I recently returned home from a mission trip to Door of Faith Orphanage in Mexico, and it was in the weeks leading up to my departure that I truly worked through giving God my whole heart for the first time. Though prior to this trip I believed I had given Him my heart in its entirety, I have since discovered that the piece of it held by my seven year old son was still under lock and key and not even God had been invited in. For all my confessions of a heart fully surrendered to the Lord, it turns out I had surrendered only the part that involved me as a stand alone woman. I stood at the foot of the cross entirely alone with my son held back from God by my own arm. I dared not surrender his life and well being into God's hands, but instead kept him tucked away into the facade of my own personal control in this life. God has now shown me, however, that I've never been less in control of not only my own life, but also that of my son's and every other loved one to whom I'm emotionally connected. I can no more control the future of my child than I can the stars of the universe and to think otherwise is not only grossly self-deceptive, but also extremely foolish and prideful. How dare I assume the position of God Almighty as my son's ultimate protector, and yet I've done it determinedly and faithfully every day for as long as I can recall. Bear in mind that I'm not dismissing my authority as his parental protector; I'm referring specifically to the protection that can come only from above, and it wasn't until my departure for another country that I fully surrendered authority and control and gave the Lord my whole heart - I gave Him my son.
For the most part, 2011 was a great year for me, but there were a couple of trials I went through that were so emotionally devastating, that by December, a part of me was left broken, weary, and fervently seeking God for answers. Those answers finally came in the form of a missionary trip to Bogota and Medellin in Colombia. Desperate for a fresh perspective straight from the heart of God, I decided in December of last year to pour myself into a new realm of service so I applied for acceptance onto a team of other missionaries who would be departing in June of 2012. The fact that it would take me away from my child for half a month? Well, that was a detail I decided to push to the back of my mind until a later date, but that later date finally came however, when I left for Mexico on March 30th and I said a tearful goodbye to both my husband and son. For the first time since I've been walking with God I handed Him my entire heart, and I had no idea how tightly I had been holding onto it until I actually felt myself let it go.
As it turns out I have since stepped off the missionary team that is going to Colombia, but what I've learned leading up to this moment has been life changing. While I have discovered some unsettling truths about myself through the process, I've also seen a new depth to the love I have for both my God and my son. The day I stepped off the team that will be leaving for Colombia in a few weeks, I met with our mission team leader and she reminded me that to be a missionary, I had to be okay with stepping onto a plane and knowing I may never come back, at least not alive. Simply stated, I needed to trust God enough to take care of me while I was gone, but trust Him to take care of my family should I die on the field. For me, this reconciliation to death's invitation for God's glory came the moment I pulled out of the parking lot as our team departed for Mexico. In a car with four other people, I sat quietly in the backseat with tears running down my face as we passed by the car where my husband and son waved goodbye. As we drove slowly past them I was able to see the tears also running down my son's face and in that moment I felt a pain I've never before felt - it was the piercing pain of a final goodbye.
Though it wasn't the plane to Colombia, it was, for me, the journey into many new truths, some difficult, others refreshing. For the first time I took my precious son out of my own arms and put him in Gods. For the first time, I said to God, "I love You more than anything and anyone else." For the first time, I said to God - "if it be Your will, I will die for You." For the first time, I was truly grateful for what I've been given and felt no need for anything more. For the first time, I let go of my own control, and that is what allowed me to give Him my whole heart. I use "for the first time" because, although I've said these very things to God countless times in the past, it was but the first time I actually demonstrated them in full. It was the first time I actually said to death "I will meet you for my God" and meant it. It was the first time I said "not my will, but Yours be done" (Luke 22:42), and it was the first time I saw clearly how much I love God, but how far I still have to go in serving Him. For some, this trip into Mexico was a mere walk in the park and spiritual high with the Lord, but for me, it was a tough journey of spiritual awakenings. It was a moment of truth about whether or not I trusted God to bring me back into the loving arms of my family and whether or not I loved Him enough to go even if He didn't. It turns out that He did and I do.
Aside from one of our cars getting detoured near the Tijuana area notorious for human trafficking, our team traveled in and out of Mexico in complete safety, but had I been able to see the final outcome of our safe arrival back into the United States, my own personal journey would have been void of any spiritual growth and my faith no deeper today than yesterday. So why did I step off the team that is still going to Colombia? Because what God intended to accomplish in my spirit and life, He already did. Though He knew I was going to be reunited post Mexico with the little boy who occupies one of the biggest pieces of my heart, I didn't. In our lives, we have to come to a defining point where we discover that we either do or do not love God with our whole heart, and while He already knew whether or not I loved Him enough to say goodbye to my son, I had no idea, but I'm glad I know now. Loving God more than anyone else doesn't mean you don't love others enough; it just means you love in the right order. Until we put God above even the family whom we love the most, He will never be able to come first, and if He isn't first in our lives, we will never experience His best. Have you given God your whole heart?
"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your
strength." - Mark 12:30