The World Race: 11 Countries. 11 Months. Living out of a backpack. Experiencing new cultures. Seeing the world. Living in community with incredible people. Getting to watch God move in new and wonderful ways. It sounds pretty exciting, doesn’t it?
In fact, one of the more common responses I get from people my age about me going on the race is, “Oh my gosh, I bet you’re so excited. Aren’t you so excited? I would be SO excited!” And when I read blogs written by my squad-mates, some of them ooze excitement. On our squad’s facebook group, they even get excited about the hard parts– the sleeping-on-the-ground-and-recovering-from-malaria-all-in-the-name-of-Jesus hard parts.
So am I excited? Well, I could do what I normally do when people ask me that question: Smile, nod, agree, and pick something in particular to say I’m excited about. Or I could be a little more real, a little more honest.
You want to know the truth? The truth is that I’m not always excited.
Some days, I just want to sit down and cry for a little while. Some moments, I have to purposefully redirect my thoughts to something else to keep from freaking out.
When I think about sleeping on the ground and taking cold bucket showers and using dirty squatty potties and eating strange foods, I don’t always feel a grand sense of adventure. Sometimes, I feel dread.
When I think about leaving behind my boyfriend for eleven whole months, I don’t always feel gratitude for the new intimacy I will experience with God in his absence. Sometimes, I feel lonely.
When I think about not seeing my family for a year and missing vacations and holidays and birthdays for the first time, I don’t always feel a new level of independence. Sometimes, I feel loss.
The World Race is not just some romantic idea. This trip is not just sepia-toned photographs on Instagram and cool trinkets from around the world. This is not an eleven-month vacation from reality where I just float around on a Jesus high all the time.
It’s real. I’m giving up everything. And quite frankly? That doesn’t really feel good all of the time.
So why do I go? I have to ask myself this question sometimes. Why am I leaving behind everything to go on the World Race? It’s not because I’m “excited”…
It’s because I really believe all this stuff about Jesus.
It’s because I really believe His plans for my life are better for me than my own, even though I can’t quite see how from where I’m standing at the moment.
It’s because I really believe He will be enough when everything else is stripped away, even though the process of being stripped is quite painful.
It’s because I really believe that the people I will meet deserve to hear about the God who created them and the Savior who loves them, even though I have to leave the people I love the most behind to deliver the message to them.
It’s because I really, truly believe that there is something to this whole Jesus thing that is worth laying down my life for.
I cannot yet see the moments where God gives me joy in the midst of sacrifice, where He gives me peace as I fly away from home, where He uses me to administer love, where He heals people in front of my eyes, where He blesses me with beautiful sunrises and sunsets in foreign lands, where He introduces me to a precious orphan who just wants to be loved, and where He gives me the honor of sharing His Son with someone who is broken and hurting. I cannot see those moments, but I believe with all my heart they are going to happen. So I go. I walk forward when I feel like turning around. I walk in faith– believing in the unseen. God doesn’t call us to only follow Him when we’re excited. He calls us to follow Him, no matter what, because we trust Him.
What about you? What has God called you to do that scares the living daylights out of you? Walk forward in faith because, in the end, no matter how strongly you believe God will always catch you, you can’t experience the joy of that truth until you actually jump.
For we walk by faith, not by sight. 2 Corinthians 5:7
My good friend Kaleigh is preparing to go on The World Race, a mission trip to 11 countries in 11 months, this fall. Check back for updates on her preparations, as well as updates from around the world over the next year! Follow Kaleigh’s World Race Blog.— Tiffany