I knew truth. I knew I was displeasing the Lord, but I didn't care.
By God's grace, this didn't go unnoticed. Ashley Chesnut, one of our Singles Ministers, persistently reached out to me. I thought my sin was as simple as the actions themselves, but she showed me that those were just behaviors that pointed to deeper rooted idolatry in my heart. God, in His loving kindness, had been trying to show me these idols and give me time to repent from them. He graciously started ripping away the idols I clung to.
Five months went by. I was angry at God. If He wanted my submission and obedience, why didn't He give me a desire to submit and obey? This anger, questioning, and doubt revealed my distrust of God's character. I didn't trust that He was good. I didn't trust that He was for me. I didn't even trust that He loved me. Yet as broken as I was and as far as I had wandered, I still knew with certainty that my future was overseas.
As I began wrestling with God's character and slowly starting to learn to trust Scripture instead of my emotions, I talked with Ashley about resuming my pursuit of going overseas. She told me that in order to one day be sent out by Brook Hills, I would need to go through counseling. In the flesh, I had a lot of problems with this, but the practical one was money. As a young single with a less than lucrative job, how could I afford counseling? She told me about the possibility of Brook Hills helping with these costs, which is something we sometimes do to help members of our faith family.
I was once again faced with a choice: choose to do what was needed to grow my relationship with the Lord and become equipped to go overseas, or choose to continue avoiding hard things. By God's grace, I finally chose to do what I knew to be right over what was easy.
Counseling has been tough. It's a lot of hard work, and practically, it’s dealing with everything I'd been intentionally avoiding for years. This definitely was the harder choice. But I praise God for the opportunity to be discipled. I praise God for the healing and growth I’ve experienced through counseling, that will continue in the coming months. And I praise God for the hard lessons I'm learning now so I can be more effective overseas.
As cripplingly difficult as this year has been, I have never felt closer to the Lord than I do coming out of this season. In His sovereignty, He was clearing out room so that He alone could be King of my heart. I've never seen so much of His character played out in real life. Because of that, I've never trusted Him or His Word more. I’ve never been more sure of His heart for the lost and my role in His plan to reconcile the world to Himself.
The opportunity to financially help hurting members is only possible when we as a faith family are faithfully giving to the church. Your tithes and offerings, specifically your giving towards the family assistance offering, go directly to the care of our local church body. It's just one way our church has designated to care for its members so that we are better discipled, prepared, and equipped to make more disciples. Apart from God's grace through your giving I would not be on track to work with an unreached people group next year.
Let's give sacrificially so that His name can be made great in our lives and in the lives of people across the world. Our focus in missions asks, "Where will you go?" But I would encourage you to ask yourself, "How will I give," so that the gospel can be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations. Brook Hills, let's be part of this beautiful process of kingdom care that leads to kingdom expansion.
This story was written by a member of our faith family who was so graciously willing to share her story anonymously to encourage us in the difference our generosity can make in the lives of others. In addition to giving to tithes and offerings on Sundays or online at brookhills.org/give, we take up a family assistance offering the first Sunday of each month. (You can also select to give to this fund at any time online.)