She sat with the map staring her down, eyes full of wonder, and heart overflowing with anticipation. Where He would lead her next no one could have guessed, and in this moment, she embraced the unknown, longing to bask in His goodness and grace for just a moment longer. The idea that she could go anywhere and do anything made a giggle erupt from within, excitement bursting at the seams. The sounds of India surrounded her as she lay looking at the world before her. “I’ll go anywhere; I’ll do anything. Whatever it costs, give me Jesus. I’ll go anywhere,” her heart cried. “Go home,” He graciously whispered in response. The excitement skidded to a halt with those two simple words. “Go home?” She questioned. “But I said anywhere. I said I would do anything! I’ll go to the ends of this world and lay my life down for you. I’ll go to the most remote villages and share your goodness with them. I’ll go anywhere Jesus, anywhere,” her heart desperately responded. “Then go home child,” He breathed, “go home.”
It still blows my mind that Jesus whispering, “go home,” to me was over two years ago now. Oh if I had only known what these last two years would hold. Would I have still been as quick to say, “I’ll go anywhere; I’ll do anything?” Would my heart still have burst with excitement as I sat with the world before me? How I desire to savor those moments of the unknown more. So often I have rushed through them, longing to know what the next stepping stone is on this journey of life, waiting for it to unfold before me like the unveiling of a magical new land, but how I wish I had savored the unknown in those few fleeting moments. There is such a beautiful innocence that comes with being unsure of what your journey holds, of being so in tune with the heart of the Father that a simple whisper of his heart gives you tingles all over and makes you burst into tears because you know that He has already gone before you and prepared a path that will bring life abundant even when you cannot see it. Savor the unknown child; savor the simplicity of being led.
Her heart began to beat with renewed excitement as the plan fell into place before her. Go home, find an apartment, get a job, and adopt your 16 year old cousin who struggles with autism, intellectual disability, and mental illness. Totally simple. Ha! Joy should not have been present. That is how she knew this was a call of the Father, a call to go anywhere and do anything; a call to open up a door that had been labeled impossible by the world, and declare Jesus over it. Suddenly, “go home” sounded like the most exciting thing Jesus had ever asked her to do. The idea that she had no clue what she was doing, what she was getting herself into, and how much sacrifice it would truly take had not hit yet, and at 20 years old, her heart was fully dependent on her Father, bursting with joy at all he was doing and how He was providing. The apartment came, the job came, and donations came before she could ask for them. “What do you wish to do through this?” she asked, longing to reconnect with the heart of her Papa. “Freedom. For the sake of freedom I have set a path before you. Freedom,” He whispered in response. “Freedom,” she pensively repeated. “How fitting! Vanessa will gain freedom from her illness through this. Freedom. How beautiful! Freedom. Freedom,” her mind repeated as she drifted to sleep. Freedom. Little did she know, that freedom was for her first.
It’s very interesting trying to write through the beginning of the story all over again when we are over two years into it, and my heart screams a different tune many days. It is encouraging to remember why I stepped into the call, and it is rejuvenating to remember how clear the voice of the Father was in those days. But, to be honest with you, the weariness is overwhelming most days. The mundane walk is exhausting. Fighting for freedom when hope seems lost is discouraging, and longing to hear Jesus the way He used to speak so clearly is heart wrenching. I jumped head first into a journey with an insane amount of trust and faith in the impossible, but now, I realize that was truly not faith. I had expectations and hope, but not the deep faith I have come to learn through trial and circumstance. Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Two years later, when we still do not see freedom, when daily we see Vanessa’s mind held captive by mental illness, that produces faith. We have faith in her freedom. We have conviction in the freedom that we do not currently see. We are assured that one day she will be free, and we have hope in that. The hope I dove in with two years ago was quickly lost, as the mental illness increased, psychotic episodes erupted, and my mind grew tired. But, as I type this, I realize how faith has taken the place of that hope. Faith in knowing, without a shadow of a doubt, that there is freedom in Christ, no matter what we see and no matter what I feel. For the sake of freedom He has set her free. He HAS set her free, whether we see it today or not, she is free.
