Thursday, March 31, 2011

Seeing Through the Storm

To be honest, I have carefully watched my thinking patterns since January, and while this may seem like an odd thing to say or do, it makes perfect sense. Anyone who knows me well knows that I am an emotional person, and like most of my traits, that can be a good thing and a bad thing. Without my emotions, I would not be passionate about India, life or God. Some say love is a feeling, and others say that it is a choice, because sometimes we have to love people even when that "love" feeling goes away. Both statements are true, and together they come together to form this immense ball of feeling that settles in my chest and refuses to go away.

As for the bad part, emotion is faulty. It does not always tell the truth, and it is not worth relying on. Many times people have told me that I cannot expect faith to be a feeling, because its not. So why have I been watching my thoughts? My feelings? Because my mind plays tricks on me. Every time I pursue God wholeheartedly, Satan comes in starts to "woo," me. The reason I chose the word "woo," is because he likes to make me second guess myself, making his lies sound sweet and smooth. No one falls for a trick they know is a trick, but they fall for the lie that they think is a truth. For Satan, that lie is that I am not good enough, smart enough, or faithful enough. He makes me believe that I am utterly useless in God's eyes and then makes me fall back into the sea of self-pity and low self-esteem.

To me, it is sad that I even know that this is happening. It is sad that I fall for it every time, and right now, as I am preparing to embark on one of the biggest journeys of my life, I am worried about the most trivial things; money, school, refills on my prescriptions. It seems just when I am about to take a leap of faith, a get caught my the hair and pulled back.

Dear God, I do not want this to be the case. Don't let me ask for more strength, but help me gather up the courage to use the strength You have already given me. Help me to see through the coming storm and the tornadoes of confusion that are forming around me. Help me understand that the sun is still shining even though I cannot see it, and that through the rain will come much life. Let me know that beauty will come from pain, that understanding will come in time, and that You always come through. Make me like gold purified through fire, and give me, as well as my family, strength is these strange times.

A friend showed me this verse, and I have not forgotten it:
17 “Get yourself ready! Stand up and say to them whatever I command you. Do not be terrified by them, or I will terrify you before them. 18 Today I have made you a fortified city, an iron pillar and a bronze wall to stand against the whole land—against the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests and the people of the land. 19 They will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the LORD.
-- Jeremiah 1: 17-19

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Verses that Changed Everything...Again

26 Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy[g] when God called you. 27 Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. 28 God chose things despised by the world,[h] things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. 29 As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God.
30 God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made him to be wisdom itself. Christ made us right with God; he made us pure and holy, and he freed us from sin. 31 Therefore, as the Scriptures say, “If you want to boast, boast only about the LORD.”


To be completely honest, I have read this passage many times before. I have heard it over and over again during Sunday sermons, and it is on my list of verses to remember. However, for some reason, I always seem to forget.

I will admit freely that I am not close to being the perfect Christian. I have my ups, but more than that, I have my downs. I have valleys that trudge along so deep that I doubt I will ever get out of them. I become thirsty for water, desperate for the love only God can give me, and angry when my life takes a spin for the worst. The truth is that I am constantly "forgetting," God. I am "forgetting," to spend time with Him and "forgetting," what He has taught me. It is now, when I am battling both imaginary and evident persecution, that I forget how and why God has called me.

I re-read this over and over.
My heart beats really fast. I even feel like crying.
Because no matter how much I think I know God, I am so forgetful. I forget His massive, uncomparable love for me. I forget how much he provides for me each and every day. I forget that he chose me out of thousands to be his servant, and that he chose me to be absolutely perfect in His sight. In the world, I might as well be counted as nothing! I am not rich, or famous, or bound to become extremely succesful. I am not beautiful or have the talents of skillful musicians and artists nor will ever go down in history, yet He chose me; vermin of the earth! Why? I can't help but wonder.

