A year ago I left my friends who became my family. I left the comfort of college life and everything that was normal to me. I left Norman, my home away from home, and moved to a small town in East Texas where I knew three people and had no idea where anything was. My world was flipped upside down. I was filled with self-induced anxiety to perform well as a first year FOCUS missionary. In a span of three months every aspect of my life had changed.
Within this discomfort I knew I had to hold on to the truth of my mission. At the end of Matthew’s gospel Jesus claimed all authority in heaven and on earth and said, “go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations…and behold, I am with you always.” My mission: to lead others to Christ and to rest with him. We are all called to this. We must rest with him in order to lead others to him. Just like we become like those we are closest with, we also become like Jesus the more time we spend resting in his presence. This was, and is, my strength.
What seemed impossible was now possible. Going to meet disciples for the first time, sharing the message of the gospel with someone I barely knew, or starting a bible study didn’t seem so overwhelming when I saturated it in prayer. In moments of confusion, doubt or desolation I sought rest at the foot of the cross with the comforting hand of our Blessed Mother. Making disciples wasn’t so difficult when I truly understood that this was Jesus’ mission, not FOCUS’s. He was doing the work, not me. All he was asking of me was to be open to his divine will and be faithful. The rest would fall into place. The degree to which I was open to him was the degree to which I was able to be fruitful.
This held true for more than just making disciples. Jesus wanted to enter into every part of my life. The more I trusted in his will with fundraising my salary the more he provided for me. When I invited the Lord to enter into a conversation about chastity and purity he provided the words that lead to a fruitful conversation. The more I did this, the more peace I was able to live with. My year started in anxiety and ended with freedom.
The Lord desires to know us, but he wants to be invited in. He’s the perfect gentleman. He will never force his will upon us. Let him into your heart. Tell him about the crosses you carry. St. Francis de Sales says, “The true value of crosses does not depend on their weight, but on how they are carried. At times it takes more virtue to carry a cross of straw than a heavy one.” Strength to carry our crosses comes from resting in his presence. Talk with our Lord. Trust that he is listening to every word you say. This is the most important relationship in our entire lives. It’s worth suffering and dying for.
Amanda (right) with one of her students at SFA
Blog post written by Amanda Graves, 2016 OU graduate and current FOCUS missionary at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, TX