She sat in the waiting room of the hospital, tears streaming, heart crying, and deep seeded wailing longing to burst through the seams. She ran outside as she lost control and sat on the stoop sobbing until it seemed there were no tears left to cry. Her body was tired, her mind was weary, and her heart was heavy. What had gotten them here she could not conclude. It seemed like yesterday she was staring at the map laughing with joy as her Father guided her finger back to Pennsylvania and called her here to love the ONE in front of her, to give her life for the child he placed in front of her. Yet, a year later, she found herself sitting in a puddle of tears on the steps of the emergency room at the local hospital as Vanessa was being held because of safety precautions before being transferred to a psychiatric clinic nearby. She knew that the change in medication was to blame for the regression and psychotic episodes, yet her heart questioned what she had done wrong. Didn’t he say freedom? Didn’t he promise to be there through it all? So, where was he? Her heart screamed at him as tears poured. “How dare you promise freedom when you cannot follow through! How dare you turn your back when I have needed you most. You were here through all the easy times, through the joy and excitement, but when the going got tough, it seems as though you disappeared.” As her heart yelled, her mind tried to reason. “He doesn’t ever leave us or forsake us. He is always present and helps us in our time of need. He is here, even when I cannot see,” and yet her heart could not release the anger. Deep down it felt as though she had failed at the simple call he gave. “Go anywhere, and do anything. Go home. Love her well. Care for her. Give your life for her.” As the sky grew dim with the impending night, so did her zeal.
Can I get a show of hands for how many of us have been in that place? Maybe you are still in that place. Some days I’m back to joy overflowing at the call placed before me, the call I was sent into, and yet others I find myself yelling at the sky asking what is going on. No matter how deep down we know that he doesn’t leave us, there are moments in our lives that all we feel is abandoned and alone. Darkness pours in, and our eyes cloud over to the fact that He is right beside us, even if he is not speaking as loud as we have heard him before. Or, maybe you do not know him yet and have been walking this journey on your own for so long. You are weary child. It is okay to let go. Let the tears flow, and allow your Father to take the hurt from you. He sent Jesus because He loved you so much. Jesus died in your place that you may have life forever and a life full of joy now. It’s okay to rest. Many days I feel the best I can do is remember to breathe, and that’s enough. You are enough. I love the book of Song of Solomon because we find this beautiful conversation between the bride and Solomon, or us as the bride of Christ and Christ himself. The conversation bounces back and forth as a type of waltz, gliding across the fields, singing in the sunlight, and basking in all the goodness that comes with knowing the Father. Yet, in chapter two, he calls her to the mountains and the valleys. Fear creeps in, and she declines, longing to continue running in the beautiful fields with him, eating under the apple tree, and resting in his presence. Throughout the next chapter we find her longing for him and feeling as though she cannot find her love. She is desperate, crying, heart broken, and decides to rise and seek him out. She finds him and agrees to the mountains and valleys with him and suddenly in chapter four he is speaking volumes over her. The entire chapter is his thoughts for her. When I first read this I remember saying, “wow God! When we submit to you, follow you, and agree to do all you call us to you speak over us so much more.” His response blew my mind; “No child. I have always spoken that amount over you. You agreeing to do life with me no matter the ups and downs opens your ears to all I am saying. My words are never less for you. My presence never leaves you. There are seasons that I manifest myself to you tangibly and audibly, and there are seasons that I do not, but in those valleys you learn far more than you could on the mountain top. You need fire and passion, but fire without wisdom and control becomes a raging wildfire that hurts and burns things it should not very quickly. Those valleys produce wisdom and depth.
It’s been a year since she cried her eyes out in front of the hospital, and yet her heart still suffers on occasion with the heaviness of the reality she walks. The nitty gritty details of life cause her to stumble daily, and the burden of raising a mentally ill young adult takes everything she has most days. By the time the sun sets, it’s all she can do to remember to shower most nights. Yet, the Lord has been so faithful in providing the most amazing husband she could have ever dreamed of, a man who would walk this journey beside her, lifting her eyes when they fall short of the glory of her Papa. Jesus has been faithful in blessing them with a wonderful daughter who will show her beautiful face to the world this fall, and each kick in her womb reminds her of His faithfulness in hearing her prayers and knowing what she needs before she can even ask for it. He has been faithful in providing love, support, family, friends, a home, and jobs. Yet, mental illness continues to rage in their adopted daughter, and many days it drowns out the small whisper of LOVE that invades their home. She sat with her head in her hands, tears pouring as the worship leader up front sang, “we will never know the cost of what You gave for us. We can never understand what You did for us Jesus.” As those words spilled out of the vocalist mouth, Jesus whispered to her, “you know. You understand this cost far more than most. You understand the life I gave for the ONE in front of me. You understand what I gave up for your freedom. You know the cost because you gave up your life for her. You fight daily for someone who spits in your face. You understand the cost, Beloved. So child, would you say yes again?”
“Would you say yes again.”
She sat in that prayer house, tears streaming as she contemplated. Would she go back to that moment staring at the world in front of her and say, “I’ll go anywhere; I’ll do anything,” again, knowing what it would cost. Her eyes drifted to the world map at the back of the room, and her gaze settled on Pennsylvania. “Yes,” her heart whispered. “Yes. No matter the cost, You are worth it Papa. I’ll go anywhere. I’ll do anything, for YOU. Yes.”
Lift your head weary one. He’s worth it.