Monday, March 15, 2010


     For those of you who don't know, "hineni" is one of my favorite Hebrew words ever. It means "here am i," and, in its use in the Bible, it is usually associated with surrendering to God. 
"Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, 'Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?'
      And I said, 'Here am I. Send me!'" - Isaiah (Isaiah 6:8)
"When the LORD saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, "Moses! Moses!" And Moses said, 'Here I am.'" - Exodus 3:4
"But the angel of the LORD called out to him from heaven, 'Abraham! Abraham!' 'Here I am,' he replied." - Genesis 22:11
     You get it. Just as God revamped my understanding of Jeremiah 29:11, He taught me an important lesson in surrendering when I went to the BCM summer missions interview weekend. It was such an emotionally, spiritually, and physically exhausting experience, but one of the best of my life. Someone actually told me that exact same thing right before I left, and I remember thinking... Really? Exhausting? How? I already know where I want to go. There isn't much to it.
     I was very wrong. For those who aren't familiar with the process, you basically show up and divide up into groups. Its kinda like a group interview, if you've ever done one of those. Every group has a leader, and the leader's goal is to get to know everyone in the group as well as they can so that they can discern the best, most God-inspired mission to assign them to. Most of the "interviews" are done as a group, like ice-breaker questions that relate to your background, personality, and passions. There is also a one-on-one interview with the group leader that helps finalize your preferences- a list of 8 missions the interviewee feels called to go to in order of preference. There is also a box that you can check that indicates that despite your preferences, you are willing to serve anywhere.
     I made the mistake of going with the attitude and mindset that I already knew where God wanted me to go, and so I never planned on checking that box, even though our group leaders encouraged us to do so. As the day went on and I had more time to pray about it, the conviction started settling in. I started trying to justify my choice to limit my preferences. Things like... I need a job over the summer and so I can't go on most of the trips. Or that I am a pre-med major so it's obvious that I need to go on a medical trip. Or the thought of my parents not supporting it if it wasn't a medical trip. I was writing all this to God in my journal when I heard His voice almost audibly say something along the lines of... Drop all you have and follow me. Am I not your God who knows your needs and where you should go?
     Now, I don't want you to think I am crazy. And this may have just been the Spirit guiding my thoughts. But  whatever it was, it was enough to wake me up. What was I doing by submitting a preference sheet that only allowed me to be assigned to one of four mission trips, all of which were medical? I was (1) limiting myself, (2) telling God that I don't trust Him with my summer (or my life, essentially), and (3) telling God that I would love to serve Him, but only if I could be sent to those four places. How proud and unfaithful was that of me? Very.
     God knows my gifts and my talents. He knows where I will succeed and sew seed. He knows what I need in order to serve Him. And if I need a job, He'll provide a way for that to happen. If my assignment takes up most of my summer, then clearly it means that getting a job is (A) not necessary this summer to prepare for the life He has in mind for me and (B) is not as important to Him as me serving Him in a place of need.
     And so I said to my God, Hineni, and searched for additional trips to fill my preference sheet of 8 and indicated that I would serve anywhere. And at the closing service, which was SO beautiful, I placed it on the wall with the others that picked my number one choice, drove back to Rome, hopped out of the car and waited for the call. I was glued to my phone all night and all morning the next day, anxiously waiting for the call that would let me know of my assignment. Kaitlin and I took Isaiah (our loppy-eared rabbit) to the park and played parcheesi while we waited. It was a gorgeous day.
     Ironically, I missed my call because my phone had been on vibrate the whole time. I found out my assignment through Kaitlin when she got her call. I was assigned to Los Mochis, Mexico. There, I will spend a week of my summer setting up medical clinics, sharing the gospel with villagers, and educating them about health.
     I am so stoked. =]

In Christ Alone,

Monday, March 1, 2010

I Know the Plans I Have for You, So Come and Get 'Em

     For the longest time (and by that I mean... a little over two years?) I have considered Jeremiah 29:11 my favorite Bible verse. Over the past couple of months I have experienced so much life-changing scripture that it's hard to imagine choosing one as my favorite. But anyway, that doesn't really matter. I think that, for the most part, people tend to only pay attention to the first part of this verse (myself included), and don't realize the beauty and meaning behind the scripture that follows it. The Lord has convicted me and changed me recently through studying it deeper. Jeremiah 29:11-13 reads:
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."  (NIV)  
"For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me." (NLT)
     I think all to often I have looked at Jeremiah 29:11 for comfort and have taken it for granted. But just because God knows the good plans that He has for me doesn't necessarily mean that no matter what I do and how I act, that my future will be amazing and glorious if I call myself a Christian. God definitely presents a promise to claim: that He will listen to us and provide us with all the hope and prosperity we need. God also, however, delivers a command to obey. We must seek him with all of our hearts.
     As nerdy as this sounds, I first began to understand this in my Anatomy & Physiology II class when my professor was briefly discussing immunology. Our immune system is amazing. Really, it is. Basically, the immune system hinges on the concept of recognizing self vs. non-self. The immune system must be able to recognize what is not you, so that it can attack it (if necessary) and your body's health can prosper. It also must be able to recognize what IS you, so that it does not harm you. Your immune system equips you with the capability to destroy/prevent anything that can potentially cause you harm. Theoretically, everyone has the potential to live amazing and healthy lives without ever getting sick. Those are the "plans" the immune system has for you. But we do get sick. Everyone gets sick. The problem is, the immune system can only do so much for us; we have to do the rest. We have to take care of ourselves and be responsible. If we get sick because we're not taking care of ourselves and getting the vitamins/nourishment we need, can we really blame our immune system? This may sound dumb, but there is a point.
     The truth is, we can't. No matter how sick we are, the immune system is doing everything it can, and, technically, the mechanisms by which it works are still near perfect. The way we do our part to help it is where the imperfection lies. Now granted, there are some genetics involved here, and some people are more susceptible to certain conditions. Not everyone gets sick because they don't take care of their bodies. But anyway, I'm digressing way too much.
     The point is that, yes, God has amazing, wonderful, perfect plans for us. But He's not just going to poof them into our lives. We have to keep our relationship with Him healthy and alive, and take care of His sheep. We have to seek him with our whole heart, and find him. And by finding Him, we find the plans he has for us and it becomes second nature to follow them. His plans are still there no matter what, and they are still perfect no matter what, and they are still ours to claim no matter what.

     Its up to us to fall on our knees, give up all we have, follow Him, and take hold of the amazing purpose and meaning He has for our lives.

P.S. The LORD is sending me to Mexico this summer as a medical missionary. He is so good. More on that later. =]