If I could give you a song to sum up my prayer life and the lessons I’ve learned during these past 8 months as a NET Missionary, it would be “No Fear in Love” by Steffany Gretzinger. It’s a simple song, but the lyrics tell you exactly what I’ve prayed about and learned this year.
“Stir in me a love that’s deep, a love that’s wide, a love that’s sweet. And help me, Lord, to never keep it to myself.” I learned very early on in my time on the road that the love that I had was, simply put, not enough. I didn’t know how to love God the way that He deserves to be loved, I didn’t know how to love my team the way that they deserve to be loved, and I didn’t know how to love the young people we minister to in the way that they deserve to be loved. I wanted love to pour out of me and fill people up, but I soon realized that the love that I could give from myself would not be sufficient. I am an imperfect human being, and no matter how hard I tried, unless the love I gave came first from Christ, it wouldn’t be enough, and it wouldn’t be what they deserved. And so I prayed, nearly every day, to be able to love the people around me the way that they deserve to be loved. I prayed to be able to love Christ more fully, to experience his love more deeply, and to let that love pour out of me into those around me. After all, how can we ever be like lamps unto the path of Christ if we don’t see the light ourselves? I learned that if I wanted to love those around me, and if I wanted to love God, I needed first to let Him love me and stir up a deeper love in me.
“And if my heart should dimly burn, and if my feet should fail to run, call my name and I will come right back to you.” I’m pretty sure that every Christian out there can relate to drifting away from the Lord at times, to doubting His plan, to wondering if they’re making the right choice by following God. There have been so many times during the last 8 months on the road where I have been utterly exhausted or hurt or sick and I’ve had to get up and face a busy day of retreat work. There’s been so many times where I just don’t feel like loving my team, where I don’t know how I can possibly get through the day and still show God’s love to everyone I meet. But during those times where my heart was dimly burning, where my feet felt like they were stuck in concrete, the Lord called my name and my heart started blazing and the concrete shattered. I found that if I would simply say, “God, I can’t do this on my own. Please help me,” that He would always show up and do beautiful things. Every single retreat where I’ve seen the Lord work miracles, in big or small ways, was a retreat that, beforehand, I was worried about for one reason or another, but gave that fear to God. I have learned that God hears our every cry, and that if we reach out to Him, He will show up and come through for us.
“There’s no fear in love.” It requires trust to love — especially to love God and to be loved by Him. To allow yourself to be loved by God is to know that He sees all of you and loves you anyway (Psalm 139). To love God the way that He deserves to be loved is to give Him your life and allow Him to guide you closer to Him in every situation. This lesson has by far been the hardest but most beautiful lesson I’ve learned this year. There’s been plenty of moments where I’ve asked the Lord, “What are you doing? Why is this happening? Where are you?” It’s really easy for me to dwell on that, to accuse the Lord of messing things up when everything was going just fine! But in every moment of accusation, if I can step back and say, “God, show me what you want me to see, do what you want to do in this situation,” the Lord shows me incredible beauty.
For example, I recently sprained my ankle and had to go home for a bit to heal up before going back on the road. I was really angry with the Lord for a while, and asked Him how He could possibly bring something good from this. How could being away from my team and the mission be good? Thankfully, the Lord is patient with me and through the time of being home, He showed me that to truly love Him was to trust — and that to truly trust Him was to stop questioning His every move and simply believe that He was right there by my side, no matter what happens.
It’s scary to trust the Lord, but if I really want to love Him, I have to let go of fear and trust that He will follow through on His promises. It says 365 times in the bible, “Be not afraid.” God doesn’t want us to be afraid, and if I want to love Him, I have to let go of the fear of following Him.
“I wanna stay close to you.” Those 5 simple words sum up what this entire year of NET has shown me. The deepest desire of my heart — of every human heart, whether we know it or not — is to be home with God in Heaven. That is the biggest lesson that I’ve learned during these past 8 months — that more than anything else, I want to love God with everything I have in me and let Him love me with all that He has.
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you; abide in my love,” (John 15:9). Sweet Jesus, help us always to abide in your love. Make your home in our hearts.
Peace and Blessings,