A Passport and a Backpack

It was one of those moments. The kind that movies are made of….and I stood there wondering what I should do. For years I had heard the gentle whisper of God’s Spirit and had ignored it. Maybe even pushed it away forcefully. Stubbornly. This time, it was more than a gentle nudge.

God wanted me to get a passport. I was resistant, not because I didn’t want to go far away, but more for that fact that I didn’t have a scheduled missions trip. Why spend the money if I didn’t know if I really would ever go anywhere? I’m practical like that. One of my sister-in-laws once told me that I’m “way too practical”. She’s right when it comes to stuff like this. I’m a buy-only-it-if-you-need-it kind of girl. Over and over I had heard His call…to obey and get my passport.

Just. Because. He. Said. So. It’s called obedience.

For the better part of six years I had put Him off. SIX YEARS y’all. It’s embarrassing! This girl who writes and speaks on following Jesus whole-heartedly. This girl who wants to leave everything on the field. This girl who talks about loving Jesus. That girl…rebels. Makes excuses. Back-talks Jesus. Thinks she knows best for herself and holds herself back. That’s me. Practical to a fault, and not proud of it.

The thing is, Jesus is forever-in-a-day patient with me. Merciful and kind. Forgiving and lavish with grace. He kept prodding my heart. Pursuing might be a better word. It came up everywhere. Whenever someone would go on a missions trip I would hear the whisper “that could be you one day”. But I didn’t need a passport…yet.

Life is kind of like traveling in a boat…you can live hanging over the side and trying to do your own thing, or you can get all in with Jesus and enjoy the journey. I sometimes visualize myself as the gal hanging over the side, trying to doggy paddle in the opposite direction. All the while, God is smiling and waiting on me to give in. No wonder I’m so tired. It’s seriously exhausting to be paddling against the will of God.

This year, God gave me a theme to live the year 2017 by. Be Brave. Since January I’ve seen glimpses of this theme all over the place. I’ve craved living brave. I’ve met courageous people and have been touched by how hard they follow Jesus. They leave nothing undone. I’ve learned from these men and women one thing: if Jesus tells you to do something, do it. No ifs, ands or buts. Just obey. Unfortunately, I don’t always live that way.

Last month my brother came in from work and mentioned (yet ANOTHER) mission trip opportunity…but this one was only two weeks away, so it was only open to those who already had their passports. BAM. Right between the eyes. Or maybe a gut shot? Either way, it hurt. I visibly winced.

All my excuses suddenly seemed futile. I was completely convicted. The years of my pushing off God’s request for me to get a passport flashed before my eyes. Why had I not said YES when He called?

That night, I wrote and processed the day. After years of rebellion, I realized that Jesus wanted ALL of me. He wanted to be able to ask me to do anything and go anywhere at the drop of a hat. Standing between me and the horizon of ministry possibility was my own selfish pride. I wanted to retain the right to say when and if I responded. My big obstacle was my ridiculous practicality.

Being practical has served me right in a thousand ways. I have learned to live on a shoestring. I can make the most of what I already have. Practicality has made me creative and given me plenty of chances to be content.

The flip side is this: sometimes Jesus isn’t practical…His plans don’t always make sense to the human brain. Often He will ask us to do things that seem unrealistic or even dumb. He asks us to take risks. To do things that no one has done before or to love people who are pretty unlikeable. He calls us to go to places where there aren’t any road maps. And sometimes He asks us to get a passport…just in case. So we can be ready at a moment’s notice to go on an adventure with Him.

Just because He can.

I sat there writing and praying that night and my heart shifted. It was if the whole future lay before me for a moment and I knew there would be places I could never go if I stayed firm in my practical disobedience. He wanted ALL of me. My future. My ability to travel. He wanted my passport. Now.
So surrender came. Offering up my life (again), I said YES to His plan for my future. Anything. Anywhere. Anytime. If you’ve walked long with Jesus, you know that saying YES to Him can be freeing. That’s what I felt in that moment as I tearfully gave myself over to Jesus…whatever that entailed. Even if it meant a passport WITHOUT a trip planned yet. He had me. All of me. I got all in the boat.

The next time I was in town, I picked up my passport application. Two days after that I got my passport pictures. Three days later I went down to our county’s big post office, signed my papers, swore that my info was correct and paid money to get the passport I didn’t need yet. (or did I?)
It’s funny how obedience can make you feel inside, especially when you’ve been holding out for six years. All the risks of looking stupid paled in comparison to the relief and joy that came from giving in to Jesus. As I stood on the massive steps of that old Post Office after signing the passport papers, I felt giddy. Excited. Terrified just a little, but thrilled to my core.

In that moment, standing there everything seemed new. The air. The colors. It was like the whole world was smiling. I know Jesus was, and that alone made me a happy camper.
Life is full of big and little choices. We must choose to follow Jesus, no matter how crazy, unpopular or weird it might seem. God calls us to courageous living. Brave decisions. Times of standing alone and stepping up…regardless of whether it makes sense. What is holding you back from following whole-heartedly? I sometimes wonder what kind of adventures with Jesus I missed in those six years I refused to get my passport. It’s a sobering and sad thought. One thing is for sure, I don’t want to miss out on any more opportunities.

It was less than a week after signing my passport papers when I heard His whisper again…buy a backpack. Really? A backpack.

This time, I responded a little faster. Maybe I rolled my eyes? However, this time no more six year waiting plans. I now have a backpack (thank you Amazon) and it’s the coolest thing you ever did see. It folds up into a little pouch and it’s a really neat green color. Would you believe it’s also got an emergency whistle on one of the straps? But that’s beside the point.

A passport and a backpack….and I’m sitting on the edge of my seat wondering: where will my adventures with Jesus take me? Ready or not, here I come! (Originally written for the Polished Cornerstones blog on April 16th, 2017.)

One Comment on “A Passport and a Backpack

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