As I write this, I am in the middle of the clouds on my fifteenth plane this summer. Just typing that out sounds crazy. God has taken me so many places this summer, and in every place he has taken me, He has exceeded my expectations, which has looked different in every place I have set my foot upon this summer. And before I tell my story, I would like to talk about the beauty of God’s creation for a second. And if you aren’t too dumbfounded by the beauty captured in these photos, then continue reading
For those of you who don’t know, this summer, I felt the Lord calling me to go to New Zealand. Back in October, he instilled this passion for missions in my heart, and from there I let Him help me decided what that looked like for this summer.
WHERE AM I GOING?
God defied my original plans for this summer before it even began. Right after I felt this calling to missions, I was told of an opportunity to go to Mozambique, Africa with Iris Ministries, and I immediately jumped on board with that (maybe it is because God is calling me to go to Africa at some point or maybe it’s because it was the first opportunity that presented itself. I still don’t know, but if God wants me in Mozambique someday, I’ll be there.
Anyways, with everything aimed at Mozambique, I went home for Christmas break, and God squashed this idea. I was on the phone one day with my friend, Davis, and she mentioned something about Africa, and I remember just saying, “I don’t actually know if I’m going.” When I said those words, I didn’t know what was happening because my heart was conflicted. I so badly wanted to be in Africa, but I knew God wanted me elsewhere because I just didn’t feel peace about Mozambique. And I hated that I wasn’t feeling peace about it because I knew I wanted to go so badly, but God just would not let my heart rest. It could have been the fact that I jumped on board without even going to God in prayer and asking if that was what He wanted for me. So at that point, I decided that was a good plan. Go to God and actually seek Him in prayer about where He wanted me that summer. So that’s what I did. My best friend Caitie and I sat on my dorm room floor, and we prayed. Caitie felt called to go to England (go read her blog post!) and I was… well clueless. As I was looking at potential options, Caitie said,
“Ya know. I feel like New Zealand would be good for you.”
I remember in that moment feeling hesitant, as I knew NOTHING about New Zealand, but I decided to actually hand over my summer to God this time, instead of choosing a place on my own.We prayed that God would reveal to us where He wanted us to go that summer, that he would make it so clear and apparent to us. And boy, He did. We went to church the following Sunday, and message was clearly applicable to us in that moment. In the service, the pastor literally asked everyone to pray out loud, “God where do you want to send me further into the world?” After praying this, the service ended, and the last words the pastor said were “Who knows? For some of you, you could start off this year sitting in that chair at this church service, and you could end it in New Zealand.”
So it was decided, God wanted me in New Zealand. So at the end of May, I left America, to travel to the OTHER SIDE OF THE WORLD for two months with ten girls I had never met before. So now that I knew where I was going, God transcended my next expectation:
WHAT AM I DOING?
Basically, to make an understatement, this summer in New Zealand looked nothing like I imagined. One of the expectations I had was that I would grow into a more intimate relationship with Our Father. While this expectation was met, it was how He accomplished this that surprised me. I thought I was going to be living in tents and out of a backpack for two months, placed in extremely physically difficult situations. And I was excited. Because, I thought, “aww yes. I am going to be uncomfortable and God is going to stretch me and make me so dependent on Him. “ But it turns out, God placed us on a beautiful ranch with a loft and a warm bed, hot showers, and plenty of food. Though I was thankful for this blessing, I was frustrated because I saw physical uncomfortability as the only means to a deeper relationship with Christ, which is SO wrong. I was actually uncomfortable about the fact that God was not putting me in uncomfortable situations (if that makes sense).
WHAT AM I BECOMING?
So for a long time, I was questioning God and why He brought me to New Zealand. I wanted to see God show up in big ways, and my vision became a little cloudy when I was so concerned with what God was “doing” that I wasn’t concerned with what I was “becoming.” While there were times that God’s spirit showed up in visible experiences, there was so much more that He was doing behind the scenes. I just hadn’t realized it, so then in my last weeks there I prayed to God for Him to reveal why He brought me there. And He answered my prayer. He revealed to be that He brought me there to teach me that SOLELY HIS PRESENCE IS ENOUGH. For so long, I have wanted a more intimate relationship with God, and I have learned that above anything, I need to know that His presence is enough. This is why God brought me to New Zealand. I had to ask myself: “Calah. Is His presence ALONE enough? Not His presence with my music, or his presence with scripture and my bible or with my podcasts or devotionals. These things are meant to be additions to God’s Holy Spirit that strengthen us, not substitutes.
While all of the things I just mentioned are blessings and clear vessels in which I learn and experience God’s love, things that sanctify and grow me…I find that I sometimes use them as a cop out from spending quiet time in simply God’s presence out of fear and frustration that I might sit in a quiet room and experience nothing but the time ticking slowly. I have known this for a while, that God has been calling me to seek and set aside time to rest in His presence alone. To let his spirit wash over me because it is in His presence that I am made whole, but I have avoided it because it requires consistency and discipline. It requires me to have to sit in the quiet and actually listen to Him. His presence is everywhere. One thing that was amazing to me is that the exact same presence of God that is in my apartment in Nashville rests on the other side of the world at El Rancho is New Zealand. It does not enter the room simply when I open my Bible or when I listen to my worship music. I can’t be dependent on those things. I can be thankful for them, but my ultimate dependence needs to be on His presence. I just have to choose to acknowledge His presence- To sit and have a conversation or a prayer with Him. But so often I don’t because it seems much more tangible and easier for me to click play on a podcast or read a book.
SO when it comes to spending time with Jesus. Jesus- minus the worship music, minus the sermons, do I actually believe that it’s enough. If I were on an island, and I possessed no other means of hearing God speak to me except His presence, would I be okay with that? I think about Paul who was in a prison cell, and He didn’t have access to the Jesus Culture album. He didn’t have the New Testament to sustain Him because he wrote the majority of it. But he had God’s presence. Every day in that cell, he got on his knees, fell on his face in the presence of God, and that is what sustained and spoke to Him. I want to be so radically in awe of the presence of God, so that if I moved one inch further away from Him, one inch away from His presence, that I would break, because the Holy Spirit equips me.
I thank God that He knows what we need to know even when we aren’t aware. I thank Him that He knew he needed to reveal this to me before he sent me elsewhere. He kept me in a first world country and taught me that I need His presence even in situations that aren’t dire physical needs, that I need His spirit everyday to mold me into more of Jesus and less of Calah. I thank Christ Jesus for revealing His will of why He brought me to New Zealand during an intimate moment when I sat in His presence. SEEK HIM, and you will FIND HIM. BE PERSEVERENT in your seeking, and remember that HIS PRESENCE IS ENOUGH.
“Your Presence is all I need
It’s all I want, all I seek
Without it, without it there’s no meaning
Your Presence is the air I breathe
The song I sing, the love I need
Without it, without it I’m not living Your presence is heaven to me”
Let this be our prayer God, that we would seek YOU and YOU alone.