Here we are, five weeks away from traveling to Japan for a two-week mission trip. It’s something Matt and I have been dreaming about doing for the past couple years, and now it’s only five weeks out! I have to take this opportunity to quote FRIENDS, because heaven forbid I let one of those opportunities pass.
Joey: Am I psyched? The lead in my own TV series? I’ve dreamed about this for years! Why have I not been preparing?
Me: Am I psyched? A mission trip to Japan? I’ve dreamed about this for years! Why have I not been preparing?
In the late hours of the night, I often become overwhelmed with the list of things I have to do, and sheer panic sets in when I realize there are some things on that list I just don’t have time to accomplish…like learning fluent Japanese, mastering the art of vocal harmonies, memorizing that box of flashcard Bible verses, and tactfully keeping down fish heads after consumption.
But I am learning to at least attempt obeying that phrase I’m so sick of hearing and wish people would stop saying: let go and let God. Crud, I just said it myself, huh? Well you see, I am a major planner. I like to joke that I have to-do lists filled with to-do lists. For example, an item on my to-do list might be: “make a list of things we need to complete our living room” or “make a list of goals to accomplish during June.” While this is laughable, it’s also very real. I live by my to-do lists, and I get very anxious when things aren’t getting checked off.
God has been yelling to me this week, since I’m usually deaf to His whispers, that I don’t need to be overly worried about having every little thing perfectly prepared, because He has been working hard over the last couple years to prepare me as a person. God is a refiner’s fire. He has been slowly, and often painfully, refining me. Melting me down, separating out my impurities that decrease my value, ridding me of them, and leaving me much closer to the gold He originally created me to be. I HAVE been preparing for this trip, but not in a way that’s easy to check off my to-do list. And that’s okay. In fact, it’s better, because it has eternal value.
My pop always says, “There are only two things in this world that last forever: God’s Word and people.” Although my never ending to-do list looks important and matters in my day-to-day life, I can feel already accomplished in knowing I have been investing the last couple years of my life in God’s Word and in people.
I am by no means where I hoped I’d be at this point in my life. I really thought as a teenager that by age 29 I would have more success, more control and more sanity than I do, but I have come leaps and more leaps from where I was a couple years ago. Maybe my biggest hang up in progressing has been decades of focusing on my to-do list first, and God’s “Will list” second. Too much planning can leave no room for God to move and do things I never thought to add to my to-do list.
As I reflect on what’s important to me in life, I keep coming back to “being in God’s Will.” If I can make this my focus: seeking God’s Will, finding God’s Will, following God’s Will, then everything else will fall into place. It just has to. And even if it doesn’t, it doesn’t matter because I’m in God’s Will. I want so desperately to know that I am in His Will, because then I can release all the pressure of doing other things. I’m not an actress on Broadway, oh well, I’m in God’s Will. I’m not debt free, oh well, I’m in God’s Will. I’m not a mom of three kids, oh well, I’m in God’s Will.
Now don’t get me wrong, being in God’s Will does not mean being lazy on pipe dreams, it means having freedom from guilt tripping myself for not being something I was never created to be anyway. I am not one of those people who grab on to excuses for not doing things, I am a person who feels worthless if I’m not doing everything. So being in God’s Will allows me to focus and be content where He has me now, because why would I want to be anywhere else if He wants me here? I wouldn’t!
So, to sum up, “we’re having fun, you look young.” Sorry, another FRIENDS reference. But seriously, to sum up, to-do lists are only good if they don’t overshadow the time and energy put into becoming the person God wants you to be. And secondly, actively seeking and living in God’s Will is all you need to be concerned with.
Hopefully these revelations will calm my spirit enough to allow me to get some much needed sleep between now and the big trip. And even more importantly, will give God the opportunity to intervene as much as possible, both while preparing for Japan and while being in Japan!
Thanks so much for reading my very first blog entry in the history of Jessica!
Stay tuned, as next week I’ll be writing about The Bank of God: trusting God with the financial aspect of a mission trip.
If you’d like to read more about our Japan mission trip, or contribute financially, please click here.
And, for your viewing pleasure, I’ve attached one of the FRIENDS clips I quoted. This is the worst/best “define the relationship” conversation in the history of mankind. Enjoy!
“Tell of His glory among the nations, His wonderful deeds among all the peoples.” -Psalm 96:3