Monday, September 29, 2008

A New Direction

Taken from Brio Magazine...

"In just a bit, I'll be driving three hours north to the town where I grew up. My clothes are crammed (uh, packed, I mean), my cell phone is charged, and my iPod is in my purse. I wish you were here, too, so we could load up on junk food, sing along with my (very random) travel mix and talk about what's going on in your world. Road trips are always fun, and this one is especially interesting, because I'm headed 'home.'

"Ironically, when I lived in that 'home,' I spent a lot of time thinking about leaving.

"I loved my parents and friends, but I was desperate to see the rest of the world. I pored over my mom's old copies of National Geographic, memorizing the faces and countries profiled there. Those people with beautiful dark eyes and strange customs seemed so interesting to me. I wanted to see their worlds. I wanted to hear languages I didn't understand, see the sun set over flatlands instead of mountains and be captivated by some dreamy European city.

"I wanted to go somewhere different. I wanted something new. I felt like my heart would explode if I didn't get to touch, taste and see the world past my mountains.

"The longing erupted in high school. I don't know what was stronger - my desire to see a new place or my desire to be seen as a new girl. I wanted to go somewhere I could be undefined. I felt people already knew everything about me there was to know in that place.

"I knew everything about me too. I needed to go somewhere I could reinvent myself. Take some risks. Becoming is so awkward, isn't it?

"And so I wasn't suprised today, when I'm about to drive back into all those memories, the words in my time with God echoed my heart's cry at 18:

"'Sing a new song to the Lord,' Psalm 96:1 says.

"That's what I wanted: a new song. What I didn't realize is that a new song didn't come with a continent change. Sometimes the most beautiful new songs in my life have a way of finding me exactly where I am.

When I find myself in a season where I feel stuck or a place where I feel restless, I know a couple of things could be brewing in my heart. Sometimes, I think God gives us a gentle prompter to get out in the world and love His people.

"If you experienced missions in any form, whether in your hometown or another world away, the gentle prompter probably started to feel like a swift kick in the pants after a while. Every sermon you heard seemed to be confirming a calling in your heart to missions. Everything you read connected your mind to something you've been praying for.

"Suddenly the $2,000 that seemed impossible to imagine is almost together, your parents have a peace about the whole thing, and your friends and excited for you. The fear of the unknown gives way to the joy of carrying the love of Christ into the world. And you go.

"I've learned so much about God by getting out into the world and seeing Him working there.

"But I've also learned so much about God and experienced His love, when He breathes life back into dreams, responsibilities and goals I have exactly where I am. The restlessness in my heart can also point me back to an adventure I'm missing that's already happening around me.

"When the psalmist tells us to sing a new song to the Lord, he follows it with this proclamation: Let the whole earth sing to the Lord!

"And whether I'm running through the rainy streets of some European supercity or sitting at the boat dock on my sister's farm, I can still sing a new song to God. I can still feel that rush of excitement and adventure that comes with taking Him up on something new.

"Restlessness stirs in my heart for a reason. Sometimes I need to change my environment, but more often than not, I just need to change the song in my heart.

"I need to remember that my purpose is exactly where I am. I need to remember what I love and why. I need to find somewhere to be alone and worship God in a way I haven't worshipped Him in a while. Sometimes when I worship Him in a new way I feel closer to Him. As long as we worship God in spirit and truth (as Jesus tells us to do in John 4), I don't think one method of worship trumps all the rest.

"But worshiping God in a new way pulls me out of rote formality. I may not know the words by heart. I may not know what I'm doing. I'm just giving Him a moment of spontaneous love. I have a feeling those moments are precious to him.

There was a longing in my heart at 18 much stronger than seeing the world or falling in love or finding the perfect college. I wanted to know God fully. I wanted to fall deeper and deeper in love with Him in that season of my life. I wanted to experience Him on different continents and with different people, and I did. But some of the sweetest times in my walk with Him so far are moments He bacame real to me in my hometown.

"He isn't just the God of my amazing, blow-my-mind-and-see-the-world days. He's also the God of my faded-jeans-and-flip-flops days. Sometimes my soul is just longing to sing a new song. When I do, that song has a way of becoming the soundtrack for an adventure I never saw coming. I don't want to miss that for anything"

-Natalie Lloyd

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