I prayed for over 16 years to be able to go to Ireland. On February 15th that prayer was fulfilled. I remember when Ireland first came into my thoughts…I spoke of it as “her,” and courted it by reading about “her” and asking as much as I could about “her,” to anyone who had spent time with “her.” It was, by all accounts, a relationship that carried my heart.
As with any relationship that matters and demands the strength to endure more, there comes a time to have the infamous
“DTR” Define The Relationship. All the romanticism and epic dream-work that I had allowed to serenade my thoughts of Ireland had finally run their course. There comes a time when, no matter how compliant and patient Love is, you simply must taste, see and have it in front of you, confront every part of it, ask it for forever, and leave or stay with the answer given.
The entire endeavor to Ireland was steeped in potential future Missionary work, and much like that confronted Love I urged before, I had to come to see, taste, smell and be with Ireland. I’ve been trying dearly to lean into God on this trip and hear from Him what He would tell me about Ireland. As He would have it, He has been dousing all the remaining romantically lit notions I did not admit were still burning strong. He does this out of Love, for artificial light can never be kindled and therefore can never spread.
Ireland is no longer is just flowing red hair, cuddled green hills, endless brave sheep that fear neither traffic nor Americans. It is no longer historic pubs with old grizzled Irish men who speak with hospitable Guinness-kissed accents, or whimsical song and dance routines through cobblestone streets. It is also dirty…and dreary…and tiring, and wet, and spiritually dark and lonesome, and, and, and. All the while Ireland is relentlessly charming, again keeping with the relationship thought, was I to give my heart to it?
God spoke very clearly about Ireland to me. It came simply and strongly as I ran along the Irish coast in Galway with a random Springer Spaniel that had decided to tag-along for my early morning sojourn. My family grew up raising Springer Spaniels and so this was a welcomed playfulness from God as I considered very serious questions with Him.
I loosened my grip on Ireland and God simply asked me this, “Do you want Ireland or something else?” There wasn’t a hint of condescension in the tone nor was there a leaning toward one or the other as far as an answer go…It was simple…what do you want? This was odd because most of my crossroads with God have come with me asking that very same thing to Him. I’m learning however, as we all should and do, that God speaks differently to each of us. Some people have hearts that get ravaged and inspired by literature, and so the Great Author of Love meets them between the binding. I crave and need ownership of what I am doing for God. There is incredible power in God expecting me to make a move, trust Him and simply do.
And so I sat now trying to shut-up my fun 4-legged running partner who was barking incessantly. Me, God, Ireland and the 3 girls back at the b&b who I had traveled with. War feels most real when it can stare you in the face in the silence of just you and your choices. Peace has the same motives in such places: an overwhelming effort to come over someone in absolute power. I know for my heart’s sake, I was freed of a relationship and of a wonder that morning. I knew, miraculously to me, that I did not want Ireland. I wanted the something else. That said, I’ll admit, right then and there along that ocean, I still wanted Ireland. God has a way of thinning out the circumstance and making it simply about desires and Love that you would need to chase after whatever you are considering. It took a simple act of surrender in Ireland to let go of it.
I am, for the first time since I can remember considering missions as a life, free to dig in deep to the 3rd world settings of the darkest and most forgotten places ‘round the world now. And best of all, it feels of God. Ireland was being considered. The “something else” God offered me was being consummated. World’s of difference between the two.
For some of you who might have not known, God recently provided me with the greatest girl in the world, and wouldn’t you know it…she wants me to be her husband like nobodies’ business! I want her for a wife for all my life! And so, I have a helpmate to serve alongside in the Mission Field. Crazy part about all of this, God brought a woman into my life who has as deep, and in many ways a deeper, affection for the Mission Field. Our skills when combined are scary to the Devil and I love that we will one day be braving the Mission Field together…healing, Loving and burning the Hell right out of dark places with God’s light.
Mine and Teale’s love is about to get incredibly rambunctious for God in a way that only the drawing near of the Mission Field can do. Pray for us. Ask us what you can pray for and remember, we Love to pray for so many people. So, I dare your heart to find us.
With all my heart…