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Our hearts are restless

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It’s about 9pm and I’m currently on a train from Vancouver to Edmonton. I’m listening to Martyn Joseph and wanted to put a few of my thoughts from this vacation together. I am not really sure where to begin. It’s been such a beautiful and wonderful journey – a good mix of laughter, beauty, rest, good conversations and good wine.

 

While waiting for the train to leave the station, I turned on a sermon that I had saved. The sermon engages with Moses’ encounter with YHWH at the burning bush. Moses is called by Yahweh – I am – the God of his father. And the pastor speaks of how it is in our blood to serve Yahweh and His people.

 

Interesting to listen to this at this point in my vacation. I had spent the day with one of my uncles and we were talking about my recent admission to Wycliffe for theological studies. I remarked that one of the signs for me that pointed in this direction was packing up my books. About 98% (an estimate of course… a low estimate most likely) of my books are theological in nature. I read and study Scripture, read about theology, love papers that deal with theological topics, very quickly move to issues of faith. And this is all in my spare time. This is me. This is what I am drawn to. This is what I am made for.

 

I’ve struggled with my faith over the years. How can a good God allow the suffering that I have endured? How could a good God ignore me – or worse, forget me – when I called out to him so many times to be rescued?

 

There was one dark night when I renounced God. I was angry. I was hurt. I had had enough of this ‘following and trusting God and everything will be ok thing’. Interestingly though, in that dark moment, I was still calling out to God. I told God that he didn’t exist. Darkness aside, I could not hide from my Maker – If I go to the depths of Hell, he is there. God allowed me to rail against him with every fibre of my being and did not leave me. In fact, he was strangely close. In the days that followed, I read several books. I’m not a fiction reader and my interest in non-fiction is limited pretty much to theology. And even in those days – when I was unsure if I wanted a relationship with God – I read Kierkegaard. And the message was that life without God was like sickness unto death except you don’t die. Even in my darkest moments, I couldn’t fully run from God.

 

I’ve resisted a calling to serve God. Veterinarian, doctor, psychologist, researcher, counsellor – just a few of the hats I tried on. None of them fit right. This time last year, I decided to go back to school with a new plan – to become a clinical psychologist. Now I don’t regret this plan at all. It forced me to work harder than I have ever worked before. The courses were fascinating – but in order to make my new plan happen, I needed to maintain grades that I had previously only hoped of achieving.

 

As December came, I knew that I needed to start thinking about potential research and volunteer positions that would increase my chances of getting into competitive programs. Yet, the things I wanted to do with my spare (and rare!) time were not clinical in nature in any way. My strongest desires were to start a Bible study or a young adult’s group or something within the church that would involve discipleship and the exchange of stories. I had aligned myself to succeed academically, but I knew my heart beat elsewhere.

 

I wrote for one of my classes – at it was a kind of homecoming for me. I wrote reflections on books and topics that had captured me. My final paper was really a response to the questions, thoughts, readings, and ponderings over my life. It came naturally. The words poured out of my life. Deep inside, I had found home. I ended last semester with the question ‘now what?’ My course in community engagement messed up my nice tidy plan of becoming a psychologist. This one particular course this semester helped answer that for me – ministry.

 

This is where my heart beats. Communing with God and serving his people is my heart’s strongest desire. It is who I am and who I am meant to be. My heart – once restless – has found its place.

 

And there is such freedom and joy that I cannot put into words. Yes, there are frustrations and struggles. I have hard days still and nightmares. While I am at the most peace I have been, I still miss my family and every once in awhile I think about reaching out with the hopes that they will receive me. It’s not constant as it once was though. And working for God has it’s challenges – there is resistance in expected and unexpected places and wounds within me that have me gasping for air at the slight squeeze of tension. But there is an undergirding freedom and joy that I have never known that is now constantly present. I am free to be who I really am. I am free to be who God made me. And as I rest in God and delight in His ways, I am filled with a joy and peace that passes all understandings.

 

O Lord, I have been restless until I’ve come to rest in you.

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