This brings up another idea. If I am constantly forgetting the greatest love in the world, and searching for it elsewhere, am I not setting myself up for failure? I don't mean failure at a job or on a test, but rather I am talking about love. Every day thousands of people are getting divorces, splitting up, putting restraining orders against their own family. The world has become so unsettled by love, that we don't even know what it is anymore. Society has blinded us by setting up picture perfect standards that don't exist. We thrive trying to find the perfect person in our lives, and we come out heartbroken and dissapointed. Why? We have not yet understood that God is love. It is from Him, and Him only, so why do we find ourselves plunging into the depths of such dissapointment. From self experience, it only leads to self destruction.

So who am I choosing to be? Am I choosing to be Echo, average girl in an average universe, being torn down by lies? Or am I choosing to be Echo, daughter of God who He brought out of darkness and made me beautiful? Am I worthless, or am I priceless? And if so, who gave me that title? I pray that this is the last time I have to ask myself this question. I pray that I am confident understanding that the world virtually knows nothing about me, and that my self worth lies fully in God. I may be struck down, but I will never be destroyed. I am safe in God's love. What else do I need?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Against the World, and Against All Odds

Sometimes I feel like I am wrong. People keep on telling me how great it is that I am trying to be a missionary, but often when I tell them I am going to the Middle East they just smile and say, "Well be safe and good luck with that." Of course, they are worried about me being safe, but even more than that I can't but think that they are secretly asking, "Why the heck are you doing that?" After all, every single time someone brings up the topic of Islam, they bring up the topic of terrorism. Honestly, I do not see how the two are even put together, and I get angry when hurt people say such things about all Middle Eastern people. The truth is it is very stereotypical, and I believe that it is hurting our chances of showing Christ to some of the most misunderstood people in the universe.

The truth is I didn't know what to believe about Islam until a couple years back. The first time I had ever even heard the word was when the war started. Somehow, from that very time, I felt a sort of sadness for these people, rather than anger. I felt sad that they didn't know Jesus, and later on, I felt sad that they were being persecuted in America.

That is why I feel wrong.
Because I have been told the exact opposite: that all these people want to do is kill me, and kill Christians.
I don't understand how that can be said about one billion people.
I do not see how it could be true.

So how do I do this, God? How do I follow you right? Is this unexplainable heart for these people wrong? Should I believe the things people, even brothers and sisters in Christ, tell me? Why am I thinking about this NOW, when I am going to India and ministering to Hindus? I don't understand. I feel like I am the only person that feels this way. If I am the only one, how can I be right?

What do I do?

Dear God, I hate this confusion so much. I hate that I am so sensitive and transparent all the time. How do I expect myself to survive when people come persecuting me? Lord, I feel trapped in my own mind, in my fear. I do not want this chain holding me back.

Help me find the strength to break free.
Because I am doing this for you, Jesus.
Even if I have to go against all odds.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Ash

Guess what day it is? That's right, it's Ash Wednesday. The sad thing is that I didn't figure out about it until yesterday. (and I was actually planning on doing lent this year.)

As a matter of fact, I am participating in lent this year. I don't know much about Catholicism, but I do have Catholic friends, and I like the idea of giving up something for God.

So what did I give up? Make-up. It sounds like a girlie thing (but trust me, I am not at all that girlie) but I did it because I want to see things the way God intended them to be. I want to take off my superficial mask and go deeper. I want to see things that way God sees them. I want to see people more than their outward appearance, their religion, or their ethnicity.

So far this mission has been quite easy, considering it is spring break and I am stuck at home. (not only because I don't have a car, but because I don't have any friends.) Its when I wake up with an enormous red pimple on my face and big droopy eyes that I will start worrying.

The good news is I applied for my passport today! I am so excited! It seems like this trip gets closer and closer! India is the only thing I can think about! In fact, it has been the only thing I can think about for quite some time now.

Anyways, I do not have anything dramatic to say now; so I think I will go watch American Idol with my family now! :)
Go Casey!

Monday, March 7, 2011

There is No Title for This...

