I have found my heart, along with the direction of my life, changing pretty drastically in the past two years. Apart from the constant tug from the Holy Spirit, I can pinpoint two distinct things that have helped get me to where I am today. Jennie Allen’s book Anything and the two trips to Aware CarePoint in Ethiopia I took with Children’s HopeChest.
Before my first trip to Ethiopia in August 2015, I was a part of a bible study that worked through Jennie’s awesome book. It was a much needed, rude awakening to the comfortable Christianity I had been living. What did it mean to actually have an abandoned heart for God? Would I really do “anything” for God? Without buts or exceptions? Could I actually sacrifice anything in my life for God’s glory and calling? I wanted to believe I could. And at the time, as I got ready to leave for Africa, it felt easy to say, “Yes, I think I really could give anything for God.” I mean heck, I was about to go to Africa; maybe this is my calling right here; this can be my “anything.”
And let me tell you what, those 10 days in Ethiopia made my heart explode with emotions. I can confidently say I had never before in my life felt more love, passion, and fullness than I experienced in Ethiopia. The smiles and hugs, the tears and the heart ache, the hope and the incredible ways God was working in and through the many amazing people we got the opportunity to know. I absolutely fell in love with Ethiopia and I knew that I would be back someday. A part of my heart would forever be there.
Throughout those first few months home I cried more that I thought possible and I was seriously challenged with what kind of life I wanted to live. Who did I want to be for God and what is really important to me? All I wanted was God to clearly tell me what He was doing in my heart and where he was leading me. But like Jennie tells us in Anything,
“I don’t know what God’s plans are for you, but I do know that we don’t hear from him until certain things die. He doesn’t compete. And when he does speak it typically costs us something.”
I didn’t know what it was going to cost, but I was trying to chase it. So, over the next few months I tried my best to be patient, not always very successfully, until he revealed my next step. I just knew that this passion and desire I have for something more is God and I couldn’t wait for Him to show it to me.
I found myself applying to volunteer for the Peace Corps, where I would be working in Rwanda for over two years. And to my surprise I got accepted less than two weeks before my second HopeChest trip to Ethiopia in August 2016. Again, a trip that I was so blessed by. And I know that I will fall in love with the people in Rwanda just as I have fallen in love with the people in Ethiopia.
I am 21 years old and I still have no idea what the future holds for me. But I don’t want to be stuck in a comfortable Christianity any longer. I want to walk the walk not simply talk the talk. I know I want to chase God with all my heart, yet I know I fail Him daily at that. Do I know for certain if this work in Rwanda I am preparing for is my “Anything?” No, I do not. But I can’t wait for Him to go on that journey with me and to work through me.
Although, as Jennie said, God doesn’t compete and I have had to make some really hard decisions throughout this learning process. I have had to cut certain things and relationships out of my life, things that two years ago I would’ve said I absolutely couldn’t live without. It would be so much easier to just continue doing life the way I had been. At times it has felt like how can something that causes so much pain and sacrifice be what God wants for me. There has been lots of tears and I am still learning what it really means to have an abandoned heart, but at the end of the day I know I crave a reckless, surrendered faith and relationship with God. I want to live obediently, no matter the cost, and as I strive for this I can’t wait to see where He takes me.
“We don’t follow God just because He is God, just because he is boss. We follow God because he builds beautiful stories. Even if they are not easy.” – Jennie Allen
My story began in Ethiopia with Children’s HopeChest, as I journeyed through this new land with an inspiring book and a new fire in my heart to recklessly abandon my story for His.