I just got finished reading Seth Barn’s Kingdom Journeys and it was a huge eye opener as to what I’ll be experiencing spiritually in the next year to come. It answers the question: Why do we go?
I am going because God gave me the gift of restlessness, He called me to go, gave me that heart for travel, other people and ministry. I may not be the most outspoken person and I may suck at calling people on the phone, but in the past few days, I’ve talked on the phone and made calls to people I have never met face-to-face more than I have in my entire life. This journey is taking me far outside my comfort zone – but it is necessary.
I wonder if it’s the same for people that stay in communities or situations that are familiar to them, or if there is some under riding reason why they really stay when their heart has really been wanting more all along. Because there are a lot of possible reasons people decide to stay:
- A Lined up Job
- Relationships / Friendships
Or maybe God has called some to stay put for a while… I don’t really know.
Maybe I’m a cynic. Maybe I don’t trust the intentions of others hearts fully. I know this is a “me” thing that I need to get over and work on. But it bugs me for some reason… Whether or not I signed up for the World Race before graduating, I do believe that I would have left the ENC Community, maybe I wouldn’t have… There’s really no way to tell right now because I’m leaving for launch in 38 days. Yes, I just said that…. 38 days. I need someone to pinch me daily to remind me that this is actually my life that I am living.
I know a very large place in my heart is always going to be reserved for ENC. I haven’t really begun that process of mourning yet… Where I actually, physically think about not going back, because to be honest, all this time I’ve just thought, “Oh hey, I am going back, I’m going back and I’m going to be with all of my friends and go to classes and sit in chapel, graduation was not real, etc…” But no, that reality is not happening.
As I see people preparing to head back so soon, I am here trying to fundraise, gain support, and think of ways I can fundraise as I am gone as the holiday season of fall, thanksgiving, and Christmas approaches. I am thinking of going home in four weeks so I can spend time with my parents for a little under a week. And then I am still thinking about going to ENC to say goodbye for a day and night before I really fly to Atlanta for my last days of Training and then flying to Uganda.
Maybe visiting a place I love, with so many people I love within its walls will rip my heart in two, but isn’t that a good thing? To have places like that? Where you know you gave all you could in your time and leave because it’s been in the design God had for you all along…? Pain sucks, but sometimes it’s a good thing, because it means that at least you know you left what little thumbprint you could on some of the lives who are still within those walls. Still within that city.
I am going. God called me, and I have to go. I have to step forward. I have to leave ENC behind so I can step into the “greater” that God has commissioned me for, has been preparing me for, etc… I don’t have a choice but to step forward. I am excited. I think about it every day and my heart bursts in anticipation of seeing the faces of my squad again in person. They are my tribe, the people I travel with and who will “get it” when we return.
It is only a year, but my God, it would be beautiful to have a send off party from Boston. I was secretly hoping that there would be a nonstop one-way flight that was cheap so I could maybe see my friends that mean so much to me before I go, maybe have a group of people who cover me in love, prayer, and hugs and send me off for the year outside the airport. If it is anything I want before I go, it is that.
But why not stay, you ask, when it is so hard, heart-wrenching even?
Because I have been called. Because I can’t afford not to go. Because there is greater and there are stories out there that I need to hear, learn from, and bring back. Because, to me, and to God, it is worth it. Every tear, every hug, every send-off, every goodbye, every prayer, every penny spent on this mission. Worth it. Because staying would only hold me back from the way God wants to show me His love, truth, light, trustworthiness, and a life lived alongside Him – His gift to me, tailor made.
Because Faith drives Love, and it is the only thing I hunger for.
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If you are reading this, and want to help me in my mission, you can visit my World Race Blog and donate through that avenue. It would seriously mean the world to me. to have your support in whatever way you can give. Visit: ashleycook.theworldrace.org
All my Love.