Dear Rachel

I’m going to share with you a personal letter I wrote tonight to my friend about what God did in my life today.
How is Detroit?  Thanks so much for the letter.  I received it the same day that I mailed you the other letter.  Funny how that worked out.
I wish that we could talk in person…but I’m excited to see you in a couple weeks!  God has been doing so much in my life.  Today He really did a work in me.
You know how the past few months I really backed away from church because there was a lot of stuff going on in my heart?  I stopped going to my Sunday School class because I felt like God was leading me to spend that time with Him.  It was like a period of restlessness before a revelation, and today I got my revelation.  It’s crazy, but I’m finding more and more that we can’t decide how quickly we want to grow and mature in our spiritual walk.  When God makes a move, it’s in His time and it can come suddenly.  It seems like I waited forever, but now that it’s here, it’s exciting…and extremely frightening.
I think God needed to establish some things in my heart away from the church for a while.  I had a lot of questions…I guess the biggest one was this:  where is my place of ministry and what does that look like?  I also had a hard time trusting the church in general, or respecting it might be a better word.  You and I have had many conversations about that, and I’m sure we both can go on for many more moons about the subject.  That, mostly, is still something that is in process of being resolved.  However, I am learning that in order to follow God, I must be taught and learn from others.  I have learned that church is an excellent way to do that.  I must learn how to go in focused not on the people around me, but on God…that He can teach me about Himself wherever I go and wherever He leads me.  I must open the door to Him.
In church today Pastor Rick talked about the subject of worship, and he did tonight at church as well.  God really spoke to me about my personal and daily act of worship, and asked me the tough question about how I worship Him daily.  Worship isn’t just opening a book and reading a devotional in the morning.  Worship can mean so many different things, but it has to come from the heart.  How do I worship Him every day?  Well, He’s calling me to discover that soon…I’ll let you know how that goes.
God has also convicted me of my lack of passion for His Word.  Sometimes it seems like the subject of Bible study is so overwhelming…and couple that with the mentality of “I know it pretty well”…really, when it comes down to it…I’m 23 years old.  How well can I really know the Bible, especially if it’s living and active?  I’m not letting it change my life.  I’m not allowing that power into my life.  That needs to change.  Please pray for me as I prayerfully work on that in my life.
The biggest thing that caught me today was the meat of Rick’s message about the fields being ripe for harvest.  I knew immediately in my heart what that meant for me and what my personal mission field is:  IHOP.  That may sound ridiculous, but it has been my ministry for several months.  To be completely honest though, there are some things inside of me that I struggle with.  For instance, I’m still pretty shy and learning how to not be socially awkward…and I guess that comes with practice.  But mostly it came in the conviction that I go to IHOP a lot, but I haven’t gotten to know the people there as well as I could have, and there’s no sense in regretting the past.  I know that my mission is to come to know them better in the future.  Also, I felt really led that if I did anything with starting a small group of sorts, that IHOP was the place for that to happen.
I knew immediately what I had to do and when I had to do it.  So we’re starting a discussion group on Tuesday nights.  We’re going to open it up to discuss questions about life and faith, and to get to know each other better.  I really hope some of my friends that hang out there come.  I want it to be a place, regardless of religion, beliefs, or lifestyle that people could be really honest about their frustrations and hurts.  What frustrates me most about the church is that it seems that we place ourselves on a pedestal above the rest of the world like we’ve figured everything out or something.  Are you kidding me?  We’re just as messed up as the rest of the world…and definitely need a Savior just as much as everybody else.  The difference with us is, we have found the truth and hope that God has given us.  We haven’t reached a certain mark…the journey continues, and we all have questions that we wrestle with.  In my mind, what will speak louder than anything to those who don’t necessarily believe in Jesus is not our knowledge of the truth, but our willingness to be open and engage them in conversation.  We must get to know them as people, because GOD LOVES THEM SO SO SO SO MUCH.  The way they’ll see that love is how we love them.  I’m sick of hiding behind clichés when we all know life can’t be fit in cookie cutter phrases or problems solved in 5-step solutions. 
There’s my soapbox…
God really talked to me tonight…we had a young adult service.  He talked to me in a way they probably didn’t intend for.  They had a bunch of candles set up and one candle that was lit.  We could all go and light a candle to symbolize how God brought us out of darkness into the light.  What struck me as we were singing was how bright that little light shone when everything else around it was darkness.  I’ve thought about that before.  What I hadn’t thought about was when we all took turns going and lighting the candle, we had to reach our stick into the original candle in order to bring the light to the new one.  I realized right then that I don’t just want to be a little light in the darkness.  I want to allow others inside of me, to know the light that I hold onto that they might someday grab some of that light for themselves.  The view was spectacular with just the one candle lit; it was even more spectacular when they all were lit.
I was reminded of the darkness that God brought me out of.  I know that I was a Christian before this past year, but as Brandon Heath puts it, God put the light in me last year.  All of a sudden there was hope…there was life…there was a reason to live and love and breathe.  There was meaning.  Goody two shoes…yeah, that’s what they used to call me.  Gosh…here’s another thing that’s been on my mind today:
People think that I like to do dangerous things because I need the thrill of adventure.  I will admit, I like adventure and I like telling stories about my experiences.  However, and I can say this very honestly, the more that I love God, the more I want to take Him to the dark places.  These dark places are not necessarily “safe”.  A good Christian mission trip…not that interested.  I’m the type that would walk into a bar and look for someone sitting by themselves.  I desire to do things like that…not because of the thrill of danger…but because there is so much darkness in need of the light.  Hurting people are all around us, that’s true…but to me, for the love of Jesus to be real in my life, I need to be willing to risk everything for that love, that others that don’t even have a glimpse of that light might know it.  That has been such a burden on my heart.  I don’t even know if that makes any sense.
Anyway, this letter is getting long…I can’t wait to see you in a couple weeks!!!!  I hope things are going better and that God is teaching you lots!
Love you friend!

About the author chelseamaxine

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