Photo by Aly Badinger/1558 Visuals
“If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off?And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off.In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish” (Matthew 18:12–14 NIV).
June 2, 2019
One of the biggest things that the Lord has taught me over the last few months is intimacy. Intimacy with Him. Intimacy with my own heart. And intimacy in the relationship I have found with the Father. For those who know me, it will come as no surprise that I am pretty much an open book when it comes to my personality and the details of my life. Despite this, the Lord has been showing me the beauty found in keeping the intricacies of our relationship between just us. However, this is one of those intimate details I feel like the Lord has been leading me to share, so that His glory and goodness may be seen.
A few months prior to graduating from college, I felt the Lord pulling on my heart to step out in faith and pursue Him in ways that I never had before. This was a weird sensation for me because over the last few years, my faith had been pretty much nonexistent. I was in a place of doubt and was living in intentional denial of the Lord. Still, God never wavered in His pursuit of my life. Despite this dark season, I was unable to shake this feeling, so I finally decided to meet God in the middle and to take a leap of faith. This led me to signing up for a monthlong mission trip to Nepal through an organization called World Race. The result of this leap of faith? A radical change of my life, my plans, my identity, and my future. But, how did I get to that point?
As I prepared for Nepal, I had this kind of “picture perfect” idea of what my trip might look like. I figured in my head that I would go on this mission trip, and it would lookreally goodto those surrounding my life. Growing up in a small, private, Christian school, I always felt an expectation to create this outward image of what my relationship with the Lord looked like. Don’t get me wrong, I loved my experiences throughout high school, and I’m even more thankful for the incredible friends, families, and mentors that it brought into my life. However, whether it was my own expectations or just a product of the environment I was in, I always felt like I had to put on an outward appearance of being in this amazing walk with the Lord.
And the biggest problem? I was good at it. I mean really, really good at it. I could talk the talk, craft eloquent prayers in front of groups and overall just create a persona that made it look like I was on fire for the Lord. However, the reality of my heart could not have been more drastically different from the image I was portraying.
So when I arrived in tiny Gainesville, Georgia, for my weeklong training camp before leaving the country for Nepal, I was not really thrilled about it because it wasn’t exactly the start to the “beautiful” mission trip I had envisioned. However, those days in Gainesville changed my life forever. My faint prayer before leaving Lexington for Nepal was that the Lord would make Himself known to me in ways I had never experienced. And from the moment I touched down in Georgia, He did just that. From the shuttle ride to training camp to the first of many worship sessions to gathering around a picnic table eating meals with complete strangers, the Lord showed me His love and presence. It was the first time in my life that I had been surrounded by a group of people who were uniquely and genuinely on fire for the Lord with no motives other than living recklessly for Him.
As the Lord began to move in my heart over the first few days, I felt like He was calling me to completely surrender my life to Him. Sitting in one of our last worship sessions of camp, I had this immense feeling in my heart that I wanted to start my life over again and that the Lord was calling me to baptism. Little did I know this would be the beginning of not only new life, but also of my God story, which would lead me to quit my job to go to Spain for training at a Christian leadership academy (G42). However, I still had a propensity to want to create this ideal picture of my transformation. I sat in that worship session fighting against that feeling right then and there. Instead, in my head I figured I would wait until I got to Nepal, where I could have my baptism somewhere beautiful, like under a waterfall or in one of the serene rivers tucked on top of the mountains we summited. Well, once again the Lord stepped in with His blueprint instead.
Not being able to shake this feeling, I sat there amongst my disbelief and skepticism. Feeling like I could escape the Lord’s timing for my own timing, I prayed, “Lord, if this is what you want for my life and this truly is you right now, give me any sign of water.”It’s almost comical that I believed that this, something so small as a sign, would be too much for the Creator of the heavens and earth to manage. Yet still, I sat there almost proud of myself, believing I had escaped His alter call then and there, for something I believed would be more a beautiful act in Nepal.
Sidebar. Let me be the first to say that in many ways I have had a faith like Thomas in the Bible (John 20:25). Meaning, I always figuratively felt like I needed to really feel the holes in Jesus’ wrists to truly believe in Him. Essentially, I was extremely skeptical and doubting of the Lord. Healings, signs, prophecy, all of it I thought was a big load of bologna. Well, the Lord humbled me and changed my skeptical heart over and over again throughout my trip, especially during this moment.
About 10 minutes of worship had passed since I prayed that skeptical prayer when, all of sudden, a girl unknown to me from another group walked up on stage and asked for the microphone.
“Hey, I’m Kirby. Over the last few days I have been really praying that the Lord would speak to me. I had originally thought the Lord was going to speak to me, but I feel like He right now is wanting to speak through me. During the last few minutes of worship, the Lord really laid this image on my heart of this strong and beautiful cactus in the middle of the desert. The cactus had all of these big thorns all over it. And as I got closer to this cactus, the thorns one by one started falling off, until there were none left. Once the last thorn had fallen to the ground, the top of the cactus came off, and there was just this overflow of water pouring out of the top. I don’t know what that really means, but I just feel like the Lord meant that for someone tonight.”
Woah. I sat there in disbelief. I mean real disbelief. The kind when you have just seen a crazy magic trick or a car crash right in front of you. And again, I sat there and tried to rationalize in my head that surely this was just a coincidence. But, it wasn’t. Feeling that the Lord was giving me yet another opportunity to take a leap of faith for Him, the same way He did by putting Nepal on my heart, I decided I had to answer that call once again.
Still a little in disbelief, I found one of my trip team leaders and told her that I felt the Lord was calling me to get baptized. Fast forward 24 hours and I was on the verge of giving my life over to the Lord: In tiny Gainesville, Georgia, in a kiddie pool, in the middle of nowhere, with a bunch of strangers around me. And it couldn’t have been more beautiful. Whatever idea I had in my head of Nepali mountains or waterfalls to be baptized in, none of it could have measured up to the peace and freedom I found in that lukewarm, kiddie pool water.
The beauty of this part of my story is that it’s simply the beginning of many moments and experiences the Lord has orchestrated in my life over the last few months. However, despite the reasons for the different experiences that have led me on this journey, the Lord has kept one theme throughout each moment. A lesson that is both terrifying and freeing. In each part of my story, the Lord has shown me that to surrender to Him is to trust Him with a leap of faith. And when I take that opportunity and jump into the unknown for Him, He blesses my life immensely and then opens the next door for me to step through.
A Million God Stories is a Christ-centered ministry which offers a platform for Christians from all streams of Christian faith to give praise for how God has worked in their lives. Christ heals in infinitely creative ways and we acknowledge that His way of helping may differ from person to person.