Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Bigger Picture: A God Thing

From the very beginning of this trip, in fact from the very "planning stages"even, I've recognized it as "a God thing." If you've read my blog from the start, you know that, and you know exactly what I mean. It's just amazing how God has had His hand in the entire thing, guiding my every step, directing the whole journey.

For my fellow Christians, you'll know what I mean when I say, "the bigger picture," but I'll explain a little for some who might not. Again, I'll bring up Romans 8:28, "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." We have all these little things in our lives good and bad, and even neutral (job promotions, deaths of loved ones, new classes, new friends, etc). But all these things don't just happen for their own sakes. God sees the bigger picture, and all these little things just contribute to His too-big-to-fathom plan, like pieces of a giant puzzle. So, for example, while it hurts that my parents aren't in church, God knew it had to be that way, at least for a while, so I would learn to stand on my own and have my own solid faith, so I can be more effective at reaching out to those in similar situations, and I'm sure for a plethora of other reasons I can't even wrap my mind around. That's what I mean by "the bigger picture," if that makes sense.

Now that I've given that definition/explanation of sorts, I'll tell you what I recently learned about "the bigger picture." I thought I had it all figured out. You know, I didn't just come to Lithuania for this study abroad opportunity. It was like God literally reached down and pointed out Lithuania and said, "This is where you need to be," from how everything worked out. And yes, as I received confirmation about coming here, it was also confirmation about being at the church in Loveland (TPOL - love you guys!). Coming here would make my summer about studying and about God. Those things alone were enough for me. I thought "the bigger picture" was pretty self-explanatory.

But what did I think? Did I really suspect I had God's plans and thoughts all figured out? Did I actually think that to be possible? Just when I thought I had it all figured out, God showed me another piece of this little thing I call my life. I was amazed with God before any of this, speechlessly astounded when this trip came together in the way it did, so now I'm just at a loss for words. I'm in awe, I'm excited and thrilled, and I can't wrap my mind around all this. This all reminds me of Isaiah 55:9, "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." See, what I "figured out" was only the tip of the iceberg. Figure out God? Impossible.

Now for my disclaimer: I don't have it all figured out. I know I'll get a ton of questions after this post, and I probably won't have most of the answers. But that's okay, because God has all the answers, and for now, I know all I need to know.

This post has already been long, I know, but don't stop reading just yet. I'm just getting to the good part...

When I was around ten years old, I began to develop an interest in foreign missions that I now realize was uncommon among my peers at that age. I just wanted to know things about other countries and the missionaries there. I had a map with missionaries' pictures on it, and I would take it into my bedroom and pray for them. By the time I was twelve, I felt undeniably called to somehow help with or work in the foreign missions field. After meeting Angie Clark, missionary to China, at a Kids' Prayer Camp, I became convinced that someday I would be a missionary. I thought of places like China, Uganda, and India. Still young, I didn't really begin seeking God's direction in this area, and soon, I let other things get in the way. For the next several years, I went on to pray and fast about it with great inconsistency as I struggled with a lot throughout my teenage years. From ages thirteen to eighteen, I had some of the best and worst times in my short life. I battled with self-injury, depression, and even thoughts and plans of suicide. At age fifteen, I was so far down that if you'd have asked me where I would like to go to college, I would have said I'd have probably killed myself before then. Of course, these dismal times were sprinkled with some good ones. I still enjoyed family and friends most of the time, and a lot of the time, no one even knew anything was wrong. For all this time, I tried and tried to get out of the pit I found myself stuck in. I tried to stop hurting myself too many times to count.

My point in telling you this is not to make you feel sorry for me or even to move you to any emotion. My point is to show you that not only did I lose sight of my dream, my vision, my calling, but I also lost sight of God. And without God, life isn't worth living.

When I finally surrendered and let God take control, everything changed. That was only a relatively short time ago, and this is a process, not an instant thing. But my life has been vibrant since then; there's really no other way to describe it. I'm truly living, and loving every minute of it. I see how God allowed me to grow and have some stability before reminding me of my former passion for foreign missions.

Right about now, I'm assuming my family and close friends back home are getting a little bit panicked. Take a deep breath and read on...

A few days ago, I was leaving the church here with the Millers when Shasta asked me if I would ever consider coming back to Vilnius and staying for a longer period of time. Honestly, the thought had only briefly crossed my mind before then, and I hadn't paid much attention to it. I don't remember exactly how I answered her, but I'm sure it was something like a hesitant "maybe." But the idea was planted, and even over a few short days, it's grown.

God has reminded me of my old passion and dreams for foreign missions, and He has reminded me of a promise He gave me involving this, the only time I've heard His voice audibly. It's like a fire has been started within me. All this, paired with the stories I've heard from the Millers, the excitement I've gotten from watching God work in people's lives, and the love I've gained for this city, makes me want to be a part of the awesome things God is doing here, not only for the next week and a half before I leave, but on a more long-term basis. I know this isn't just a me thing because I couldn't fathom something like this. I've been homesick since I got here, and everyone knows how much I love my family and friends back home. I wouldn't have come up with an idea like this on my own; it has to be a God thing.

But that's not even the whole story. The other part happened by accident. The background on my phone is an edited photo of arms with the word "love" written on them, in support of the organization To Write Love On Her Arms, which - if you don't know - is basically a non-profit organization for self-injury, depression, and suicide awareness and prevention.

I've always thought TWLOHA is a great idea, and I've wanted to be a part of something like that. I actually looked into interning with them in Florida this summer, but we all know how my summer plans came about. Anyway, Shasta happened to see the background on my phone, and she asked about it. After explaining it to her, she said, "We need something like that here!" And immediately the thought came into my head, "I could make that happen." But it didn't seem like a thought of my own, more like a thought whispered into my mind, which is sometimes how it happens when I feel like God is speaking to me. For that reason, I also think this idea is a God thing. Lithuania has one of the highest suicide rates in the world, and as such, Shasta is right, they are in need of something like TWLOHA to make a difference, even a little difference. And that little thought I had was true, I could be the one to start it.

Well, as long as that was, I've really only told you the condensed version of everything, if you can imagine that.

So now, after all this, I'm thinking I will be looking into returning to Lithuania, possibly even finishing school here as I have three years left, and I'm not even sure I want to wait that long. Of course, it won't be an over-night thing either. Right now, I can hardly take in the excitement and the huge-ness of it all. I have a lot of research to do on a lot of things, but in the meantime, I can assure you I will be praying and fasting about this, along with attempting to learn some more Lithuanian.

Like many other young people across the UPC, I've been told time and time again for as long as I can remember that God has something great planned for my life. Well, this just might be it...

I'd like to leave you with some relevant Scriptures that have been on my mind throughout this incredible journey:
Proverbs 3:5-6 "Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct they paths."
Psalm 37:4-5 "Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass."


  1. I pray that God will allow you to do this and that He helps you accomplish this and all of your other dreams :) Think this blog is cool.
    Just thought I'd send you my blog. I write poetry about God and what I'm feeling in case you wanted to check it out. Keep the faith in God. He'll take care of you and keep writing :)

  2. Yay for you my young friend!

    Crystal (TPOL)

  3. @Mad Writer:
    Thanks! I'll have to check out your blog :)