By Kaleigh Ward
A lot of racers come to launch excited for a challenge. They want to be stretched and pushed and broken and remade. While I admire these racers, I would not count myself among them.
I thought that just agreeing to go on the race was enough sacrifice. Once I got on the field, I hoped it would be as easy and comfortable as possible. I hoped just leaving home would be as hard as it got (because it really was pretty hard!).
I’ve shared a queen size bed with a good friend, felt the cool breeze of a fan pretty much around the clock, and enjoyed hot showers and safe, filtered water throughout the entire building. There has been unlimited electricity and wi-fi has been almost constantly available. The ministry has been within my comfort zone– mostly playing with kids, getting to know teen girls, and some physical labor. The church services are right next door and in English.
In fact, this ministry location goes above and beyond meeting my basic needs. There is a brand new, beautiful pool in the back yard for teaching swim lessons to community kids. There is a spa downstairs that offers employment to women recovering from abuse where we are not only allowed but encouraged to get hour long massages for six dollars. There is even a small gym that I can use for free!
I got everything I could have asked for… except for more of Jesus.
Because my life here has been so easy, I haven’t pursued Him very much. As a result, not much growth has taken place in my life this month. My quiet times were pleasant but forgettable, my learning experiences helpful but mild. Spiritually, very little has happened.
Through this, God has begun to do the unexpected in my heart. He has been gently leading me to a place of willing surrender– surrender to hard times and discomfort and brokenness. He has done this by giving me everything I ever thought I wanted and showing me that none of it satisfies. He is replacing my desires with His desires, where I long for more of Him no matter the cost.
A few nights ago, my teammate Meghan prayed over me and asked God to break me in Malaysia and put me back together even more beautiful than before. As she prayed, I sensed God whisper, “Are you willing for that to happen?” And, with increasing faith, I gave a timid “yes.”
As I began to surrender, God wrapped me in His love and assured me that He would never break me just for the sake of seeing me broken. He would do it because it would rid me of something I need to get rid of. It would make me stronger and more beautiful and more like Him. He would not bring unnecessary pain, and He would not leave my side throughout the entire process.
With each passing day, my hunger for more of Him grows, and my “yes” to brokenness and discomfort and His will moves from timid and afraid to bold and eager.
I am so amazed by God this month. He knew that plunging me into discomfort and challenge in month one would have made me angry, bitter, and resentful. He could see that the best way to lead me to a true surrender to His will was to give me a month of comfort and everything I thought I wanted.
In His tender love and mercy, He has gently led me to a place where I am more willing to walk the path He has planned for me, no matter how difficult. He has molded my heart to help me trust that He is good even when He allows my life to get difficult or even painful. I know hard times are ahead, but I trust God to be my constant companion through it all.
What a miraculous work He has performed in me this month! I am not who I once was, and I am not yet who I am going to be. I am a work in progress, and I am so thankful for a Creator committed to loving me throughout my process.
Father, I don’t know what Malaysia will hold, but I know that You have planned every day for me. I ask You for strength and grace and endurance to always keep my eyes on You and trust that You love me and are working all things out for my good. Holy Spirit, please help me to remember on the hard days that the Father loves me and that He only brings brokenness to heal me and make me more like Him and more like the woman He has created me to be. I praise You, God, for Your sovereignty in my life and Your commitment to loving me, leading me, and molding me. Thank You for the easy days and the hard ones. Thank You for Your plan and Your patience. You are God, You are good, and I love You.
Behold, blessed is the one whom God reproves;
therefore, despise not the discipline of the Almighty.
For he wounds, but he binds up;
he shatters, but his hands heal.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire, you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,
for those who are called according to his purpose.