We Talked, But I Didn’t See His Face

Jesus Chats
Tonight as we were sitting together in the family room watching the news, my Granny turns to me and asks, “Have you raised any money yet for your trip?”  It always makes me shudder a little that she refers to the calling to be a missionary I have surrendered to as merely a “trip.”  Brushing the mental note of her using that term away, I responded with a “No.”  I’m not sure what annoyed me more, the fact that she asked or the fact that I have no funds in my support account.

Worry tried to sneak it’s vicious head into my thoughts and into my heart.

I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God called me to The World Race.  I know that I can do great things through Him while I’m on it.  I know that it is where I am suppose to be.  And I know that as of right now, I have only $150 of the $16,285 that I must have to go.  I am also acutely aware that there is no way that I, myself, can come up with that money in the 250(ish) days until I am set to leave the country.

See why I was so vulnerable to worry?

My Granny asked me another question right after my response to the first.  She asked, “Well, do you still plan to go?”  Defensively I said, “Yes, Granny.  I am still going.  Why would I not go?”   She retreated from her questions with an “I don’t know”, but we both knew what she was thinking.  She was thinking, how could I go if I didn’t have the funds?

I know that’s what she was thinking because that’s exactly what I keep thinking.  I haven’t any donors yet.  My family is in no position to say, “Here Mary Elizabeth, we’d like to give you $16,135 to complete your funding needs for the World Race.”   I have no doubt my sisters alone would gladly do that if they could.  But they can’t.  And I know that.

I keep thinking:  If I had known at graduation that this would be my life trajectory instead of law school, I could’ve gotten a job back in May, not signed a lease and had to be paying it long after I moved back out of that apartment, saved on the expense of moving (twice), and the list keeps going on.  That worry snakes it’s way deeper and deeper into my thoughts.

And then there’s Jesus.
When everyone and every situation seems to keep telling me “this is virtually impossible” or “you haven’t enough time” or “your needs are too great,” Jesus offers up the truth.

He says, “Mary Elizabeth Bailey, do I not love you?  Does My Father not love you?  Didn’t He send me to die so that you can live with Us and rest in Our love for eternity?”  Of course, I’m over here with teary eyes saying, “Yes, Jesus.”  And Jesus continues on saying to me, “Do the birds of the sky worry about being taken care of?  Does My Father leave them without food?  And the flowers that adorn the Earth and remind you of natural beauty created straight from the hand of the Father, do they worry that there is no one to clothe them day after day?”  And I answer with tears still in my eyes, “No, Jesus.  I know our Father takes care of them.  But —”   And Jesus cuts me off saying, “But what?  But you do not think He has the power to take care of you?  You do not think that when you died to sin through my blood that the Spirit within can work to take care of you?  You worry, but about what?!  The birds are fed, the flowers are clothed, and Father doesn’t even love them near as much as He loves YOU.”   Ugh, sometimes I want to cross my arms like a toddler and pout when Jesus calls me out.  He’s right.  He’s always right.   But instead, I just sit with a half-smile on my face.  So Jesus goes ahead and says, “I’ll remind you again:  I love you.  Father loves you.  You have no reason to worry.  When you worry, it’s like you are doubting Him.  We can both agree that doubting Abba Father’s love and provision is crazy, right?  Look at what I have been through.  Look at what you have been through.  Has He not provided every step of the way?  So child, stop worrying.”  I can’t help but smile now.  There’s just something about being told that I am loved and being shown the truth.  Truth sets me free, and this time I’m being freed from the chains of worry.  How dare I doubt my Father!  I tell Jesus, “I’m sorry, Jesus.  I don’t doubt Father God.  I know He’s taking care of me and that He always will.  I need Your constant reminders, so thanks!”  Jesus wipes the drying tears from my eyes and tells me, “Just seek God and His righteousness.  When you do that, not only do you have no time to worry, but also you’ll be awed with the perfect provision He gives.  Don’t worry about tomorrow — or the next day or the next day or months down the road.  Father has you taken care of.  You can’t see it, but I can.  Trust me.  I love you.”   He never ends a conversation without making sure I know that He loves me.  Ah, what a sweet Jesus!

