Those that know me (Chase) best, know that 2015 into 2016 were radical years for the restructuring of my faith. Robbie urged me to follow my passion for photography, to take a leap of faith and attempt my own business. Terrifying as it was, I quit my job in August 2015 and God showed up in a mighty way. And He had my attention. I shot 32 weddings in 2016, all word-of-mouth advertisement. I never expected it. My faith grew enormously. I was listening to the Lord, making time for Him and His Word DAILY, and my heart was being transformed.
Our church, Citylight Benson, launched with the intention to be a Holy Spirit driven church. Robbie and I were learning about the Spirit really for the first time in our lives and thus experiencing the full Trinity in our faith walks for the first time also. My huddle (a small group of either men or women meeting regularly to repent and lift one another up in the Gospel) women were instrumental in taking my curiosity for the Spirit and pushing me towards greater knowledge and greater passion for it. I had the beautiful opportunity to get prophesied over at Waypoint church in a safe, comfortable, and God-honoring way in the early spring of 2016. The men and women who prophesied over me were strangers who knew nothing of my story, yet they each prophesied a very similar message over me: That God would soon take me on this enormous adventure, doing things I never thought I’d be doing and using gifts I didn’t know I had. They remarked that this grand adventure that would soon unfold was not just for me but certainly for my husband too. That God hand picked Robbie for me a lifetime ago with this adventure in mind. I was so blessed and encouraged by this prophetic word and I carried these words with serious intention over the coming months. I was growing seriously in love with the Holy Spirit and I felt my heart being called to worship from when I woke up until I went to sleep. I was continually praying for His guidance. If Jesus needed to consult with the Spirit in order to help Him navigate His time here on earth, how much more do we, as humans, need to call on the Spirit for guidance (Luke 4:18)! Two months after my original prophetic prayer experience, I was able to attend again. This time around, I got a whole new group of pastors. And again, none of them knew my story or what had been prophesied over me two months prior. Amazingly, they were hearing remarkably similar words from the Lord. (All three of my amazing huddle women went to be prophesied over both times that I did and none of them walked away with a similar message to mine. Each were distinct, and unique to the lives that each of us lead. Appropriate to us all, yet none of the pastors knew us. Only God.) So this time, they spoke over me that it was clear my faith was growing, that God wanted me to know how proud He is of me, and that a great big adventure was soon to pass. They said that God had crowned me with a crown of loving kindness, and that He would use that character in me to bring people to the Lord. Again, I walked away praising God for his goodness, and feeling empowered to continue my journey in the Spirit. If we believe in this gift of prophesy (which I do), then how can we not be utterly humbled (awe-struck) by the God of the entire universe taking time to listen to the call of His children and respond? I am so insignificant, just one in 9 billion people, yet my Lord takes time for ME! This overflows my cup!! What a good and gracious God we serve!
One other important thing to note about my time working from home, I had time in my schedule for my first love: serving. I packed lunches at the Open Door Mission every Tuesday for 8 months, Robbie and I continued to lead a Bible study out of our apartment each week, I had time to disciple young women in my church, and then Robbie and I started volunteering with and teaching English to a local Karen refugee population in Benson (along with some friends from church) and our hearts have been changed forever. Because of the blessing of my flexible work schedule, I have the time and resources to develop meaningful relationships with our refugee friends outside of “class time”. Taking them to the doctor, helping them apply for state I.D.’s or just giving them their first experience of the “downtown slides” has humbled both Robbie and me, and we thank God that He has put these precious people in our lives.
In April of 2016, I was reading an inquiry for a 2017 bride and had a complete revelation. The Lord spoke to me and told me not to schedule work for Autumn 2017. It was clear as day to me. I think I’ve made it clear by now that my relationship with God in the months before this moment was so different then than it had ever been. I was giving Him my time, seeking Him daily, and my prayer was constantly, “What do you have for me today, Jesus?” I told Robbie what I heard right away when he got home from work. His trust and his faith were so evidenced by his immediate and non-hesitant response of support for me not booking anything past August 5, 2017 (my latest 2017 wedding already booked). We spent the next four months praying constantly– it was always on our hearts: “Lord, clarify what you would have for us in Fall of 2017. Help us to follow you.”
Robbie and I continued to pray into the prophetic words (and the other prophetic words that I didn’t mention here but were spoken over me, nonetheless) over the next couple months. We spent one Wednesday night in July on our knees in our living room, worshipping to music, and praying boldly. Praying impossible prayers over our lives and our community’s lives. I asked God if He would give me a vision. I’d never had one before but I had also never asked for one. It is my strong belief that sometimes God waits to open doors like spiritual giftings for the eager– the ones who specifically ask for them. I wouldn’t have recognized a vision for what it was prior to this season of my life anyway. I was actively pursuing Jesus and the Spirit daily now, and was ready for this responsibility. After some time on my knees, hands lifted high, and praying, the Lord gave me a vision. I saw myself in third person, climbing the tallest ladder. I climbed and climbed and climbed. I eventually reached the clouds, got off the ladder and sat on the edge of one of the clouds and looked out over all the countries of the earth. God was showing me the world and I didn’t know why. This vision was visually clear to me, but the meaning was unknown. I told Robbie about it as I had it and we prayed for the meaning. I was frustrated that I couldn’t explain my own vision. But ultimately I was so thankful God so graciously answered my request for one. I felt blessed nonetheless.
