The past month has been a whirlwind. We have barely stayed in any place more than 2 days and it is amazing to find myself here in Vancouver at our northernmost stop on the tour already. God has been doing so much, and while I truly know that He has been doing something through us, it has felt a bit like He is more focused on doing something in us. After you make a leap of faith and follow God on what seems like a crazy journey, there comes a point where the ‘steam’ of pure adrenaline and excitement may wear out and you truly come to a place of utter dependence. I do not mean that things are less exciting but just that you really begin to find yourself choosing to either continue bucking up against all of the uncomfortability or embracing it, since that very thing is what God is using to build His character in you.
Chris and I have been having some great conversations as we have driven up the coast, about faith, about dependence on God, about living in relationship, about calling, and about how we go about seeking God’s direction in every decision. Some conversations have been a challenge, where we are really wrestling through something together and figuring out how to have the right response. I think by God’s grace, only one of us has been totally overwhelmed at any given time, allowing the other to strengthen and encourage. As I think back on this month, two things stand out to me that God has been developing in Chris and I that I want to share. Amazingly, both of the things I have written about before but am gaining such a deeper perspective on now.
The first one is gratefulness. We have found ourselves easily falling into a trap of complaining or grumbling about something that went wrong or that wasn’t working out the way we hoped. It can be so easy to feed these feelings and let them occupy so much space in your mind that there isn’t room left for much else. Early on, Chris began challenging us both to continually be giving thanks for things. Randomly now, one of us will ask the other to list off some things for which we are thankful.
I remember at one point, we were in Pismo Beach and were waiting to hear if our truck was going to need more major repairs (after the $3,000 we already spent). I was sitting on the couch and I couldn’t help but cry. I recall literally wrestling in my mind about whether I was going to trust and be thankful or dwell on the difficulties in front of us. It was one on the first moments that we really decided, right then, to remember how God has provided and verbalize it. The beautiful thing was that it was the same evening that we got to celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving and we were truly able to be grateful in the midst of uncertainty.
I am learning that gratefulness, for it to really transform you, has to be a constant alarm going off where you can’t let much time pass before you remember to give thanks. Somehow in a season where we have had to leave jobs, homes, friends, comfort, etc, we have found more to be thankful for than ever before.
The second one is prayer. There are a lot of different reasons for prayer. We pray sometimes because we are desperate, sometimes because we need an answer, sometimes just to spend time with God. On this trip, God has been teaching us about praying without ceasing, like it is part of breathing. I am not claiming that I literally am praying constantly, but Chris and I are catching ourselves earlier in difficult conversations where we may normally talk the issue to death and we are stopping to pray instead. Each time, we catch ourselves a little earlier, and sometimes, we can quickly move to praying about it first. We are always amazed, although we shouldn’t be, about the way our conversations go after we pray first.
For me, one of the biggest ’aha’ moments on the tour is that following Jesus is really about the little moments that happen every day where we can choose to complain or give thanks, seek God or come up with our own ideas, love people or ignore them, obey Him or go our own way. People may look at the big decisions we make to follow Christ and think, wow – they really are following God, but the true test of our commitment is visible only to those that get up close to us and see our walk, day in and day out. It is a lot of little decisions that move us forward and closer to reflecting the image of Christ.
“Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18