The world is so full of unrest these days. We have the stock-market crash, war in Iraq and Afghanistan, and rebellion in northern Africa. We have the succession of Sudan, the rise of gas prices, the rise of crime rates, all on top of the growing pressures of society. Sometimes I just sit down and make a cross over my heart. I was never brought up Catholic, or in a Catholic environment, but somehow I it gives me rest; knowing that God is right there through everything.

It's scary in a way, to know that you have been called to one of the most dangerous places on earth. As much as I want to believe that the unfortunate missionary stories are only one in a billion circumstances, I still panic of the thought of me being a martyr. Of course, it would be great to do something so great for Christ, but I do not enjoy the stories of missionaries being held captured by radicals and having their eyes gouged out before having their hands dipped in boiling oil.

I don't even want to think about it.

Yet, its hard nowadays for people to distinguish the difference between the radicals and the other one billion Muslims in the world. People don't see the difference anymore, so how do I discern this? The media? Statistics? Personal stories? They all tell me something different. When I tell people that I have a heart for the Middle East, they immediately point me to Israel, "...because it is safe." Scarily enough, I don't think safety will always be a part of God's plan. After all, it has NEVER been easy being a believer, not even in the country where I have the most freedom.

And then comes another question: I believe that God has called me two places.
1) India
2) The Middle East

India might be near the Middle East, but it is considered part of Asia and has such big differences.The culture, the religion, the mannerisms.... Yet, could it be possible that God has both in mind? For a fact, if a man becomes a pastor in India, he must spent years preaching in a Muslim country. Most of them don't even come back...
(at least, that is a testimony I heard from someone...)

Dear God, let me use the strength and courage you have given me! I will never forgive myself if I don't obey You. I am not backing out this time.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Well I Think My Big Toe is Broken...

Well strangely enough, this title has no hidden meaning in it. In fact, I mean it in quite a literal sense.

The truth is summer is drawing nearer. I know what you are thinking, "Echo, it is only February. Chill a bit. You have some time." The truth is I don't have much time. I am anticipating a trip that can either change someone's life or push them away from Christ. To me, I should have already been ready. I should be confident in that fact that I know and love God. Yet as this trips draws closer, I become more and more doubtful. The worry button is setting off alarm signals in my brain. I feel as if I were....useless.

The question comes all the time: Am I strong enough? As a person who has suffered with clinical depression the last four years, as a person who wanted to kill herself on multiple occasions, and as a person who is now in "remission," from this dark disease, it is hard to look out at the majority of other Jesus Freaks goes and not think, "Why do I not have faith like them?" More importantly, I think, "Why don't I have faith like Jesus."

I try my best to understand that these mental setbacks are only the smallest of obstacles ahead. I try my best to realize that Satan is the real enemy here, not me. I try my best to realize that I don't need to ask for strength, because God already gave it to me. I realize that I don't need to ask for love, but God surrounds me with it.

It is surreal to think about how much God loves me. Sometimes I will go to the beach and sit just to, "Be still and know that I am God." I won't allow myself to be distracted by people, or nearby cars. I look out at the ocean and see God's love for me. I notice how each little shell has its own individual details, the lavish pink hues and the roughest of edges. I see how each wave hits different than another, how they pound upon my feet and beg me to come in. I see how the clouds change forms, as if they were God's Play-Do, as they take the shapes of amoebas and Chinese dragons. God, you are so incredible and amazing! I wish such words were not use so flippantly. I wish they were not so empty and unreal.

So that is when I decided that I have to just focus on God, trust Him, and let the rest follow. Meanwhile, I can prepare for things that I can control, like reading my Bible and becoming more physically able. I am proud to say that I have walked 10 miles in two days, and I feel perfectly fine. (Besides the whole foot mystery. Not to mention, walking gives me an excuse to get away and do nothing by think and talk to God.)

Jesus, I wish there were words to describe You. I wish I could fully amount to what I am trying to say, because only so much of it can be translated into the English language. If I could write you a love song, I would. But every chord I play sounds like dirt compared to what I want to give You!

A Love Song for a Savior.