|Emily - 2012|
Before we moved from Colorado to Ukraine, our missions' pastor back home had told us that we needed to commit a certain amount of time to missions before the Lord, and his recommendation was to give missions a minimum of two years. I remember him saying, the first year is the honeymoon, the second year is when reality hits. If you quit after one year, you never really gave it a chance.
We prayed about it and decided to commit two years to the Lord, and boy was it a good thing. I remember our first week in Ukraine, laying on the couch, unable to sleep, and thinking to myself, I may have made the biggest mistake of my life. Our internet wasn't working, we had no idea how to feed ourselves (none of the foods were familiar), we could barely speak Russian and then ended up living in a city that only spoke Ukrainian. If we hadn't had that 2 year commitment in mind, it's very possible I would have just grabbed my bags (They were still packed, I was too depressed to unpack them), booked a train ticket for Kiev, and caught the next flight home.
|Byron - 2012|
But that first week, and many different situations over the last 6 years, have all taught me a very valuable lesson - it's easy to agree to do something when you think it will be easy, or at the very least, not that bad... Which brings us to the idea of faith.
Is faith really faith if you if you step into the unknown only because you suspect the path ahead won't be that difficult (Yikes, chew on that sentence for a minute...)? Yes, I'll do it, but only because I'm sure it's not going to be that bad.
I've learned a lot about faith over the last 6 years. What it is, what it isn't. And most of my definition of faith has come from defining by the negative as I've processed the mistakes and wrongful assumptions about faith that I've made in my own life.
Faith is not:
-Seeing and believing
-Doing something because the people around you support you
-Doing something you're guilted into
-Doing something begrudgingly
-Stepping into the known
-Having an end in sight
-Being able to control things
-Doing the most logical thing
-Counting the days until it's over
-Magic that eliminates suffering in your life
-Agreeing only if you can do it on your own terms
|Byron and Emily - 2018|
But instead of my marriage playing out in America, the Lord brought me to Ukraine, where He changed my understanding of marriage, love, and even what a healthy marriage should look like daily. We spend our 9 to 5 serving in ministry side by side, eating ALL our meals together, and not being able to plan more than 2 months ahead! Our marriage is nothing like what I had imagined, but it is so so so much better, and it's all because of faith in the Lord. Of the nine years that we've been married, three of them were in Colorado and SIX in Ukraine! The Lord has used missions to redefine every aspect of life, even my preconceived ideas of what marriage looks like. And honestly, I'm glad.
|Calvary Chapel Zaporozhye|
2018 Emily would definitely tell 2012 Emily to go for it, to follow the Lord. And I'm telling you that too. Go for it, follow the Lord! Don't hold onto your own preconceived ideas of what your life should be. Don't do ministry or missions on "your terms." Just go for it. Enjoy the breath that you have and chase after the Lord's vision - we just don't have time enough time in life to simply walk - Run after everything the Lord has for you.
Here's to completing our 6th year of missions, and by faith, many more!