This morning, I found myself revisiting my playlist of songs, “The First Three”—a collection of different songs that really impacted my journey with the Lord during my first 3 years of ministry here in Thailand.
When I said “yes” to moving here to Mae Sot, I truly had no idea what I was saying yes to. Looking back at it now, I can clearly see the craziness of it all.
I had always been so passionate about Kenya and loved African culture. I longed to find a team and mission to partner with there. I knew absolutely nothing of Thailand—was it a third world country or second world? I had no idea. I vaguely remember a brief FaceTime with one of my now teammates before being “accepted” to join up with Outpour, but my friend Kayla was literally the only person that I knew. I had never met the founders of the ministry, and yet I was packing up my bags to leave America, move to Thailand, and join this completely unknown team there for “as long as the Lord wanted me there.” I didn’t even fully know what I’d be doing once I got there, and to top things off, Kayla would be leaving for America for 6 or 8 weeks (I can’t even remember) a mere 3.5 weeks after my arrival! What?!?! It was all kinds of crazy!
But, that’s just where I was at with the Lord. I was hungry—desperate for something different. I felt trapped (or maybe stuck is a better word) in ministry at the church. I felt disconnected from the Father, and I was frustrated by both of those things. And I knew I needed to step away, and taking a giant-sized leap into the unknown seemed like the best possible place to land with the Lord. And not for one moment did I think it was going to be easy. I was terrified under the surface while trying to wear a brave “whatever may come” face on the outside. My stomach was in knots as the tears fell from my eyes on the plane ride over. I had just packed up my life, moved out of my apartment, and quit my full-time job of 12+ years, and all for a bunch of unknowns—and for an unknown amount of time. Yet I can’t think of a better place for this journey here in Thailand to have started. I was DESPERATE for Jesus—desperate for His presence, desperate for His peace, desperate for His voice. I needed Him before, behind, and beside me like never before. There was just no way I could do this without Him, and yet, no matter what, He had my “yes” and I meant it. I knew I was supposed to be here, even if I didn’t fully know why. So no matter what, I was going to make it work, but there was no way I could do that on my own.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but those first 3 years for me were all about deconstructing Jesus and every experience or understanding I had. Those were years filled with meeting Jesus anew, and discovering, what felt like for the first time, Papa God and the Holy Spirit.
Listening to this playlist now and scrolling through the song titles, it was and is filled with songs about courage into the unknown, praise to God without knowing what the outcome would be, and songs that declare deep faith and immeasurable grace the Father lavishes over us as we lean in close. I’m awed, truly awed, at who I am now and how deep my relationship with the Lord has grown. I honestly didn’t know I could know Him like this, walk with Him like this, be confident of His voice like this. There is no question within me about if He is with me and working through me. I see Him every day—hear His whispers and His correction when I allow other voices to speak louder. He is here, and I am fully wrapped up in who He is, unlike I have ever experienced in my life before!
I’m so in love with Papa God! He’s given me perspective, wisdom, discernment, words, grace to carry, and a peace unlike I have ever known. I’m so confident of who He is in every season—the good and the difficult. He is the same—always present, always longing for all of me to be wrapped up in all of Him! These have been years (all 5 of them) of learning how to scoot up closer to Papa God’s side than I have ever been. And I find myself longing for that space, longing to be as near to Him as I can be. Because it’s from that space that I live and move and find my being.
For in Him we live and move and have our being.-Acts 17:28
That is so true of my life. When it’s wrapped up in Him—listening for Him, dependent on Him—I have the faith I need to face any situation. I am filled with the peace I need, the courage I need, to keep walking in deep trust toward the places I know the Lord has called me to “come”. Life makes sense tucked up close to His side—not in that I have all the answers. Most times, I have far more questions than answers, but I don’t fear the questions or the unknowns, because I’m constantly reminded of the impossible, crazy, and downright miraculous things I’ve already seen God do. I’m constantly reminded of His faithfulness over my life—and not just these 5 years of it spent in Thailand. But ALL of my life, He has been faithful, even if I never saw it at the time. He’s done so much, been so good, and He is so trustworthy!
Life has been filled with some truly tough moments—especially these 5 years living so far from home. I never really imagined how difficult it would be to be so far away from family and friends I’ve spent my entire life with. I never imagined how hard it would be to live my life in a culture and trying to use a language that I know so little of. I never imagined how hard it would be to go from more freedom than I knew what to do with to being in a place where I’m so acutely aware of my limitations. It’s not as though this has been easy, and yet, in so many ways I feel so at ease. And it’s all because of the Papa God I’ve come to know.
Just as my “yes” still stands, so does His promise that He is here with me, beside me, around me, and within me. And He’s just getting started! He leads us from glory to glory if we will just keep giving Him our YES! And there are new places He wants my feet to walk. There’s a next level of faith He wants to take me to, and then a next level after that, and on and on. We’re digging deep wells of trust and worship together, Papa God and I. I’m awed by Him and tell Him so, and He keeps awing me more! All of my hope is in Him, all of my life is wrapped up in Him. And there’s no other place I long so much to be.
I don’t get it right every day and follow Him perfectly (whatever that even means) every time. But I won’t stop leaning in as close to Him as I can possibly get. I won’t stop listening for His voice. I won’t stop trusting in His Word and trying to know Him more. No one has ever cared for me quite like He has. I never knew I could have a friend in Jesus like the friendship we have.
I’ve never been so thankful for saying “yes” to something than I am for saying YES to following Jesus. There’s nothing else like it! And it’s not about moving to some special or super spiritual location. It’s all about moving as close as you can get yourself to His side—every day, tucked up as close as you can get. Because from that space, you get to feel His very breath, His every heartbeat, and you can’t possibly miss a single word He speaks out as long as you’re listening. It’s the most beautiful place you can go—and if you’re not there, then do whatever it takes to get yourself there. Because there’s no greater move you will ever make in your life!