“Peace be still . . .” by Jonathan

The disciple simply burns his boats and goes ahead. He is called out… The old life is left behind, and completely surrendered. The disciple is dragged out of his relative security into a life of absolute insecurity… out of the realm of the finite…into the realm of infinite possibilities.
– Dietrich Bonhoeffer

When I was younger I remember going out into the ocean after dark.  My friend and I were swimming and we really weren’t paying much attention to what was happening in the water.  Before long we realized that the lights on the shore were much smaller and that we were near the end of the long pier that many people walked and fished on.  We began to try to swim back to the shore but the more we swam the more tired we got.  We didn’t get anywhere; in fact I suspect we were still slowly losing ground to the water.  We began calling out to the people on the pier for help.  After a brief period of time a police officer showed up and flashed his lights on us.  You can imagine our dismay when he called out to us “Get out of the water!”  It was cruel. We were so exhausted.  I thought I was going to die. 

Finally, we heard a strange sound all about us then overhead we watched as a helicopter flew over and dropped a man out of it.  Within moments the man was swimming beside us with a small red floatation device.  The lifeguard told us to hang on and just relax our bodies.  He reiterated that we were not to try and swim at all.  If we tried to help by swimming we would only work at cross purposes to him.  How shocked we were when he actually began to swim deeper out into the ocean.  I remember being so confused, scared, and cold.  But it worked, he actually swam out and then around the pier to bring us back in on the other side.  This near death event was quite profound at the time but lately it has come to stand as a metaphor for my life. 

This week has been difficult.  We have worked so hard to get everything sold and moved, we have written letters and talked to multiple people on the phone, we have contacted and met realtors, we have tried to explain ourselves (probably with skillful ineptitude) to those at our parish, to our close friends and family, and even to the people who have come to buy or pick up stuff we are getting rid of.   I have come to the certainty that I am no handyman and in fact am quite less than useful in working on appliances.   It’s been so exhausting…

“I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.” Jer 31:25

“How long, O LORD?” Psalm 13

“Jon, ‘Come and follow me.’” Matthew 4:19

“I don’t even know another language well enough.  How am I going to be of any use?”

 “Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.” Exodus 4:11-12

“I don’t feel ready and I really need to learn so much more.”

“You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am.” John 13:13

And how are we gonna sell our car? How are we gonna get out of our house?  The dishwasher, the microwave, this is crazy, ahhhhhhhh!”

“Peace! Be still! Let me take on Myself your weaknesses, and bear your burden.” Mark 4:39; Matthew 8: 17

Sometimes during Mass I have these conversations with God and it seems to occur in my mind as I wrote above.  I seem to find myself speaking a concern or complaint that has been said before and God answers as He has a thousand times before. 

God, I don’t know what is happening right now.  I can’t see the future but I love You so much that I am willing to surrender my knowledge and follow You. 

God can be taken and held by love but not by thought. – The Cloud of Unknowing

Advertisements

The Hardest Part of Letting Go by Jonathan

“If you are what you should be, you will set the whole world ablaze!”
-St. Catherine of Sienna

“If a man wishes to be sure of the road he treads on, he must close his eyes and walk in the dark.”
-St. John of the Cross

 

How many times have I prayed or sang that I only wanted Jesus?  How many times did I actually believe that I would be happy if I only had Jesus?  How many delusions have I believed?  This weekend we sold a portion of our possessions and I realized how attached I was.  I wanted Jesus and so many other things.

Books are my greatest downfall.  How do you let go of that book that you have been meaning to read for the last decade?  The book I spent hours reading for my Latin graduate studies, how can I let it go? What about the one with all my precious notes written throughout?  How will I remember what I was thinking back then?

Jon -“Lord, was all my work for nothing? “

Jesus – “There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every affair under the heavens…a time to seek, a time to loose, a time to keep, and a time to cast away.” Ecclesiastes 3:1, 6

                “Do not be afraid; just have faith” Mark 5: 36

Jon- “I do believe, help my unbelief!” Mark 9: 24

Even now I sit in a room full of paper mounds, piles of files, old books dog eared and littered with torn paper notes.  With each book I formed a plan for who I was to become by reading it.  Each paper seemed to hold the key to hidden knowledge that I NEEDED.  Do I? Is this what God desires?  I keep hearing Him call me away,

“Go forth from the land of your kinsfolk and from your father’s house to a land I will show you” Gen 12:1

Why am I so attached to my books and papers?  Is it because I don’t think I know enough?  Yes, that’s part of it.  Partly it’s because I spent so much time in them, in finding them, in thinking about them and thinking with them, yet now is the time to close my eyes and walk in the darkness.  This is our family’s calling, not to teach the world and become knowledgeable so as to explain all mysteries (I Cor 13:2) but to be what He made us and set the world ablaze with love for Jesus! 

“Amen, I say to you, there is no one who has given up house or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God who will not receive [back] an overabundant return in this present age.” Luke 18:29-30

“Increase our faith” Luke 17:5

Lord I take this step to follow you in this call.  You are all I want, you are all I ever needed.

Moving forward . . . or should I say moving out – by Teresa

It’s amazing how many things can be accomplished in less than a week.

Jon, made the announcement that he will not be returning to his teaching position next year.  I am sure there is more than just a little sadness over that decision from all those involved.  It was a job that he loved.  He loved the students so much and admired those he worked with.  His bosses were great, and were a true blessing for him.  Not many people can say their bosses are great examples of people living out God’s call to holiness and service in their everyday lives, but Jon could.  He will greatly miss everyone.  I am saddened a bit by this knowledge, but I admire him all the more because I know only the strongest desire to do God’s will could have moved him to make the decision to leave to do missions.

