Please strengthen me for the task ahead…

For my Bible class this week I had an assignment to read Nehemiah, and respond to it in a creative fashion. I chose to write a letter to God from Nehemiah’s point of view before he returned to the Israelites, and then write a letter from my point of view in light of what I am currently facing. Right now I feel many parallels between what I feel, and what Nehemiah felt, and I am inspired by Nehemiah’s unwavering faithfulness to God. So without further ado, here are the letters.

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Dear God,

A while ago my brother Hanani came from Judah to visit me, and brought the most heartbreaking news. He reported that the Jewish people who survived the recent exile are in great trouble and distress. My heart is broken for my people! Their beloved Jerusalem has no walls or gates, no protection or honor. Since I heard this news I have been fasting and praying, trying to discern your will for your people. After spending time with you I know what I need to do. I need to go to King Artaxerxes and ask for permission to go to my people. They need me to lead them to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. The thing is, I’m scared. What if the King says no? Or even worse, what if he gets angry and kills me? Even if he lets me go, I know I will face opposition. The people surrounding Jerusalem will not be happy with our building project. But I know this is right! I just have to trust that you will be with me. You are the God of the impossible! If you want the walls of Jerusalem rebuilt, you will make a way. Please strengthen me for the task ahead.

Sincerely,

Your Faithful Servant,

Nehemiah

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Dear God,

Back in October I was presented with an opportunity to go on a summer serve trip to Romania and Moldova. I really wanted to go, but I also wanted to be sure it was what you wanted for me. I spent much time praying and listening to you, and I felt you give me the go-ahead to apply. When I was first accepted to the trip I was extremely excited, but now the fear is starting to set in. I am going literally halfway around the globe to a country where I neither speak the language nor understand the culture. I will be traveling with people I met mere months ago, and to top it off, I need to raise $3600 to go on this trip. I know the money will be there when I need it, but I just can’t see how. The fear is real, and it’s eating away at me. But I know this is right! Your purpose is so evident in every part of this trip. I just have to trust that you are preparing the way. You are the God of the impossible! Please strengthen me for the task ahead.

Sincerely,

Your Faithful Servant,

Kelly

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Seeing Rejection in a Different Light

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I was sure I was going to go to school in Massachusetts.

From the minute I discovered the school I knew it was right. The historical sites in the area would provide hands-on learning opportunities, the new places to explore would satisfy my hunger to see more of the world, and the secondary education program would catapult me into my teaching career.

I told anyone who would listen about the grand adventure I was preparing to embark on. I had even planned out a clever Facebook status to announce my exciting plans for the upcoming year.

I eagerly mailed in my application, and was ecstatic when I was accepted to the school. The only thing standing between me and my dream was a financial aid letter. One fateful day in February, I received the long-awaited letter. Instead of containing the joyous news I was expecting though, it said, “We’re very sorry, but we are unable to give you the financial aid you need.”

Rejection stings. It doesn’t matter if it’s a job, or a trip, or a school, or a relationship; rejection is universally difficult.

When I received the rejection letter, I was crushed. I had poured my heart into my dream of going to school in Massachusetts, and any other school felt second-rate at best, and at worst, just plain wrong.

I spent a very tense month waiting to hear back about financial aid from the other schools I had applied to. It was a month of deep prayer and acute anxiety. Fortunately I received the aid I needed from my second choice school in Oregon, but while I was relieved, I was not necessarily excited. Little did I know God had incredible plans in store!

Oregon Mountain

The hardest thing about rejection is that it disrupts our carefully laid plans. We go through life trying to make decisions that will put us where we hope to be, but when rejection enters the picture, we suddenly have to rethink our entire future. The last thing we want to do is see rejection as an opportunity, but maybe God uses rejection to realign us with his will.

Now that I’ve been at school in Oregon for a semester, I can confidently say it has completely exceeded all of my expectations! If I had gone to Massachusetts, I would have never experienced the amazing community God has blessed me with, and I would have never met my best friend.

After living away from home, I can also fully appreciate how difficult moving to Massachusetts would have been. For me, Washington State is my home, and in hindsight, I can see I was not ready to move so far away from my family.

I feel a deeper sense of, “I belong here,” than I have at any other point in my life.

The more I think about it the more I realize that rejection can open more doors than it closes. The key is choosing to see it in the right light. Yes, rejection is disappointing and disheartening, but it also presents us with an opportunity.

My dad frequently reminds me that if I say yes to one thing, I will have to say no to other things. Life is a series of choices of when to say yes, and when to say no. We cannot say yes to everything that comes our way. Decision-making is tough, but maybe rejection can help us make difficult choices.

By forcing us to say no to good things, rejection allows us to say yes to unexpected things that may be even better.

I'm Not Called To Understand

Purpose

Pebble Steps

This weekend I experienced a taste of what living out my purpose feels like. I had a moment, standing in the middle of the woods with a group of people who understand a commonly misunderstood part of me, when I thought, “This is it. This is what life is about.” Everything, and I mean everything, felt so right. I was standing in a thin space where heaven touched earth.

Let me back up and give you some context. This summer I will be traveling to Romania and Moldova with a team from my university, and this past weekend my teammates and I, along with the team traveling to Argentina, went on a retreat. It was glorious! Twenty-four hours of unpacking baggage and deconstructing preconceived notions while building trust and making memories. I came away from the weekend glowing!

The amazing thing is that while this weekend focused on my upcoming adventure, I came away from it feeling like I learned so much about life. I have learned many valuable lessons in college, but the lessons I learned this weekend trump them all in terms of propelling me into my future.

That’s the thing – this experience is about so much more than just this trip. This opportunity I’ve been given is about learning how to better live out, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

I’ll leave you with the lyrics to a melody we sang this weekend.

The Kingdom of God is justice and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
Come, Lord, and open in us the gates of your kingdom.

He’s opening the gates, and I couldn’t be more excited!