One Step for a Cross

I survived. Scratch that, I did more than survive. I came back from Papua New Guinea yesterday at 3:00, and my heart has been a beautiful mess ever since. Many times throughout the past 6 weeks I was wondering how I could tell you what I’ve been through in a way that you would understand, and so often I felt like it couldn’t be done. I could give you statistics, but that would omit any personal achievements. I could give you personal achievements, but those wouldn’t mean much to you. I’d love to tell you everything, but I don’t have enough word space for that, but I did write a nifty journal entry explaining my heart in the last week, and I’d love to share a piece of it with you.

“When you spend 6 weeks in a rainforest, you’re bound to learn some important things about your life, and why you’re here. But when you’re lead into that forest by a God who needs you there, you learn even more about how “your” life really isn’t yours at all. Very quickly, all of the “I deserve” becomes “I am blessed to receive”, the “basic human rights” turn out to not be so “basic”, and the way you’ve viewed life before those 6 weeks has forever been changed. How can you escape the forest without seeing that God is good, and that He is everywhere? He’s in the creative way the nature blends together so perfectly. He’s in the awesome power rumbling in the thunderstorms. He’s in the eyes of the tiniest child looking for some love. God is here.
PNG definitely is the land of the unexpected. You can wake up in the morning and see nothing but blue skies, not a cloud anywhere. The next thing you know, you’re out walking around when a storm erupts. I’ve learned there’s no way you can predict the future. God has a funny way of letting you know who’s in charge. We’ve been through some pretty tough times (to put it lightly), but He’s always been there to give us exactly what we need, with His perfect timing. In the middle of a 10 hour hike, and you’ve already passed the point of giving it all you’ve got. You know, without a shadow of a doubt, that God is slowly but surely lifting you you up the mountains and through the mud. Or, when you feel called to speak in front of hundreds of people, and you’re up next, when suddenly you realize, “I have no idea what I’m supposed to say.” But, you know you’re meant to speak, so you ask for the right words, and you manage to blow them out of the water for 45 minutes. Only with God.
In the end, when you’ve taken the last step, what have you learned? In the last 6 weeks, what about you has changed? Because there’s no way you can go through everything you’ve gone through and be the same girl as before. You have had the beautiful chance to experience another piece of God, a new piece of Him you understood, but hadn’t experienced. It’s changed you from the inside out. People aren’t just people any more, and money isn’t nearly as important. As I look towards my future, I no longer doubt God’s ability to provide for me, in all areas. I know He’ll provide, because I’ve been surviving off His blessings for the past 6 weeks. Crazy things happen when God is given room to be God.”

So. For those of you who like numbers. Through the six weeks, we hiked on a total of 14 days, for a total of 63 1/2 hours. On a map of Papua New Guinea from 1980, to fly straight from Kerema, our starting point, to Menyamya, our final destination, was a total of 70km. What you need to know: this map was 21 years old, and 100% inaccurate. I’m estimating that the hike was a good 150km, not including all the zig-zagging we did, plus all the inclines. At our highest altitude, we were 2280m above sea level, which is 100% accurate, because we actually started our hike by stepping out of a boat off the ocean. After reading over this, I’ve realized how this is doing the trip a huge injustice. Words are hard to piece together to give you a fair understanding of what we’ve gone through. I hope I can take some time with each of you when I get back and give you some more details. Until then, this will have to do.

When I was hiking, there were points where I felt “I have absolutely nothing left” I knew that I couldn’t go any further. My mind played games with me. Defeat merely begins to explain it. But when I got to the spot where my foot felt like a cement block, all I could remember was “One step, one more step. He took the Cross. I can take a step for that”. Where in your life have your feet stopped moving? I want you to know you can keep going. You CAN continue on, because He’s there to help you, no matter what situation you’re stuck in. This is where you can let God be God. And He’ll never stop surprising you.

Again, I want to say thank you SO much. Thank you for praying. Thank you for saying hi, for encouraging me, and for supporting me from so far away. I have been blessed so much by all of you, God is a good, good, God. I can’t wait to see all of your beautiful faces in less than 2 weeks!!!

