God Sent Me on a Mission Trip to Show Me Who He Is

“Emma, I didn’t take you on this trip so you could do great things for me. I took you on this trip to show you who I am.” 

The Lord spoke to me these words on the flight from Georgia to Guatemala, the beginning of what would be the adventure of a lifetime.

I had put months of praying, preparing, and expecting God to do huge things in and through me on this trip. I had so much faith for everything He was going to do, and truly felt like this would be a keystone experience of my life. I also believed and hoped that the Lord would give me some more clear direction about my future and post-high school plans.

I feel called to missions and sense a call on my life and career to something more than just typical. The way God led me to this trip and through even just the process of application and fundraising, it was so evident already that His hand was upon this trip in a mighty way. And the trip hadn’t even begun yet.

If I learned one thing on this trip, it’s that God is faithful. He’s never gonna let me down. He does what He says He’s gonna do, and He does it in mighty and big and beautiful ways we couldn’t have even dreamed up ourselves.

A week before the trip, as I was praying and seeking the Lord, He gave me a vision of a wave. He told me that I didn’t have to be the one to frantically doggy paddle my way through this trip, forcing things to happen, and striving and working so hard to fulfill the promises that He’s made over me.

He is the wave. And He would carry me through

On the very first day of training camp during devotional time, He led me to these verses in Psalm 138: “When I called, you answered me; you made me bold and stouthearted. Though the LORD is on high, he looks upon the lowly, but the proud he knows from afar. The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your love, O LORD endures forever—do not abandon the works of your hands.

I found so much peace in Him that very morning. He reminded me that He is the wave who would carry me through. He is faithful, and He sees me and knows me and loves me and won’t let me down. He showed me, taking me through past experiences in my life, how He has been with me the whole time. Faithful He has been, and faithful He will be. He is good and I can trust Him.

At training camp, I received such freedom and boldness in my identity in God and God alone, completely empty of everything I thought I was, climbing this mountain with my hands wide open to receive everything God is and everything He had for me this trip.

Partway through the trip, when we were on a boat ride across the lake to go zip lining, I had a chance to sit down, reflect, and be still before the Lord. Up until that point, I had been continually saying how badly I just wanted to see God move, because the first few days of ministry, I felt like I wasn’t totally myself, or completely in tune with everything He was doing.

Then I heard His still small voice: “Emma, stop saying how badly you want me to move, and open your eyes to how I am moving.”

It was like the lightbulb turned on, scales fell off of my eyes, and my mind totally cleared. On the hike up to the zip line, we passed by a waterfall. I paused for a moment to just take in how beautiful it was, and right there God spoke to me: “When water is at the top of the waterfall just sitting there, it’s stagnant in a pool. It’s okay, but it’s not truly what the water is meant for. When it lets itself fall, it becomes a beautiful waterfall. That’s what it was made for.”

In that moment, I knew the Lord was speaking that word over ME. I’m the water. And if I just surrender to Him completely, my hopes, dreams, future, everything that I am, He will make my life into something beautiful, like the waterfall.

We experienced so many more things throughout the course of the trip. We sang on street corners, made fools of ourselves in front of hundreds of kids (#oleletikitonga), rode everywhere on the back of pick up trucks, followed the Lord’s voice on our prayer walks, colored with children, declared over kids that they are “Hijos de Dios” by crowning them with Burger King crowns, used Spanish tracts to share the Gospel with a group of girls, spontaneously broke out in singing hymns over dinner with Pastor Antonio (that dude can SIIIING), drank lots of coffee, played innumerable games of signs and the hand game (my Holy Guatamole team, I love and miss y’all SO much), visited a 300 year old convent, climbed to the top of the city of Antigua, bonded with my teammates and became family over the course of just two short weeks, and so so much more.

Every single day was an adventure of following God’s voice, being flexible, stepping out of our comfort zones, serving people, and loving God with everything we had.

Sometime in the spring, when I was praying over the nation of Guatemala and seeking God’s heart for this trip, He showed me a picture of me playing with a sweet little girl, loving her, playing with her, teaching her, then picking her up in my arms and carrying her. She leaned over and gave me a kiss on the cheek, and it was such a sweet, beautiful exchange of love; we were both so impacted. I truly believed the Lord would bring this vision to pass in Guatemala.

On our last day of ministry at a school in San Juan, I especially bonded with two little girls. We spent most of the time together getting to know each other, drawing, coloring, and having fun together, and at the end of the outreach I realized how truly sad I felt having to say goodbye! I thought that these two sweethearts were the fulfillment of this vision God had given me. But God had something even more.

The night before our last full day in Guatemala, I spent time with the Lord in prayer, thanking Him for I everything I had experienced and praying for closure and just total peace and clarity regarding everything He had done. As I sat dwelling on His goodness, He revealed to me this—I myself was the little girl in the vision, and He, God, was the one loving me, teaching me, picking me up and carrying me, and partaking in this beautiful exchange of love.

In that moment I felt so tangibly the Father’s heart for me, and the whole purpose behind Him calling me on this trip, and every single thing leading up to it that He had spoken to me and done in my heart.

He did it all because He loves me.

Because He longs to take me in His arms and hold me and whisper His love to me. He loves me and cherishes me and wants good for me more than I ever could love Him or want good for myself. He is my good, good father. He was out for my heart this whole time.

Not just this whole trip, but all my life. 

He did not take me on this trip so I could do great things for Him. He took me on this trip to show me who He is.

I sit here writing this blog with tears in my eyes over the vastness, the greatness, the depth, the width, the length, the breadth of His great love. That He is such a big, holy, mighty, powerful God who is not limited by language or borders or culture or denominations, but is sovereign over all the earth.

That this God, this very God who spoke the world into existence, would speak to me words of love. And I laugh thinking of my own expectations for the trip—that God would show me specific direction for my future or that I could do great things for Him. This whole trip wasn’t even about the trip!

It was about Him.

He showed me who He is. To know Him is to love Him, and to know that He is faithful. I don’t need to know specifics about what’s next in my future because I know that He is with me. That He goes before me. That He will never fail me. That He is my good, good father. And that He is everything I will ever need.

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