After this chat all I can do is continue to trust in Him.  Trust in the One who made me, called me, and loves me.  Trust the One who provides for me always.  All I can (and want to) do is what Jesus told me — stop worry and seek God.

If you are knee-deep in worry and your heart is feeling overwhelmed, I encourage you to have a chat with Jesus.  I promise you, He loves you just as much as He loves me or anyone else.  He wants you to bring your worries to Him.  My chat with Jesus came from Matthew 6:25-34 tonight.  Yours can, too — if you want.

Love you, my sweet blog readers!
And so does God.
He actually loves you much, much, MUCH more than I could possibly imagine loving you.  🙂

P.S. I actually am leaving in July 2014 to go across the world (11 countries in 11 months) to bring the message, the hope, the love, and the light of Jesus to people I have yet to meet, but already have places in my heart.  I DO need $16,000+ in my support account to be fully funded.  I am confident that God will use His people (many of you reading this) to make this happen.  So, if you feel led to make a donation (which is actually tax deductible — yay!), you can go to my World Race page (http://maryelizabethbailey.theworldrace.org/) and click “Support Me” on the left side.   Even if you can’t donate, I welcome and ask you to check out my page and the World Race site in general to get to know what I have been called to.  🙂

Altar of Praise or Battleground?

Stand Still.  Praise.  Watch.

Stand Still. Praise. Watch.

I don’t know about y’all, but for my daily readings I tend to gravitate more to the New Testament, or if in the Old Testament regularly stick to Isaiah (my absolute favorite book of the Bible), Psalms, and Proverbs.

However, lately I’ve been drawn to the other books in the Old Testament.  Today I was namely drawn to 2 Chronicles.

A favorite story of mine from 2 Chronicles stars King Jehoshaphat and the people of Judah in the face of three armies outnumbering them.  The people of Judah did all they knew to do (under the direction and guidance of Jehoshaphat) in the face of overwhelming circumstances — they prayed to God and asked for His help.  They petitioned their Rescuer to come and save them.  They knew that their power was too weak, but that God’s was strong enough.  They believed in the might and power of God to save them.

In 2 Chronicles 20:13-24 God tells the people from Judah that they do not need to fight the three armies coming after them.  In fact, God tells them to “position yourselves, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord” in verse 17.  Above that in verse 15, God tells the people of Judah who are depending on Him that “the battle is not yours, but God’s.”

Oh how precious that when we are seemingly cornered and outnumbered – whether that be by people, burdens, circumstances, or whatever – God is mighty enough and loves us enough to take the battle for us!  So many times I want be the one in control and on the front lines trying to determine the outcome, but God is saying, “Child, just stand there, praise me, and I’ll do the fighting.”

Here’s to giving up control to God and being joyful in simply being still, praising Him, and living in the victory of my salvation in Him.
(I think I was made more for praising than fighting, anyway.)

Why God’s Calling Is Greater Than My Plans

The day that my whole life changed...

The day that my whole life changed…

It is an honor to be accepted into a good law school.
It is an even bigger honor to be given a scholarship to law school.
I have been honored, but more so blessed.

I finished 1L Orientation week last Friday, which means a week spent at the law school 9am-4(ish) being “broken in.”  Mock classes, real classes (just Legal Research and Writing), lots of networking, case briefing, listening to speaker after speaker, being given a ton of new things (mailbox, locker, passcodes for material, class lists, etc.), and anything else you can imagine to go along with an orientation for law school.  It was a good week, sort-of like “law camp.”