With Strength that is not my own, Sam

New Pages

Everyday, we write a page in our life book. Sometimes the pages look the same, depending how long you live a similar lifestyle. But sometimes your pages start to shift, they get a new theme. Sometimes these changes are slight, barely noticeable. They only way you know something is different is when you look back and see the change. Right now, in the stage I’m in, I have new pages. These pages are totally different from the ones I wrote before. These pages look different, and they sound different. They are fresh, clean, and unhindered. These pages are getting filled very quickly. God is writing things in me that I have never known before, and let me tell you, it is so freeing!

This week has been insane. I looked over my notes, and they alone tell a story. Monday I took 6 pages of notes. I was enthralled with what was being thrown at me, I ate it up and craved more. Tuesday was rough. Our speaker challenged our thoughts on God. I was ticked, to say the least. “Who is this man to falter my image of God?”. Little did I know, Kevin wasn’t faltering God, he was simply revealing truths to me that I didn’t want to accept. And why not? Because I wasn’t taught it before. Wednesday was a slight continuation of Tuesday. We just needed to establish who the Bible says God is. Does God change His mind? Read Jonah. Are God’s decisions able to be influenced by a mere human? Read Ezekiel 4. I didn’t like this. I didn’t like the thought that I, a faulted human, could influence the Creator of the universe. I didn’t like how God had to change His mind, because that, to me, meant He didn’t have the outcome planned out. How could all this happen if God is perfect? The thing is, just because these things happen, God is not diminished. God lets us be a part of future plans by letting us ask for things. God changes His mind because He is gracious, and His previous plans don’t apply any more because nations turn to Him. So just because it turns out that God isn’t who I thought He was doesn’t mean He isn’t still good. It doesn’t mean He isn’t still infinite. It doesn’t mean He isn’t still bigger than I can understand. It means He wants me. He wants for me to offer my opinion. He wants me to know that this relationship we have is influenced by both Him and me. And what about that is scary? Absolutely nothing. So after all this revelation, we wanted to meet this God that we were learning all about. We wanted to meet the Spirit, and learn more about what part the Spirit has in the Trinity. So we did.

Thursday was a continuation of Wednesday. You guys know head knowledge right? Like, I’ve always known God loves me. “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” We rattle that song off from the time we can talk. And it’s so true. But it’s head knowledge. I wanted to know, in my heart, that He loves me. I wanted to let go of the standards I was setting for Him, but still come to Him with expectations, because that’s allowed. We are allowed to expect things from God. Just like you expect certain things from a husband, wife, best friend, or even neighbour. I made expectations for Him. And the beauty of it is that I could never have an expectation for Him that He couldn’t fulfill. The thing is, you need to come before Him with your real self. Don’t come before Him pretending to be happy, because He knows your heart. So I dropped the guard. I told Him what was on my heart, and I was prayed for by 3 incredible men of God. And guess what. HE LOVES ME. He really does. In His own way, He showed me. He told me who I was to Him,  He told me what I’m meant for, and He told me to keep going, keep stepping closer to Him.

Jesus crashed into me yesterday. I finally realized something. All this time I’ve been running for Him. I’ve been pushing things out of the way, throwing stuff around, making a mess of life, and there was beauty in it. Because on the other side of the door, Jesus was doing the same for me. HE was running to me. HE was fighting for me. HE WANTS ME. He crashed into my heart, and it didn’t hurt. He filled me with His spirit, and you would have died laughing at me, because I was so overjoyed. No one could get me to stop laughing. And I didn’t want to. Because He loves me. And that is joy to my ears. So why not laugh? Why not.

Tomorrow morning we’re leaving for Hidden Valley. Two weeks of camping. We are learning Lordship, and then a secret topic! 🙂 The drive is about 2 hours north, so I’ll be sure to make a super annoying playlist for the ride! I’ll be keeping a journal, so I will top you up when I return on the 6th. Sunday my outreach team is going for a hike through the rain forest. We’ll be dropped off and we’ll hike our way back, anywhere from 3-6 hours! We also found out the first stretch of hike for outreach in PNG is 15 hours! So again, please pray for me! 🙂

Here’s my outreach team! We’re pretty awesome. This is at the top of Castle Hill, probably around 6:15am. Like I said, pretty awesome. The back row is Abbie (leader/friend) me, Claire, Lovisa and Sam T! The men: Ben (leader/friend), Pete, Jordan, Roger and Peter. This is as good as it gets! (To see a bigger view, click on the picture)

I hope the pages you write these next few days look more and more like Jesus. I miss you all! Lots of love from Australia!

With Strength that is not my own, Sam