Welcome back to the blog! Today I’ll be sharing part 2 of my mission trip recap 🙂
Last week I wrote about the importance of prayer, because we see only the immediate but God sees the bigger picture. He is able to work out divine appointments at just the right time, even when it seems like nothing is happening or we’re in the wrong place.
I went to NYC partly because it was a required internship for my degree, but also because I wanted to go. I’d always wanted to participate in a mission trip, experience the city, and get to know my freshman class (now rising sophomore class) better.
I really did have a lot of fun, from trying new foods to seeing new things to meeting new people. We had great moments, like ministering to the people I talked about last week, or going to a prayer meeting at the Brooklyn Tabernacle, or walking the Brooklyn Bridge in a downpour thunderstorm (that was the best part).
But we also had low moments. There were moments of anxiety from a language barrier, moments of uncertainty in an unfamiliar atmosphere (like the Islamic Mosque or Hindu Temple), and moments of getting lost because Google Maps couldn’t decide which way the subway was.
One of my prayers before I left home was that I would have divine appointments–in other words, be in the right place at the right time with the right vision. However, it was usually hard to tell if my experiences met my requirements for a “divine appointment,” because I didn’t have the privilege of seeing the fruit of most of my encounters. They were just ordinary, every day conversations.
I was kind of discouraged by the end of the trip because I was worried I hadn’t made enough of an impact. My natural bent as a perfectionist is towards a works-based salvation, so I always want to see results and know that I did a good job. But during a reflection time on one of our last days, God reminded me that it didn’t matter whether or not my personal agenda was fulfilled. I was there to fulfill God’s agenda, and the responsibility to do so was not on me. He reminded me that everything that needed to happen, happened. And if something didn’t happen, it was because He has a better plan and a better time.
The song “Nothing Else” by Cody Carnes has a line that goes:
I’m sorry, when I’ve come with my agenda // I’m sorry, when I forgot that You’re enoughNothing Else by Cody Carnes
It hits me every time because I always have an agenda. I’m a planner, a dreamer, someone who always has boxes to check off my list and accomplishments to achieve. But more often than not, life doesn’t go how I would like it to. I don’t have that kind of control.
God taught me throughout the trip that ministry has to be on His timeline, because we’re so small and finite and unable to see what He sees. But He also taught me that when we trust Him with those seemingly insignificant moments, He is able to work them out, even if we never see the fruit of them.
The lady I prayed for in the Bronx? I’ll probably never see her again or know if our prayers were answered.
The homeless people we gave supplies to? I’ll probably never see them again or know if/when they get back on their feet.
The passersby I gave church flyers and Life Books to? I’ll probably never know how many of those people drew nearer to God because they read the material or started attending that church.
But you know what? I prayed that a part of me would stay in NYC, that something would remain different because I was there for 3 weeks. I’m not sure what that something is. I’m not really sure whose lives I touched or changed. But I do know that my God is faithful to multiply fish and bread.
There was one day especially I felt like I had nothing more to give–I was hot, I was tired, I was hungry, I was frustrated, and nothing was happening. We just sat at a Prayer Station for a couple of hours. And then when my team thought we were finally leaving, we realized we weren’t and they requested that we sing a few songs for worship. Hats off to the worship team that day, because I would not have wanted to play impromptu like that.
The songs they chose happened to be about surrender (I don’t remember the exact ones, but they had the basic idea of giving something to God and letting Him take charge). I reluctantly stood and sang and went through the motions to try to look like I was there for it, but I really wasn’t feeling it. I felt the opposite of what the songs wanted me to do–how could I give to God more than what I had to begin with?
Later that day, we had a chapel service with just our team back at home base and the songs had a different tone to them. They were talking about resting, about receiving from God. And I realized that God wasn’t asking me to give myself to Him because He needed something from me–He wanted me to realize that surrender is the best way to find what I’m after. Seek ye first the Kingdom.
Worship is about giving praise to God, but it’s also about letting God into our lives. God dwells in the praises of His people.
God doesn’t expect us to pour out more than we have; He wants to fill us so that we pour out of His abundance. He wants us to give Him our loaves and fishes so He can feed us AND the 5,000.
So, to summarize, the two truths I wanted to get across in this post are:
- God’s agenda > our agenda
- God does more with our little than we could do with much on our own.
How has God taught you these truths? Has He taught you something similar or have you experienced something similar during ministry? Let me know in the comments!
Until next time,