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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Fear. God. Faith. Trust.

Written by Jeb Ellenwood:

A few years ago I was involved in a situation where fear was the force behind people’s actions, thoughts, and decisions.  For me, it was a very frustrating time as I did not feel there was any way to reason with or educate those involved as they did not seem to want to be informed because they firmly believed that what they believed was the truth, again, from my perspective anyway.  I’ve recently discovered what my “take away” was from that wearisome experience (and at times incredibly infuriating!).  Something in me made the decision to not let my fears take the driver’s seat and dictate my actions.

Last year I was presented with an opportunity to go to Uganda as a leader with the youth group I serve.  I did pray and think about it but not once did the fear of where the money would come from arise.  For those who do not know me, this was a H-U-G-E deal.  My thoughts often revolve around not having the money to do things, no matter what the “thing” may be.  My default line of thinking is, “why think about or consider it because you know you don’t have the money.”  So I don’t.  Most things do not even enter my thought processes as options when there is even a minor financial side to them.  Yet, last year when the missions trip to Uganda was presented and I began praying and giving serious thought to going, not once was I consumed with the fears of, “I cannot afford this.    . . . What are you thinking?! . . .    . . . This is crazy!  . . .      . . . You know you cannot get this kind of money!   . . .” and all other fears telling me I’ve lost my mind for even allowing the thought of going to Uganda to enter my head.  Not ONCE.  When I confirmed my desire to go on to Uganda last year, there was no fear in voicing that desire.  There was excitement and overwhelming joy in the prospect of me – ME – going some place that deep, deep down, my soul longed to go for such a long time.  Could it be that it would actually happen?

Nowhere along the fundraising process for the Uganda trip last year (2011) did I question where the money would come from.  At no time did I second-guess my decision to commit to going because I was overwhelmed by the amount of money that needed to be raised.  Instead I experienced, what was for me, a very strange calmness about the entire process.  I didn’t have the answers to any of my normal money questions.  I didn’t know where the money would come from or how I would raise all that needed to be raised.  What I did know was this:

1.      I believed, without question or hesitation, that it was a trip God wanted me to be a part of.
2.      I had long had a passion for Africa and the many, many issues that plague that continent.
3.      I just REALLY wanted to go, darn it!  J
4.      But most importantly, I gave it to God from the start.  I gave Him all my fears from the get go and told Him with no fear in my voice; if He wanted me there it was Him who had to get me there.  I could not make it happen, but God could.  (And He did.  Oh boy, did He!)

When talk of this trip to Uganda began, I did the same thing.  OK, so I thought Deb was crazy and out of her mind for thinking I could go two years in a row but once I was on board with the idea and believed God wanted me on this trip, I gave it to Him and let go of my fears.  (I did spend much time in prayer and conversation with God before giving the OK to Deb, just so ya know!).  The difference with this trip is I chose NOT to write support letters like I did last year.  I felt very strongly about this and have never questioned the decision.  As with last year, this trip is a complete and total faith walk for me.  I am fully and wholly trusting in God to provide the way for me to return to Uganda, a country that captured my heart from the moment I stood in the doorway of the airplane, before even stepping foot off the plane.  I am praying – constantly – about going to Uganda.  I am sharing with people about the trip, letting them know about this blog and letting God do the rest.  I am also doing things I would do even if I were not going to Uganda.  Things such as babysitting, house-sitting, dog-sitting, etc. and when asked about being paid I mention donating to the trip (it’s a win-win, I get to be funded, and they get a tax deduction!).  It has been amazing to literally see God working this out, right in front of my eyes.  God is providing.  He is confirming in me, that He IS there – even when I don’t feel His presence.  God IS moving.  God IS active.  God IS making a way out of where my insecure self sees no way.  How awesome, incredible and amazing is this mighty God I serve?

My heart’s desire is to serve Him and no one, or thing else.  My deeper heart’s desire is to serve Him through serving others.  In particular, those the world wants nothing to do with, is embarrassed by, is ashamed of, who has – for all intensive purposes – been thrown away because the world views them as nobodies and unimportant.  There are many reasons this could be on my heart, but the bottom line is these are all things I feel about myself.  I am a nobody, yet God chose to save me.  God chose to show me – ME (!) – His great and deep love for me by sacrificing His Son so I would be able to spend eternity with Him.  He CHOSE to redeem all the mess of this world through His Son.  How could I not WANT to serve Him?  How could you?

So, each day I do my best to leave my fears at the foot of the cross for Him to carry.  Every day I try to look to Him when I feel any one of my many, MANY fears creeping in to take the driver’s seat.  Every moment, of every day, I choose to put my faith in the only One who can meet my every need.  With every step of this journey, I choose to place my trust in my Father, because despite my weaknesses and shortcomings He will never fail me.  He will always be where I need Him to be.  He will provide for me.  He loves even me.  I know these things because, as the children’s song says, “the Bible tells me so.”

"When I am afraid, I will trust in You.  In God, whose Word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid."
Psalm 56:3-4a

-- What Jeb hasn't told you is that she is just shy of being FULLY FUNDED two months before the trip!  Praise the Lord!  :) Deb

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