He may have left his job, but we are in no way short of work.  We spent the rest of the week gathering our things to sell at a yard sale.  I admit, this was VERY hard for me, but only because of the mess that it caused:-)  I do not do well in a disorganized house and we had half our house thrown into the living room!  I kept thinking I would rather have just thrown everything away so I wouldn’t have to deal with it.  But as is necessary, Saturday eventually came and most things we brought out to our driveway and the sale began.  What I found most incredible was that during our yard sale of all things, we were able to talk about Jesus and His work.  We made new friends and even had the chance to pray with people.  It was incredible!  While I was with the missionaries of the Family Missions Company, one wondered what would the world be like if when prompted by the Holy Spirit, we actually always acted on it.  That was a wake up call to me.  My goal now is to do exactly that (though I do still find it hard . . . may God give me the zeal needed to overtake my inhibitions!)

Our car is now for sale (with a couple buyers on the line already!), by the end of the day most of our furniture will be gone as well.  Now all we need to do is get the house rented (and the yard sale brought with it interested renters as well) and we will be ready to get out the house.  May God continue to bless our endeavors.  I am eager to see what next week brings . . .

I will follow . . . -by Jonathan

“After this he went out, and saw a tax collector, named Levi, sitting at the tax office; and he said to him, ‘Follow me.’ And he left everything, and rose and followed him.” Luke 5:27-28

“They left everything and followed him” Luke 5:11

“Another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” Luke 9:61

“No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:62

How did we get to this point?  If you asked me  a year ago, three months ago, three weeks ago if we would be leaving all we know, all that is familiar and comfortable, to follow a call I would have probably told you we were called to be missionaries here in our town in my school among my peers, etc.  I had no desire to leave this beautiful life we have.  I love my job, in many respects it has finally blossomed into the job I always wanted.  I have been so excited for weeks at the thought of finally teaching in a university, and my classes at MDS gave me great desire and passion.  The amount of money we would be making this upcoming year would be the most we have ever had and we could finally pay off some student loan debt!  Micah was finally going to be in school with his older two brothers at a great school and Teresa would be able to spend easier days with the two younger kids who are SO much less maintenance.  And yet…

“Come and follow me Jon.”  – That’s what it sounded like ringing in my head.

“Do you want to really love Me?”  – Here was my opportunity to serenade the Lord.

“Would you do this because you love Me?”

“This is what you were made for…this is why I created you.”  How do you respond to this?  How do you take in the discovery of why you are who you are? –All those confusing things and puzzling elements about yourself are suddenly pregnant with meaning and profound design.  I knew exactly how to respond, as though I had been ready without really recognizing it.

Lord, “Where you go I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge…where you die, I will die.” Ruth 1: 16-17a

Jonathan, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head.” Luke 9:58

Lord, I will be leaving everything to follow You.

I need no assurance of home or even future designs.  You have filled my heart with joy and peace.  My heart is full.  Our hearts are full.

What a simple thought and yet it consumes me.  It isn’t so much an obsession as a theme for my life.  I feel as though my life has been given worth beyond measure.  Yes. Yes. Yes Lord, I will follow.

 

From Me to Missionary, the journey begins . . . by Teresa

All it takes is everything!  That’s what I’ve been told, and I can already see how right they are.

Jonathan drove away not long ago.  He gave me a kiss and a smile and then left.  When he returns our lives will be forever altered.  I am almost the epitome of every emotion known to man.  I am so happy and excited yet nervous and apprehensive; anxious but also hopeful.  He is on his way to quit his job.  He will announce to his bosses that he will not be returning next year to his teaching position because we have decided to become missionaries, and in two months, we will have no known source of income.  This is the point of no return.  We are jumping off the edge;  Oh, dear God, in whom I place my trust, be there when we fall!

In a way, this decision has been years in the making, and in another way, it was quite spur of the moment.  I have always felt called to do mission work, and before Jon and I got married we had discussed doing mission work as a married couple on many occasions.  It has been the desire of my heart for so long, I can’t remember when I first felt it. We just spent a week on a mission trip to Mexico with our entire family and God spoke profoundly to the hearts of everyone in our family.  Reason tells me I’m crazy, but when I pray I am more than at peace . .  . I am excited!  I wish we could leave today. The call is so strong now it sometimes brings my husband and I to tears.  I don’t know why “now” is the right time, I just know it is.  Jon and I have never agreed so perfectly on anything.

To many, and perhaps even most people, I imagine this endeavor is crazy.  Who would give everything up to take their ENTIRE FAMILY to a foreign country where there is no guarantee of comfort, provisions, sanitation or even easy access to church.  That in itself is a proof to me that we are called.  I KNOW it sounds crazy and yet we all still feel called;  even the children, who sweat profusely and got sick while we were in Mexico, still want to go!  All we can do is say yes!

We will spend the rest of the summer selling things (there’s really not much that we are attached to) and sending out letters to potential benefactors.  When the summer ends we will head to Louisiana and spend a few months being trained as missionaries with Family Missions Company!  We place it all in God’s hands.  I have know idea how we will raise enough money to live on for the next couple years, but we desire nothing more than to do God’s will and show His love to everyone we meet.  To God be the glory now and forever!

–Teresa