2012 has come to a close. And like a senior on the last day of school, my heart is warmly blanketed with nostalgia as I swim in the memories from the past four years of my journey. The thrill of new experiences, the mistakes, and the victories, all held together by God’s grace that has led us exactly where we need to be.
I’m reminded of my freshman year being sent to Israel on my DTS. Walking through the old city of Jerusalem, I brushed my hands against the walls of the Old City that witnessed my savior thousands of years ago. Hours a day we prayed looking over Mt. Zion and the Mt. of Olives where God birthed a passion for intercession within me. Then came the supernatural chapter in the Ivy League universities. Cruising through the historic streets of the Northeast, God reminded me He was alive and well as I witnessed hundreds healed and people saved. God made it clear that He had no boundaries, not even in the darkest corners of intellectualism & doubt. All it took was a mustard seed of faith.
Then, there was our unforgettable sophomore year into the nation of Haiti. If only there were enough lifetimes to share about my season there. I remember digging our hands into the brutal realities of forgotten tent cities; befriending and immersing our hearts with the hopeless & broken; saving lives on the frontlines of a National Cholera Epidemic; being embraced by the precious orphans and abandoned, with a desperate love that only heaven could describe; all while planting a house of prayer and initiating the 200 Hour Burn. Till this day, I’m still discovering the seeds that God planted in my heart. (I pray God sends me back soon).
Junior Year followed with a time of deep restoration and wholeness as I left my beloved Haiti. It was a sweet season of experiencing the truth that God holds all things in love, even unstoppable death. I then found my knees planted in Japan to serve the tsunami survivors. I started to notice a trend being around natural disasters; an honor needless to say. I’ll never forget overlooking the flattened coastlines of Ishinomaki. But even more so, what burned in my heart was the spiritual reality of being Korean, showing the love of Christ to a nation who less than a century ago tried to horrendously erase my country.
I closed that year with an invitation to trumpet the message of freedom across the 50 States. I had the honor to be a worship leader with the Sex+Money Tour that changed thousands of lives across America. Those of us that were part of the tour will never be the same; so much so, that I joined the movement fulltime to help lead the campaign.
And so my senior year of missions began with such high expectations. Having three years of God’s faithfulness driving me, without hesitation I comfortably assumed my journey would only progress as it did. I took the succession of momentum the Lord had put in my life, and engaged myself into a one-track mind.
But to my disenchantment, 2012 was the hardest, loneliest, and what seemed to be the most fruitless year of my life; or so I thought. Glass ceiling after glass ceiling, I found myself peddling upstream to what felt like the mouth of Niagara Falls. Doors would open, only for them to lead to feeble sparks to an eager flame. Ideas would birth only to fall to the wayside. I slowly witnessed my hands lose strength to hold on to my dreams for the Sex+Money campaign. My DNA is to be a builder, and apparently my bricks were being planted in sinking sand. For the first time I found myself on a mission for the Lord, yet nothing to show for it.
One can only imagine how deep my heart and mind began to drown each other. Uncertainty watered my insecurities into weeds as I questioned if I was hearing my God. There is no worse feeling than running full speed in faith, but being found with nothing but ones own human drive for success, pride, and without God’s blessing. Defeated by my own human zeal, I found myself exhausted in serving the Lord.
…It was as if the favor of God had lifted from my life….
In actuality, it was quite the opposite….
….God’s Grace Increased.
In John 15:4
1“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.
They say, “Rome was not built in a day”. And though it reflects a truth about patience and persistence as a life principle, I believe it also shines light on God’s work in our own lives. In our case, God isn’t building a mere pagan empire. Rather, He’s working to build a holy dwelling place in our hearts with the delicate hands and the deliberate will of a vinedresser. With deep intent in every decision, God will nurture, wait however long, and prune however much He desires to most glorify His name in us.
Tho I insecurely admit I felt I had little to show for the work I had been doing, God’s work was increasing more than ever to prepare me for the greater work ahead.
As my fourth year has come to a close, God’s senior gift to me was the greatest I’ve ever received. And it wasn’t through my dreams coming true, more glamorous testimonies of faith, or external fruit that’s so easily recognized. Rather it was a gift that required time, hiddenness, and even some painful pruning in my life: It was the gift of Waiting on the Lord.
Whenever I’d run in faith and feel the floor drop right under me, I’d question if I heard the Lord. Second-guessing ones ability to hear God, especially as a missionary, is an emotion I'd never wish on anyone. But, it showed me how far God would permit to protect me, refocus my gaze, and bring me back home to His presence. In hindsight, I heard crystal clear. But I was guilty of a grave sin akin to King Saul's: Moving ahead of God because of my unbridled human zeal (1 Samuel 13:8-14).
Only now can I see the fingerprints of God’s craftsmanship in transforming my driven heart, into a dependent heart. I’ve come to learn the periods of waiting were God’s hands of protection to make me remember His faithfulness. It was a divine demand for my heart to embrace the nostalgia of heavens work, so that true hope may outgrow and expose the worldly hope I may have accidentally held on to. Waiting on God has never meant to be a challenge of our patience, but an invitation to know our eternal God more. Ultimately, it is God’s way in nurturing us into men & women dependent on His presence, and not driven for His promises.
As we embark on 2013, let us daily embrace that our God is going before us, if we let him; A God who is more dedicated to our highest calling, than we can ever be to ourselves. Our dreams for God are great and noble, but His dreams for us will always overshadow ours with the reality that we aren’t dreaming big enough.
So let us wait for God in joy, take his invitation to fall in Love, and change the world.
Love you all more than you know