Dare to…

In a month and a few days, I will be travelling to Peru with my best friend. We will spend two weeks there exploring the Andes and Machu Picchu, looking through markets, trying new foods, speaking with locals, hiking though canyons. We will figure out hostel situations and work through bus schedules. We will experience altitude. We will do all of these things that we have done before and love all the more because of it.

We love it. Our explorer hearts rejoice in this kind of thing.

But with the announcement of our summer plans comes the usual, well-meaning questions.

But aren’t you scared to travel just the two of you? Are your worried that the hostels won’t be very nice? Are you concerned about safety?

The answer is yes, but we dare to go anyway. Let me explain why.

There is this quote by Donald Miller that I love:

The most often repeated commandment in the Bible is “Do not fear.” It is in there over two hundred times. That means a couple things, if you think about it. It means we are going to be afraid, and it means we shouldn’t let fear boss us around.

No one should deny that travel (especially travel to foreign countries) can be scary, and it’s scary for a reason. There are legitimate dangers that need to be considered, and I do not want to minimize that in any way. Nevertheless, I argue that these fears/dangers/scary things should never keep us away from travel as a whole.

Fear should not rule our lives. If fear ruled my life, I would never have gone to Mexico with a group of 40 strangers. I wouldn’t have planned a trip to Colombia and Ecuador for me and my best friend. I wouldn’t have traveled alone to Colombia to teach English. I wouldn’t be planning for Peru this summer. But I dared to. I dared to take the risks. I dared to talk to strangers. I dared to try new things. I dared to be friends with people very different than me.

Can we be even more real about this for a second? If I let fear rule my life, I honestly doubt I would ever leave my room. Fear is real and crippling. I can look back and see many times in my life that I allowed it to control me, and those were not pretty times. Fear is real and scary. Fear itself is scary.

But you know the thing about fear? Even when we cannot get rid of it (if anyone has figured out a way to do this please let me know, because I haven’t been able to do that yet), we can look that fear in the face and dare to step beyond it.

Dare to live life in spite of fear.

Dare to travel.

Dare to make new friends.

Dare to speak in a new language.

Dare to explore a new place.

Dare to hike the mountain.

Dare to take the hard class.

Dare to speak up.

Dare to…

At the end of the day, dare to trust that there is a God who is greater than any fear we can ever encounter, and dare to believe that He wants you to live a life bigger than that fear.

Dare to.

Photo above: reaching the glacier on Cotopaxi Volcano, Ecuador. Elevation apprx. 16,000ft. 

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All that YOU have done.

“When I look around…I am overwhelmed…by all that You have done.”

It’s funny how God likes to surprise remind you of how good he is. For example, at a cold, outdoor concert that you really had no plans of going to. As the performer sings out a simple verse of worship, “When I look around…I am overwhelmed…by all that You have done. When I look around…I am overwhelmed…by all that You have done.”

When I look around

Lee’s soccer field. Bright lights and a large temporary concert stage. Some apartment buildings. A sunset. Sweet friends. Strangers. Parents. High school students. College students. Hands lifted up. Eyes closed. Jesus.

I am overwhelmed…

How much this place means to me. How much these people mean to me. God’s presence and good work on this campus.

By all that You have done…

I am here. Why am I here? I didn’t want to come to this concert…four years ago I didn’t even want to come to this school. But I am here with hundreds and hundreds of friends and strangers praising the Lord at the place that I call home.

I stand here with a strong faith…full of questions and wonderings, but still trusting that God is good, that He is there, and that He knows me. I stand with my hands raised in an outward display of praise. I stand here recognizing the power and joy of communal worship. I am here, but without God I wouldn’t be.

By all that You have done…

I think back to the earlier stages of my Christian journey, to the times when I thought everything was meant to be private–doubts were meant to be battled alone, lifting up hands was embarrassing and awkward, talking about God was reserved for formal church gatherings, and praying out loud happened in church and before holiday meals.

I was raised in a Christian family, but a very private Christian family. We didn’t talk about God, not really. I learned that this thing called a “Christian walk” was meant to be your own journey, not something to be shared with others. Spirituality was for the individual. Reading the Bible was rare and in private. Prayer was in the space of your own bedroom. Sharing this with others was awkward.

[Let me take the time to insert here that my parents are wonderful people and they raised me so well. Looking back, I believe that their own experiences with church and spirituality led to this environment in our house. I believe they did the best they could with guiding me and my brother in our faith, and for that I am deeply thankful. But that is a different conversation, and maybe I’ll dive into it one day.]

By all that You have done…

Yet I am here, truly thankful for faith in community.

I look around me at all the people. For the first time, I truly ask the question, “Why am I here?”

The answer is Jesus, and before this time that never seemed a satisfactory answer. If I am being honest, I always thought that answering a question with “Jesus” was the Christian fake and easy answer for “I’m not really sure” or “I don’t want to tell the whole story.” But as I sang out again and again “by all that You have done”, I was positive that this time the answer was actually Jesus.

By all that You have done…

When I was younger, there wasn’t anyone in my house encouraging me to pray. There was no one telling me to read the Bible every day. There was no one telling me about how good God is.

But I did pray in the privacy of my own room. I did read my Bible. I did ask God questions. I did try to know Him. WHY? Why would a child do that on their own?

Jesus.

When I look around…I am overwhelmed…by all that You have done…

Truly overwhelmed. I see so clearly the image of God pulling little me closer. Putting in me a curiosity to read the Bible, to pray, to know Him more. Putting people in my life to guide me further.

I should not be on a soccer field, worshiping, at a school that puts such an emphasis on spirituality.

I should not have faith.

I should not be willing to share that faith with others.

On this soccer field, I am so overwhelmed and humbled and glad of your goodness. And I feel it so deeply. I am amazed and overwhelmed and thankful, that such a big God could captivate such a little child and bring her to such an amazing place. As I look around at this place and these people, I am reminded once again that You are good. And I know that I am here just because of all that You have done. 

[See picture of baby, freshman me above. It seemed appropriate.]