Do I have your permission to be honest right now?
Alright, I am going to proceed assuming you are intrigued and responded with a “Yes.” However, I do not want to neglect any of the “No” responders out there; in the off chance you responded “No,” feel free to disregard the rest of this post.
In all honesty, adjusting to life in Arizona as a missionary has been harder than expected. To provide a bit of context to this statement, I am a first-year missionary with SPO and moved from Minnesota to Arizona in August to serve at ASU. In all seriousness, although I love the weather in the midwest, I have always wanted the adventure of living in a warmer climate. Knowing my heart, the Lord called me to Arizona where I have enjoyed many days of … warm … above 100 degree … weather. Sidenote, I am just realizing how Minnesotan it is for me to be talking about the weather right now. Anywho, between the high temperatures and trapped arid desert dust, the valley of Phoenix has proven to be deadly for my allergy-prone immune system as I have battled several bouts of illness in these first few months. Besides the weather, there is a culmination of adjustments that anyone must go through when moving to a new place such as learning the “lay of the land,” building new relationships, and adjusting to new cultural norms (language, unwritten rules, common behaviors, extremely impatient and aggressive Arizona drivers, etc.). It is important to note that I share these things not to complain, but with a joyful and light heart as these things are all part of the adventure of life! However, these minor adjustments and challenges have been accompanied by a new influx of spiritual attacks (which comes with the territory of serving the Lord and is to be expected) that have proven to test my faith in a way I haven’t experienced before.
Maybe you can relate? Have you experienced a time where for one reason or another, you were repeatedly stretched? Stretched to a point of true uncomfortability?
From my experience, it has been during these times of my life where the Lord loves to “show up” in a powerful way. In these moments, He reassures me of His love, reveals His closeness, and asks me to trust Him. Last week, the Father again “showed up” in a powerful way during our household morning prayer. I want to share this encounter with you for two reasons: as a way to give thanks to the Lord and glorify His name, and to offer an encouragement to remain steadfast during any trials or difficulty, for our God is a faithful and all-loving Father who takes care of His sons and daughters.
Here is the journal entry I wrote recounting my experience during prayer:
“During our time of worship in morning prayer, I received a closeness to the Lord, and it was a sense that I was worshiping the Lord face to face in His kingdom. The image wasn’t clear, but I was singing to Him as if He were right in front of me. As worship closed, the Lord was there and I approached Him, kissing the wound in His left foot. As I prostrated before Him and held His foot, He picked me up and held me in His arms. I was a young boy. But I felt His heart beating against mine - He held me so close. This is the intimacy the Lord wants with me and all His children - to bring me so close, chest to chest in embrace, where our hearts can beat together, mine receiving from His.
In His heart is found all of the grace, desires, and will of the Father. And He wants to bring me close to hear His heartbeat in the silence. It beats for all of humanity; it beats to bring healing, restoration, and love.
The quiet heartbeat of an all powerful and all loving God is one that overcomes all sin, insecurities, lies of the evil one, fears, and all things which try to pull away His children. Coming close, drawing near to the Heart of Jesus is where my life becomes free, restored, true, and in accordance with who I was made to be. Without union with Jesus, it is impossible for me to flourish as a human, to live the life of joy, purpose, and love in which the Father intends.”
Will you allow Jesus to pick you up, hold you close, and listen to His heartbeat?
- Alex Spanton, first year missionary