11,000 feet above New Zealand’s North Island, with farmland sprawled out and both coasts clearly visible, the words I heard were some of the most terrifying of my life. “I’m going to open the door, and you are going to put your feet out first.” 11,000 feet above ground in the first ever bush plane I had been in. The only way I was getting back to the ground was via parachute. The door was pried open, air rushed past me with amazing speed. I hung my feet out, my heart in my throat and stomach in my shoes. Trying to twist all the way around and share my heart with the big man I was strapped to, I shouted above the roar at him.
“What?” he shouted back, while simultaneously pushing both of us out of the open door of the tiny plane and out into the free fall of skydiving.
The actual experience was not scary in the slightest. It was really like laying on top of a giant fan, and I was falling at such a great rate that it didn’t even feel like it at all. I tried to scream at one point, but the air rushed in my face and dried out my entire mouth instantly. And then the man pulled the parachute cord and we gently floated down to earth.
There is currently the daily struggle in my heart between great hope and paralyzing fear. This vision for ministry God has written in my heart feels overwhelming sometimes, and I want to burst out of my skin with anticipation and excitement. The plans that are taking more and more shape for the next several months as I go to the Lower 48 and travel around to support raise are beyond exciting to me. Truly. But there is also paralyzing fear. Every day. Every hour.
I’ve shared my fears and doubts with so many other missionaries in Port Alsworth, to gauge whether I am crazy or not. I’ve sat at kitchen tables and over coffee and asked questions. One young missionary mom told me the other day that it’s more the anticipation of starting support raising that is frightening, but once you dive off and jump into it, it’s rather enjoyable.
I fear not having the security of a job. I have been unemployed for a grand total of 3 weeks since I turned 16 and was legally allowed to work. So, not having plans for work, for income, for ways to pay my bills as I raise support is TERRIFYING. I know ways will come, they always do. I’ve never gone hungry. Being in transition for an undetermined amount of time is also difficult to process. I do love “my space” and routine.
There is a wonderful online community for women serving in missions overseas, to connect and encourage us called Velvet Ashes. On their most recent blog post, they talk about hope fulfilled. What would it look like to see my hopes fulfilled? What am I actually dreaming about here? What is the true desire of the heart? Quoting from them:
Talking about impact is a very effective way to tap into motivation. Obstacles like not enough time, money, or opportunity tend to fade when you get a glimpse of a hope fulfilled.
…Tony Stoltzfus writes in his excellent Christian Life Coaching Handbook, “Dreams are a window into our heart’s desire. Dreams are containers that give form to our passions and values, so we can talk about them.” By exploring the dream (the container) we unearth the desire underneath that points to God. Then we can reorient the goal around the true desire instead of the container.
Well, I am dreaming about reconnecting with loved ones over the summer and sharing the vision that God has given me for ministry. Beyond that, hope fulfilled for me would look like me sitting across from another missionary, or a local pastor, or a woman rescued from the slave trade or a child who is being nurtured and loved–telling their story and the story of God’s faithfulness. It would look like taking photographs and making short video documentaries that help people’s ministries grow and tell the world what God is doing wherever they are. What is the hope here? To share how I see God weaving His story in and around all of our lives.
So, feet first. I currently feel like I am sitting at the edge of a bush plane, about to be pushed out. From experience, the anticipation causes more fear and trembling than the actual process. Hope must win out over fear. Leaving all that is comfortable, jumping into the unknown. If I look at all the hindrances and focus in on the fears — finances, connections, the partnership of other believers — I might just be paralyzed and never move forward. Looking at the vision and the dream, everything seems possible. And so, here goes. Leaping, feet first.