Friends and family, I’m here! I am safe, I am well.
As you can imagine, so much has happened since I walked away from my family standing at security in Charlotte International Airport to where I am now: in my apartment in the beautiful city of Changwon, South Korea. Let me backtrack a few days, back before I left. I woke from a terrible dream last week, the kind that hangs over your head all morning. It left me with sad, anxious, fearful feelings- feelings I have had so few of this summer in preparing for this trip. I journaled that morning and prayed for Jesus to “give me a new song.” I didn’t want to keep singing (or moaning) about myself. So I read Psalm 94: 17-19,
Unless the LORD had been my strength, my soul soon would have settled in silence. If I say, “my foot slips,” your mercy, O LORD will hold me up. In the multitude of my anxieties within me, your comforts delight my soul.
This led me to contemplate something about myself: that loneliness in my heart always translates to emptiness, no words to say, write, or sing. This day, there was a silence in my soul. I prayed over this coming year, that God would remind me that this silence is not why He created me. This condition is found in the dusty valley of the already-not-yet. I am assured that heartache and sadness come and come again, but Jesus- and simply Jesus delights my soul no matter my conditions.
“My soul would have settled in silence” — The tense here reminds me that my soul may become silent sometimes, but never permanently settles there.
“Your mercy, O LORD, will hold me up” — Future tense, and a promise that is true today and tomorrow.
If I have learned anything so far, it’s that God plants the seeds in my heart that he will grow to fruition in His good time. These thoughts and prayers quickened my heart to new mercies as I have never known them before, and on August 26, as I sat alone at my gate ready to board to Dallas, having just hugged my family goodbye, I read Psalm 61:
When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For you have been a shelter for me, a strong tower from the enemy. I will abide in your tabernacle forever; I will trust in the shelter of your wings.
He has been a shelter for me all my life, my abiding place for all my days to come. The peace in the moment of leaving my family and boarding the plane was overwhelming. I found myself physically nodding my head as I stepped onto the plane, God’s presence surrounding me and assuring me that He has called me to this. Even during the 14 hour flight to Seoul, I kept praising and thanking God- out of complete wonder and amazement, that I was completely calm. I have read Psalm 65 so many times before, but somewhere over the Pacific ocean, I read it with new eyes:
Blessed is the man you choose, and cause to approach you, that he may dwell in your courts. We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house, of your holy temple. By awesome deeds in righteousness you will answer us. Oh God of our salvation, you who are the confidence of all the ends of the earth, and of the far off seas; who established the mountains by His strength being clothed with power; you who still the noise of the seas, the noise of the waves and the tumult of the peoples; you make the outgoings of the morning and evening rejoice.
He is the confidence of all the ends of the earth and of the far off seas: By grace He has called me to see and know this new aspect of God far across the sea in this new country, another end of the earth where I have never been before.
All of this being said, when fear and sadness comes- and it has, how can I not yet praise Him? Every night before I go to bed and every morning when I first wake up I read the psalms, and I read them with new eyes. What has been illuminated the most is the call to rejoice. Yes, I am learning to trust, I am learning to be flexible, I am learning endurance (physically, emotionally and mentally), but I am learning to rejoice most of all! I keep a notebook with me to record all the blessings throughout my day and each time I go to write them down my heart overflows with God’s goodness to me, in the smallest things- He has been abundantly gracious, far beyond what I deserve.
And now, if you have read this far: Thank you. Here’s what I’m sure you came here for….
I have so much more to share… SO MUCH. But I will end here for now. Words cannot say enough how much all of your messages, texts, emails, even simple Facebook comments have encouraged my heart. On my first night in my apartment I read messages and comments over and over and wept because my heart was so full and comforted by all your kind words. And your prayers, friends, are working, powerful, and effective. Thank you, thank you, thank you! Jesus is so good and his presence is so beautiful to me- you all are a part of this process and I am incredibly grateful!