I learned that law school isn’t as scary as people try to make it sound, or at least it doesn’t seem like it.  I found that going through orientation I am even more confident that I could succeed in law school.  (Please don’t mistake this confidence for arrogance.)  I learned that as pretentious as a lot of law students are, there are still the good ones in every class.  I think I found those “good ones”, too.  I now can say without a shadow of a doubt that I know I am capable to get through law school, and probably even enjoy almost all of it.

To all of the beautiful friends I made in that one week: I barely know you but I know you have a BIG future to walk into.  Each one of you is going to go on to do great things, either as a lawyer or as something else.  You hold a place in my heart and I will be praying for you all as you go through this law school journey.  You have a good community in the U of A Law School Class of 2016 – take care of one another (especially of my dear friend and roommate, “T”).  Friendships are never by chance, so know that God above put each of you in one another’s path for a reason.

I asked my Heavenly Father to let my law applications find favor.  He did.  I asked Him to provide – He did.  But then I asked for something else:  I asked for Him to give me complete and total surrender to Him and His plans for me.  I asked Him for direction.  I asked Him to use me right now where He knew I could shine brightest for Him.

It’s true what they say:  “Don’t ask for something if you don’t want it.”

I wanted God to give me what I asked for: a surrendered life, obedience, direction, guidance, which all comes down to: a calling, His calling for me.  Right now.  In this moment at this exact second in life.  Every single day.  Every minute.  Every moment.  That’s what I wanted and that’s what I continue to ask for.

The thing is, after I started asking God for that which is listed above and truly meaning it, something changed.  My carefully laid out plans didn’t seem quite as significant as they once had.  In fact, I couldn’t help but think there was something BIGGER planned for me, if only I let Him do the planning.

That’s when I realized:  law school isn’t the biggest plan for my life right now.  Read those last two words again.  Right now.  I have no doubt that God gave me a passion and capabilities for the law.  I have no doubt that God set everything up for me from my inquisitive nature and natural inclination to persuade to placing me in undergraduate classes that taught me basic skills needed for law school success like how to read court cases and brief them (thank-you, Dr. Hacker).  I sincerely do not doubt that at some point in my life I will go to law school and become a lawyer.

However, the question is when.  I have been struggling for weeks with the decision to go ahead and attend law school or not.  It’s hard when you have an amazing opportunity and confidence in yourself to fulfill the responsibilities therein, but yet you don’t feel at peace with going through with it.  It’s hard to willingly exile myself from this community of beautiful, big-hearted, wonderful people I just barely became a part of.  It’s hard to leave something I enjoy and am capable of doing.  But guess what?

Faith is hard.

If I truly have the trust and faith in my God that I claim to have, I will trust in His plans for me and confidently hand over my own.  Yes, I have a lease that I signed for a year in Fayetteville that I either have to pay or get someone to take over (if you or someone you know is interested in an awesome apartment, let me know — please!).  Yes, I have no job lined up, especially here.  Yes, my savings are getting smaller and smaller since I haven’t been employed since May.   Yes, it’s scary to give up your careful and well-made plans for uncertainty.  But that’s what faith is.  I can’t see the future, but I have faith in God to provide for me to follow the path He has laid out for me.  I don’t know what is going to come my way, but I trust that God does and I have faith He will carry me through it.

Now, let’s talk about what faith does.  Faith moves mountains.  Faith heals the sick.  Faith overcomes death.  Faith makes change.  That’s who I want to be:  a world changer, with the most literal definition possible.

I wear a ring every day that says, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”  Pretty simple, right?  The change I wish to see is people treating one another with love and respect and genuine care for their neighbor.  I wish for people to look for justice in the right places and lavish mercy on one another.  I wish for people to know that there are second chances.  I wish for people to know that it doesn’t matter what you “can” do – it matters what you are called to do.  I wish for people to know that there is a mighty God who loves them more than anyone or anything ever can.  I wish for each person to know that they are important.  I wish for people to know how precious each one of them is, a preciousness that is not contingent upon their past, what they have or have not done.  If I embody those wishes every day and spread that to the lives I meet, I think the world would change – at least for some people.