Somewhere at the end of July and early August, I heard from the Lord again. I was spending time listening, and couldn’t get “travel” out of my head. What did it mean? Was it just a fleeting thought or was it truly from the Lord? Robbie came home from work again. I sat him down on the couch and these were my words exactly, “I know there’s like a 4% chance you would even consider this, but I think we are supposed to travel over the course of Fall 2017.” Even though I doubted Robbie’s enthusiasm, he proved my expectations wrong by being so very receptive to the idea of it. He urged us to pray about it before we jumped into anything. We spoke about it the rest of the night and the rest of that week. We prayed constantly into this, every time we thought about it (which, for me, was nearly any moment I wasn’t fully attending to a task). It also aligned with the prophetic words spoken over me months before, and with the vision I had earlier in the month. I then told Brett and through the tears of complete assurance this was a door that God was opening for us, she said, “This doesn’t come as a surprise to me at all. This makes so much sense to me. You have to go.” Robbie’s work went above and beyond in saying he could leave for 5 months and still have his job when he gets back, so we felt like we had gotten all the green lights from God.
Here we are now. A little over a month away from our leave date: August 8, 2017. We will backpack Europe and then visit Southeast Asia. We are letting the Lord guide as we know He will. He has been so faithful and we are so pumped to see where these adventures take us.
Robbie isn’t a future-thinker, and that’s pretty much my middle name. I am asking God to help me live now, invest now, for we are not promised tomorrow. In fact, God tells us to ask for our DAILY bread because this moment is all we are guaranteed. Our biggest prayer that we have felt God impressing on our hearts stronger every day, is that Robbie and I would have an open heart to God’s call at any time in any place. That if and when we hear His voice, that we would go without hesitation. Our desire is that our hearts would be so aligned with the Lord’s that there would be no distinction between our plans and God’s plans for us. We have the word “missions” echoing in our brains at an alarming rate these days. And we’re under no impression that we have to be overseas to work out that word in our lives, but wherever it may be, let it be!
It’s amazing how a year ago when we decided this is what God was calling us to, I really wasn’t thinking much other than “Wow, God! This is so cool, and this is going to be so fun!” and I couldn’t wait for a year and a couple months to just pass so we could get to August 2017 quicker. But God’s timing is the most perfect timing. It’s evident in our hearts and our lives that God had a good work He needed to continue in Robbie and me before we were to take off. The last year was without a doubt a time of preparation for the coming season. Over the course of the last 12 months, Robbie and I have truly fallen in love with our church body (making friends with people who are entirely like-minded and Gospel-driven), our refugee friends (people who are culturally different from us, but have inspired us in their sacrificial lives and their love– there’s so much to learn from them!), and JESUS (His Word, His voice, His joy and peace and love)! I never knew Robbie could be more amazing than the day I married him, but he has so fully become my confidant, my voice of reason pointing me back to God and prayer when I’ve inevitably had anxiety about this next season. We have genuinely and wholeheartedly turned to a mindset of “There’s no such thing as a radical Christian. It should be the only type of Christian there is.”
I’ve been thinking for awhile now that we American Christians have it all wrong, myself included. I think we think going to church for an hour a week is us fulfilling our duty. But Jesus’ last words to His disciples in Matthew was “Go and make disciples of all nations.” Francis Chan said it best: “Jesus did NOT add “But hey, if that’s too much to ask, tell them to just become Christians, you know, the people who get to go to Heaven without having to commit to anything’.” We are called to SO MUCH MORE than what we are doing. And as Robbie and my hearts have transformed this last year, we are recognizing how hard it is to leave the work we have started with our partners in the Gospel here. We are recognizing the difficulty in saying yes to God’s plan even when the world might look at what we’re doing and not understand at all how this could be hard. But this trip is a step of faith for us, leaving our refugee friends and our unbelievable community, for an unknown but a very confident faith in what God WILL bring us into by showing us His earth and His people in different countries. We are so much more ready today than we would have been a year ago. We have gone from a selfish standpoint to an utter humbled position. We are bringing with us a hunger and thirst for Christ’s Word and his voice and plan. We are bringing with us an amazing love for each other in this marriage and a strong vision for full-time missions whether that’s in Omaha or abroad.
“I want you to see that the crazy people in this world are those who experience God’s love and remain complacent, not those who let go of all they have and follow Him completely.” -Francis Chan
God, I pray for your will on Robbie and my life. That we would be walking reflections of your majesty and goodness. I ask that we don’t take this opportunity for granted and that you use these travels to knit Robbie and me together so that we come away more unified than ever before. I also pray that we would encounter people along the way that we could urge toward eternity with just the light and love that can only come from You. I pray every day as we see this unbelievable world you have so boldly crafted with your own hands, that we would have a stronger desire for Heaven than for Earth. Lastly, I pray that your Kingdom come on Earth through your children. Let us be vessels, part of your army, that people cannot know us without knowing you. You are our treasure, Lord Jesus. Thank you for your love and kindness.
In His name, Amen.