Journey – Part Three

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Photo courtesy of Jamie Marie Photography

For as long as I can remember I wanted to be either a mommy or a missionary–or both. I dreamed of the day I could finally travel to Third World countries to work with the orphans, the lepers, the displaced and hungry. An African hut sounded great–bring on the adventure!

As the years passed I set foot in Morocco, China, and Syria. I planned to learn Arabic, buy my food fresh in the market everyday and wear the salwar I bought in a Chicago Pakistani neighborhood. My lifelong yearning to see Israel came to fruition last year. Yet with the fulfillment of one dream came the final death of another.

One thing I neglected to mention above about my time in Morocco, China, and the Middle East was how sick I became. Every trip started well. Sometime in the first third of the visit I would begin to get sick. In every case I became so miserably ill that I could barely sleep or eat–I just wanted to go home…or die. Some of my most vivid memories of all those countries revolve around the sleepless nights spent on the floor of the bathroom. Or counting the minutes until the bus would stop and I could lie down.

Long before Israel Dad had gently broached the idea that I might not be strong enough for the kind of rigorous life I desired. But stubbornness is an inherited trait. I can do it! Let me try. Not until the third day of our trip to Israel, on the shores of the Sea of Galilee did I finally give in and understand. I can’t do this. And I was devastated.

There I was, in the place I wanted to be more than anywhere else on earth–with the people I most wanted to be with–exploring ancient ruins and digs, climbing mountains and visiting kibbutzim and I could barely eat or walk. Why, God? Why can’t I do it? I’m trying so hard.

Sometime during that trip–probably the same morning I was sitting in the hotel chair at 3 am trying to eat crackers while counting how many days I had to survive before going home–I gave up. And a burden rolled off my shoulders I had not realized was even present.

My dad taught me that I am not less of a person because I am fragile. “Use the gifts and talents God has given you,” he says. I clearly do not have the gifts of an iron stomach and stalwart immune system. I do possess a love of the written word and burden to encourage and “love on” young ladies. My heartbeat is for ministry–which can even be done cross-culturally without leaving the Midwest thanks to our new global society. I could stop trying to force myself to be something other than what God made me to be.

Recently a friend posed a profound question. “Does God give us dreams and desires only to tell us no? Are they tests? Or am I not enough in tune with God if I am feeling this disappointment?”

Perhaps my part in the Body is not as adventurous or physical or even noticeable. I did not choose my part–God did. Believe me, my choice of dreams, thorns, and experiences would have been far different. Praise God that He is sovereign and we are under the shadow of His wings.

Read the entire Journey series. 

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2 thoughts on “Journey – Part Three

  1. Hi, I was really blessed by this.

    I was wonderfing if you had heard of the Maker’s Diet by Jordan Rubin. He had Crohns and was very fragile and ill but was able to get better by following it. He is now very healthy and strong and is helping others acheive the same. It is a very sensible, Biblically based diet.

    I pray it helps you. GOD bless you Natalie!
    Daughter of the King x

    Like

  2. Comments from archive:

    At 11:27 AM, Katie said…
    Ah! “Did God give us dreams just to tell us no?” Yes, that was exactly what I asked in my darkest period of night. A friend one evening during that time asked the age-old “is it better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all?” And I wanted to scream, “No. It would be much easier if I never, never had dreamed. Better, much better, not to dream than to dream and lose…” And yet, that evening was the beginning of the end of my healing. It was months before I came upon the verses in Deuteronomy 8 (vs. 2,3) in which God describes His leading of the children of Israel out of Egypt and says he “let them be hungry…SO THAT He could help them to know that man doesn’t live by bread alone.” Yes, the same God who made humanity to need food “let them be hungry”–but it was SO THAT they could be more permanently satisfied afterwards. In the darkness, I don’t suppose I could have handled the thought. On the other side, I treasure it as a summary of what God did in me in my abyss.