I’ve been thinking long and hard for months now about this thing called the World Race.  Some of you, if you know me well, know about The World Race.  I mentioned it several times between last winter (or late fall) and now.  For those of you not acquainted with The World Race, it is a mission trip in which you go to 11 countries in 11 months spreading the love of Jesus.  This can be seen in a lot of different ways – prison ministry, helping build or rebuild homes/churches/schools, playing with kids who often feel unimportant and unloved, caring for and helping widows, teaching English, etc.  It’s an all-together amazing ministry.  If you have time and would like to, check out the website:  www.worldrace.org

I know that following God’s plans for our lives and living like He wants us to is not always found in mission trips.  I know that ministry is found everywhere:  in an orphanage in Romania, at a church in Turkey, in the slums in Thailand, or even somewhere like the classroom of a law school.  There are no parameters to where you can minister to people in action.  I mean, we see from the Bible that Paul even made prison a place of ministry.  I want you to be clear that I’m not saying that I could not spread the love of God in law school or that doing so there is less of a ministry than on the World Race or any other mission trip.  It’s not.

But, and that word is such a “changer” in and of itself, I believe God calls us to our ministry wherever it is and it’s high time I start listening to that calling.  To illustrate, there is a fantastic woman that I worked for all through college named Linda.  She not only became like a second mom to me, but she was (and still is) a spiritual rock for me.  I have no doubt she is for others as well.  Linda isn’t a preacher.  She isn’t in some forgotten, impoverished community sitting down with people who never heard of a man named Jesus and telling them the Gospel for the first time.  Linda works on a college campus at a science research facility.  She lives the Gospel everyday by loving those she works with, works for, and those who work for her (like me).  She prays diligently for those that intersect her life.  Her calling is there.  She knows that.  She lives that.  And trust me when I say, it’s a beautiful thing to see and be a part of.  (Thank-you, Linda!)

I want to be like that.  I want to live according to my calling.  I want to be able to act with love and patience daily to those I encounter.  I want to feel the divine calling of God with each person He places in my life and each step I take, whoever and wherever that is.  For me, I think my calling is the World Race.  Right now – not five years from now.

Now, the World Race is a process:  you have to apply and be accepted into a Route.  Then, you have to be properly vaccinated, get a passport if one is not already had, acquire the necessary gear, and the big thing – come up with the funds.  The World Race is not free.  The monetary cost is  $15,500, without figuring in travel insurance or any “spending money” during those 11 months for things like shampoo, soap, socks when what you bring wear out, and other things.  That’s a lot of money for a just-graduated-college twenty-two year old like me.  The government will give you loans to go to law school, but not to fund an 11 month mission trip.

So here we are:  I have withdrawn from law school to pursue my calling to go on the World Race.  I have no job (I’ve applied places, I promise), I live 4+ hours away from my family and all the people who love me, and I am stuck with this lease until July 31, 2014.   I want to leave on a World Race route in this upcoming year – 2014.  I’m going to try to be that change I wish for in 12 countries – starting with this beautiful place I call home, the United States of America.  But until I embark on the World Race, you will find me not in law school.

Ending note:  I sincerely apologize to all of you who may feel disappointed in my choice.  To every classmate, friend, family member, and past professor – I can only hope that you can support my calling as you have my plans that I had made for myself.  I can only pray that each of you who may feel some sense of betrayal (trust me, I almost feel like I’m betraying myself) can realize that God has bigger plans for me than either you or I could dream up – and I want those bigger plans.  Also, don’t give up on me being a member of the law community.  Just because I am not starting my law career (which begins as a 1L, per the words of orientation speakers) this year does NOT mean I won’t in a future year.  I hope as much as many of you do that my future will include law school.  If any of you want to hear a more detailed account of things, just let me know and we can discuss it all.  For all of you who have been generously supportive of law school, thank-you.  It means a lot to have so many people believe in you.  Truly, it does.

There will be more to come…