But God

Hey everyone! Daniel here.

My time to talk. Since my lovely partner has taken the time to explain the circumstance surrounding her and I meeting one another; let me fill you in on how I got here. When I say this I don’t mean how the good Lord brought me into this world. That’s a different story and one I’ll have to eventually tell to my children concerning the birds and the bees…

Anyhow, I mean how God brought me into ministry, into a relationship with Ryan, and how we got set on this road to international missions.

Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” -Joshua 1:8-9

When I was a kid, my family was pretty well involved in the church. My grandfather was the pastor of the church I grew up in. I always wanted to be like him and I thought it was great, helping people and doing things that he did and knowing the word of God like he did. I wanted to do that to, to be that for other people as he was for me and so many others. Problem is, I was afraid. Afraid of everything, really. Afraid of failing, succeeding, of letting my parents down, letting myself down, appearing hypocritical, of being too real, too honest, of being too loud, of being too big, of caring too much,blah blah blah–the list could go on. Needless to say, even though I had great teachers, examples, and confidants along the path, I never really knew how to begin my transformation, to face all of my fears. This is where our good man Joshua steps in from that verse earlier.

Joshua was a man of great courage, courage that he achieved in the face of so much fear; and he had a lot to fear. There was the fear of leadership, of being loved or hated, of needing to provide for the people. There was the fear of facing new and unknown enemies, fear of having lost the voice of direction and reason (his mentor, Mosses, had just passed away), of making mistakes on his way and getting lost, and even the fear of death. There was just so much that Joshua had to face down, but God.

God has a funny was of inserting those two words into the end of every sentence about our lives. Maybe for you it was, “I would have been a bad kid, but God.” Or maybe: “I would have continued to be a horrible husband, but God.” How about: “I would have been an addict, but God.” So many people’s lives have changed with those two simple little words.

God was with Joshua on his journey and God gave him courage, and moments in which Joshua could choose to be courageous. He could have given in to his fear and run away from everything God had for him…BUT GOD gave him the courage he needed.

Well, the same is for us. Along the way, I’ve gotten side tracked a few times and ended up circling around my end goal (remember, little me wanting to be just like my grandpa?). I’ve now had the privilege of living some of that dream, of being that example for the young people under my leadership right now, young people who I am just beginning to really help and yet must leave. But God’s got some crazy ways, some really interesting plans.

I’m just now getting used to the truth of the fact that I don’t really have control, that I really don’t want control of where I’m going and what I’m going to do. I’ve grown. I’ve gone out on my own, I’ve made decisions for myself, I’ve made decisions to follow God, to dedicate my life to His service and been trained as a pastor at a great college alongside many who I’ve come to respect and admire for doing the same thing. I’ve battled so many things on my own, both winning some of those battles and losing others. I’ve faced depression, self hate, destructive self-image, worry, addiction, cowardice, self-destructive tendencies, and a few other things. I’m sure I have plenty more that I’ve yet to address with Father. But this journey isn’t just any path. It’s my path, the one that I’ve committed to walking, to facing and taking head on, pushing through the fog and pursuing the God I’m in relationship with. Just as it was with Joshua, may it be with me.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28

I began this latest chapter of my path about three years ago. I mentioned being a pastor at a church, working with young people. That’s been both a great privilage, and burden of growth. I can tell you that I’ve both loved and hated it. Funny that sometimes it’s the things you love most that drive you the most crazy. I’ll remember that with marriage (I love you Baby).

Joking aside, I met her soon after beginning at the church and can honestly say that she’s been a driving force behind me in times that  I really wasnt sure that I was doing what God wanted of me. I know now, more assuredly, that my time at the church has been blessed by Him, that it has been a real grower of my faith and my desire to follow God more. This really has been my greatest privilege yet. The young people I have talked to and worked beside are truly special gifts that He placed in my life. Now, it is time for me to move forward, to press on and let God direct my path yet again in a huge change, an enormous commitment of trust, to pursue yet another dream.

When I first came to bible college I felt that I was in the right place for the time being. From where I stood, I could see three paths ahead of myself, paths to which God had given me a choice to take. In that I was unsure. I wanted to teach, I wanted to pastor, and i wanted to be a missionary. Some might say that these are all the same, that I can do all of these at once. I know I can, and that’s part of the plan. But when I was younger, I was unsure if there would be possibilities for me to do any one of these, let alone all three. But I was willing and I was at peace in my heart about the direction God was pointing me in, even if i was unsure. Amazing how youth can do that for you. Guess that’s one of the reasons Jesus tells us to be as children.

Anyhow, God gave me a promise back then and I have held on to it. His promise? That I will indeed get to fulfill the desires of my heart and do all three of those paths.That is what going to Japan is all about.

Japan is a great opportunity. My wife and I will be missionaries there, taking every opportunity to learn, to adapt, and to bring the gospel message to people where they are at, training new believers as we go. Also, I will be a pastor, or at least offer my abilities to lead others and train them in the word and how to come to grips with what it says and the lives we live in the brokeness around us. And finally, I get to teach! I have already had the good pleasure of being a pastor, as we’ve talked about previously in this post. But this time, I get to apply my talents and abilities in a classroom. Another thing that I am just too happy to believe in all honesty. But it is happening and I’m grateful. God is Good.

Finally, lets recall the  second main purpose that I began this post, my partnership and greatest fulfillment of my hearts desires, Ryan. She has been a joy, a privilege, and honor in meeting and getting to know more every day. I thought for a long time that this giant, loud, kind of crazy, but soft-hearted guy was going to be lonely for a while longer. I count myself incredibly fortunate and blessed. When I met her, she was free and dedicated to God’s cause for her life. Young and beautiful, there was something very special about her. She was completely without worry for her destination. She still deals with the every-day, the normal circumstance of her life (as do we all), but even now, she is fearless in the face of the unknown. By the end of our first week knowing each other, I knew. She was the one for me.

I was so taken, I was afraid to tell anyone the reality of my complete understanding of our connection and future together. With her, I am myself. She sees me and I see her. We are exactly us. That is all and every desire that I have harbored for a wife and partner. If you can’t understand what I’m saying just from that, then I guess we’ll have to discuss it later. It’s just that simple though. She’s my right hand. My left shoulder. My right knee. The Nutella to my peanut butter (gosh, that is so good). She supports me and my dreams, kicks my butt to get me going, and I want to do the same for her all my life (maybe with less butt-kicking). This leg of our journey may be in Japan, but her dreams are mine, as mine are hers. I will see them through. I’ll be her left hand, her right shoulder and the cone to her ice cream. I am very lucky to have her with me and I will cherish every moment

Alright then. I think I’ll end it here. I know I can chat it up, and if you’re still reading, props. God bless you and keep us in your prayers as we begin this thing called missions and continue on the path God has set before us. As I face this new adventure, I face all my fears with the knowledge that God will give me courage just like He gave Joshua courage. My story is not done yet. Our story is not done yet. I challenge you to look at your own life, examine your own fears, and ask God to show you how to face them with courage.

What fear are you going to look in the face today?

With love, Daniel and Ryan.

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