    At 4:57 PM, Laura Anne said…
    What thought-provoking questions…esp. “does it appear that the further one journeys the more questions one finds?” Sometimes I feel almost as if I am not gaining ground in my spiritual walk because of new challenges that arise. Yet I have to realize that trials and challenges that come are not an indication that I’m doing something wrong.
    Bless you, Natalie, for your story. *hugs*
    In Him who holds our hearts,
    Laura

    At 12:09 AM, aussietigger1980 said…
    Natalie, thank you for sharing your story. You have given me thoughts to ponder, particularly in the area of whether God gives us dreams to say no and test. I have wondered many similar things; been through many dark times, though for different reasons. It is good to read your take…

    At 6:36 PM, Anonymous said…
    Natalie,
    Thanks for sharing this (and the last two posts). I’m one of the ones who knows exactly what you mean. These things are not acknowledged in many Christian circles, but so real. It’s an encouragement to know that others, sisters, have gone through/are going through the same things. It makes it seem less like some unreal, imagined nightmare.

    God holds each of our lives in His hand! What an amazing truth! Everything I counted “my life” has fallen apart — and continues to do so, beyond what I imagined possible. But God is there – whether we feel like it or not – holding us tight. We can fall a long way; but He’s there to catch us before we hit the bottom…and is so patient and kind and loving!

    Thanks again for sharing your story. I know how it hurts to relive things. Know that it’s been a blessing to me…and made me think about sharing some of what I am going through, if God will be glorified and others encouraged by it.

    At 7:10 PM, lizzykristine said…
    Wow, Natalie. I had to copy and paste this part onto my computer and read it several times!

    It mirrored in so many ways my own experiences of the last two years, even down to health being part of my having to leave the foreign mission field. The Lord has given me something other than I dreamed of… instead of singleness and overseas missions, He’s brought me the USA and a husband.

    I’m grateful and can now see His hand, but sometimes I am still left wondering, “Okay, Lord, what are You wanting me to do now?”

    Thanks for the encouragement. :)

    At 7:38 PM, Katie said…
    Thank you, Natalie, for being willing to bare your heart. I know that it can’t be easy, but I want you to know that it is an encouragement to countless young women who are learning that Christianity is a call to die to self. This week our family has been listening to John Piper’s 6-part series of sermons on Romans 8:28. It has been such an encouragement to me, a wonderful reminder that the call to follow Christ isn’t easy, but always worth it.

    At 5:58 AM, Trina said…
    Natalie, this series is some of the best writing from you yet. I know it was work, but you have done so well – thank you for your diligence! I think this is confirmation of your calling to uplift and encourage young women – you defiantly have the gift of communication.
    I went through some of the same lessons when I was pregnant – learning I had limitations, and that I still had value even when I wasn’t living up to my own ideals and standards. God is so gentle and good, is He not!?
    Trina

    At 7:04 PM, Sofia said…
    While I don’t have physical sickness as my thorn, I have another thing that brings me to my knees(and tears) at times. Two weeks ago I visited friends and as we were praying together they were both saying just the things on my mind. Afterwards I told them how much their words meant to me and really opened up to them about my problems. It was a hard thing to do since I don’t confide in people that easily, but that evening was a huge blessing to me, and them as well. As Christians we need to be open and honest with each others about our struggles, and not pretend everything is fine when it’s not! We were talking about how we think we’re the only ones going through difficulties when most people feel the same way.

    I’m so glad and thankful for your honesty and humility to share this with us all.

    God bless you,
    Sofia

    At 11:52 AM, Anonymous said…
    Dear Natalie,
    Hello, my name is Lisa. I am 17. For the past three years I have been dealing with right shoulder pain. Doing anything repetitive, such as writing, playing piano or guitar, painting, makes my shoulder start to spasm and hurt. I’ve seen several doctors now and they “don’t know” what I have. It is very hard, waiting. I had many dreams of becoming a musician, writing inspiring music for God. He gave me the talent of being really quick at learning music. Suddenly, it was taken out of my grasp. It is so wonderful to know that I am not the only one in the entire world that feels this way. I wish we didn’t have to go through any suffering at all, but then we would be in heaven, don’t you think? Everyone is different, and they need different ways of being shown to love God more, so I tell myself. =) I’ve come to a conclusion, as your Dad mentioned, that perhaps I am not meant to be the strong and talented musician as I had hoped to be. I’ve decided to use other gifts that God has bestowed on me for Him. I am only 17, I have a whole lifetime ahead of me. There are so many other things I can do! But I was and still am so stubborn about getting MY WAY. LOL. Slowly but surely, I think that I will get better in believing that everything will be okay in the end. God bless.

    Like

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