Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Road Map

Have you ever taken a road trip and gotten off the beaten path....without knowing it? That happened to me before.
 My friend, Beth, and I were going to visit our friend Kelsey a couple of hours away. Her dad had driven us there multiple times, but for the first time, we endeavored out on our own. We were so excited! Mind you, this was before the days of GPS and navigational items that you plugged in and it verbalized how to get there step by step. These were the days of actually reading maps....and also the days before cell phones. 
 So, the two of us, teenagers, were out on an adventure! We thought we were doing really well until we realized we should have already arrived to our destination. We knew it was about a 2 hour trip. We also knew the territory we were driving in was not one we had seen in our previous trips there. Long story short: a 2 hour trip turned into 5 hours or so. And left us with a story to tell. We missed  a road somehow and were having too much fun before we realized we were not on track. We had gotten distracted. It took spending time investigating our map to figure out how to get back on the right road and get where we needed to be.
 The thing is, we didn't even know we were lost for a while! 

 Life can be like that. I was once like that.

When I was preparing to go to Colombia last year in 2016, I had spent some years walking through some messy days. Losing my mom to cancer left me in a lost state of mind for a long time. I hid it well, even from myself, to be honest. But the reality is, I had quit looking at my map: i.e. I had quit digging into scripture and seeking God's path for me. I had fooled myself into thinking I was doing that, and I suppose a part of me was. But the reality is that I wasn't letting His map- His word- truly guide me. I was trying to figure it out on my own, getting distracted by people and things along the way. And without knowing it, I had gotten lost.
 I got caught up in pleasing others or working so hard to make sure everyone was taken care of that I got a little lost For a long time. 
 My trip to Colombia was a time that really brought me back to re-discovering who God made me to be. I didn't know I was lost, honestly. But on that trip, I found myself. Do you know the secret to that? .... I want to share.
  the secret is in order to find ourselves, we must actually lose ourselves for the sake of Christ.
 Let me explain.

 I had been very wrapped up in my own world. I had quit serving in the church. I had given up any idea that I should go on a missions trip or have any involvement with missions because I wasn't good enough.  I took care of my family and I worked and I thought that I didn't have time to do those other things because I was too busy.
 But the honest truth is, I gain the most joy from serving others. Because that is what Jesus asks us to do, tells us to do.
 Take up your cross and follow me, He says.
 I had laid down my cross and was making my own road maps.

 When I was in Colombia, I rediscovered my passion for missions. It was never gone from my heart, I just had buried it, rather than grow it. I remembered how fulfilling it is to serve Christ. I refreshed my soul with giving up myself to serve Him.

 This is not a post to share and brag and be prideful. This is a post to share that during that time in Colombia, I lost myself  in His service, but in the process found myself again. I came home more whole because His road map became a little more clear for me.

 My purpose is not found in my job. My identity is not found in how fast I can run or how many sit ups I can do. It's not about the number on the scale. It's not even about how good of a wife or a mom I am. those are all pieces of me, but they don't define me.
 Christ defines me.

 I had been told many times by people close enough to me that part of my lack of confidence was the fact that I didn't know who I was.
 I understand what they meant. It wasn't a criticism, it was actually meant to be an encouragement to keep pushing forward on my journey to being me.

 And in Colombia I found that. It's not about who I think I am. It's about who Christ says I am.

 Matthew 10:38-39 are our team verses for our trip this year. They have deep meaning for me, as for when I went to Colombia last year, these verses came to life. They became part of my road map.
 " If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you cling to your life you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it."

 I clung to my life for a long time. I tried to define myself. I tried to let others define me. But it is not about any of that. It's about Christ. And serving Him. And giving my life up for him. When I do that, I am my happiest. I am found.

 It's very hard to explain, to be quite honest, until you experience it, too. But I went on that trip a little lost, but unaware of it. Until I came home more whole. I found healing in my heart when I went there. And for the first time in many years when I was in Colombia I knew I was going to be OK, no matter what.
 It's not that Colombia is magical. It was more that the experience was part of my road map that God had laid out for me, and I followed His directions.
 Getting off the path is so very easy. We live in a self consumed world. Getting distracted and "missing an exit" can easily happen. But when we pull out our maps- His word- He promises to guide us back to His ways.

 Lose yourself so you can truly find yourself.

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