Do Not Fear

I’ve read somewhere that the Bible says “do not fear” 365 times. “One for each day of the year.” I haven’t actually taken the time to count, so I’m not sure how accurate it is. But I do know that there’s a valuable message underneath that cheesy embroidery hanging on Grandma’s wall.

This world runs on fear; and if we’re not careful, it’s easy to slip into the mindset that “if I’m not actively worried about something, then I’m not being productive enough to solve my own problems.” Present examples: I know I’m supposed to go to Uganda for two months after graduation, but I don’t know exactly how it’s going to be funded. I know I love my community here in Nashville, but I don’t have a job lined up or a place to live when I get back in the fall. I know my dad’s been sick since I was 13, but I don’t know exactly how or when he’ll be healed completely. As a matter of fact, I can technically count the things I’m “certain” about on one hand. The uncertainty can’t be measured. This world continually gives me evidence of a giant mess to sort through, and it’ll only get bigger if I don’t start fixing things now. Time’s a tickin’.

Praise God that we’re called to be in the world, not of the world.

How arrogant of me to assume that I’m supposed to fix everything myself. How belittling of me to take away the sovereignty of the God of this universe. You know what worry is? It’s an intricately disguised, pride-based desire to be in control. I’m not designed to be in control; Lord knows everything would fall apart if that were the case. I was 15 seconds from burning my grilled cheese earlier this afternoon…. don’t make me figure out a new budget incorporating a hypothetical monthly rent and a hypothetical income. I like to think I can do it just fine; but don’t actually make me give you every concrete answer about my life. I’ll freak out.

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Bottom line: yeah, I could very easily run around in circles freaking out about the unknown. It’s human nature, after all. But why grow gray hairs when I could remember that I wouldn’t even be where I am if it wasn’t providential for me to be here? The second I surrendered the details to a God who knows what He’s doing, He brought people to my life to help me. He gave me more than enough resources. He gave me a solid work ethic (praise). Why would He bring me here if not to carry out His plan for me and my life? Let’s be honest; He’s probably laughing at me every time I choose to forget that He’s actually holding my hand to guide me through life. He’s held me in the palm of his hands for 22 years now, I don’t know why He’d drop me all of a sudden. I wish I never lost sight of that picture, but sometimes I do. Sometimes I try to take back what I already surrendered. And He graciously gives patient reminders whenever that happens.

“Daughter, I’m going before you. I’ll be right here the whole time; I won’t fail you or forsake you. So quit freaking out.” (Deuteronomy 31:8)

“What’s next?”

The ultimate question. I know I’m not the only one who’s gotten this question roughly half a million times; I’m not the only one graduating in a month and a half. I used to dodge it like my life depended on it, but for almost a year now I feel like I don’t have to anymore. I may not have a permanent answer, but I definitely have an immediate one. And the coolest part is that I’ve been preparing for this without even knowing it for a while. His plan, not mine.

On June 8th, I’m deploying to a small village in west Uganda for two months. After a lengthy application process and a heap ton of prayer (“heap ton” = a lot. Raised by a southern woman.), World Harvest Mission offered me an intern position with their team in Bundibugyo (http://www.whm.org/). I’m spending the summer with some seriously awesome people halfway around the world. There’s a secondary boarding school in the village run by long-term missionaries, so I’ll be all-hands-on-deck for anything they need me for. That could be running programming after school, cooking in the kitchen, or playing with kids that never want to stop playing. I also could be helping out with the newborns in the local clinic. Wherever I’m needed, I’ll help. And in the meantime, I’ll be mentored and taught by the missionaries there.

Bundibugyo

When I tell people about this, the biggest question I get is “Why on earth, Ashland. Seriously, why.” And I can hardly blame them because this seems like the world’s biggest, most inopportune detour. I’ve been given so much to look forward to in the career world, and I cannot wait to jump into that. I really can’t, I promise. But sometimes your heart speaks louder than your head and you have to put life on hold for a little bit. Especially when Africa’s been nagging you for a year and a half. I’ve been waiting for the Lord to give me an opportunity, and He’s done it. So I’m going. And I can’t wait to tell everyone about it.

That being said, I can’t get there on my own – World Harvest requires their interns to raise the support needed to complete the internship. I need to raise $4,775 by the end of May to cover the internship; and this is where I graciously ask for your help to get me there. Chances are that letters and emails will be coming your way if they haven’t already, but I wanted to post a way to donate online as well. If you’re able, just head on over to my personal WHM donation page: http://www.whm.org/give/missionary?ID=26051 and fill out the donation information to participate in this really cool experience. If you prefer writing a check, please let me know and I’ll be MORE than happy to explain how that works.

I can’t put into words how thankful I am for each and every person encouraging and supporting me financially, emotionally, or spiritually. Regarding life in general and regarding this experience. There have been countless teachers, family members, family friends and even employers who have pushed me to do this. I’m going because God wants to teach me and show me things I can’t learn here, He’s made that crystal clear.  The people of Bundi are in His hands; and I’m just excited to play a part in His plan for them. I could honestly talk about this for hours, so please don’t hesitate to reach out if you want to know more! In the meantime, thank you thank you thank you for your donations and your prayers. Of course, those prayers are requested in every way imaginable. 

Life’s about to get real, y’all. AND I’M SO EXCITED.

All my love (seriously, all of it),

Ashland