Thank you for your ongoing friendship and partnership during this weird COVID season. Journey continues to make its programs and resources available on-line, and new opportunities, nationally and internationally, have been opening up.
Over the last eight weeks I've been able to offer multiple prayer trainings for volunteer leaders across Canada, as well as resource program leaders in other countries. So there is a silver lining in being "forced" to work on-line, and it is very satisfying to be able to provide support to more people around the world in this time. We remain hopeful and listening for what God is doing as we continue to discern and embrace the different opportunities that are arising.
In closing, I hope you too are keeping well in body, mind, and spirit. If there are ways I can be praying for you over the summer months, please drop me a line; I would really love to hear from you.
I want to leave you with what I hope is an encouraging story from a woman who was in my Journey Discipleship Course small group. It's also included in the 2019 Annual Report if you'd like to read more stories and information about Journey Canada.
Since I can remember, I have had trouble with making decisions.
I had a strategy of asking myself, "What should I do? Is this good or bad?" If an answer didn’t come immediately, I would often pray. Usually I didn't get a clear answer, so I would just say "yes." In a way, my strategy worked! People seemed to like it. They liked me. “I am good,” I thought!
A few years ago, I started feeling decision-making stress in a noticeable way. I felt panicky as I headed out into the day. My heart and head pounded, and my breath became short. I dreaded family and church activities and even celebrations with friends. I knew I needed to simplify, but my ask-myself, ask-Jesus, then-say-yes strategy was plunging me into exhaustion. Faced with how desperate I was feeling, I knew I needed something more. I had heard about how people experienced Jesus through Journey Canada, so I turned there for help.
From the beginning, Journey staff and volunteers shared so vulnerably about gaps they had experienced in their lives and how Jesus was filling them. Every week, vulnerable stories were told. I grew up with a Christian background but had not really heard this kind of open and consistent sharing. I felt a new kind of safety--safety from judgement. The structure of Journey created a safety net for me to be able to focus on what Jesus wanted to say.
One thing Jesus showed me was that I had experienced pressure throughout my life to be good and please others. With Asian roots on one side and missionary roots on the other, I wanted to do good things and be known as good. As a girl, the influences around me encouraged me to think that choosing good was the same as choosing God. The problem was, I lost focus on God.
Journey taught me that we can swing back and forth between worshipping others and worshipping self. I resonated with the idea of worshipping others because I often did what others said was good. Pleasing them made me feel good. I also resonated deeply with worshipping myself, wanting to see myself as good. Holy Spirit made it clear that my constant effort to chase this good and run away from bad was exhausting. During small group I shared, “I’m sick of being good.” I began to feel a new sense of freedom when my leader responded with, “That is good.” Jesus made it clear that He loved me before I did anything good, not because of it. God created me to reflect His image in a unique way and if I kept aiming for “good” I would miss out on knowing how much He loves me; the real me.
Since learning this, I have been trying to pay more attention to my identity in Him. At Journey, I heard the prayer, “Lord, tell me who You are today and tell me who I am.” I love this and am trying to make my daily decisions based on how I sense Him answering this prayer. These changes aren’t easy, since I run the risk of being seen as selfish or shallow—in other words “bad.” But being able to sit with Jesus and be real with him makes this discomfort worth it. I don’t need to be good anymore! I just need to be with Jesus! Hallelujah!
- Janice -