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{Shepherd of My Heart}

I got back from Wilderness on Catalina Island about a week ago and since that time it has been non-stop busy, it’s amazing how much we need and desire to do on a daily basis.  After being away from most of civilization: no phone, work and the same group of people for 5 days the second I got back to San Diego I felt as if I was bombarded with so many things!  Wilderness wasn’t a “mountain top” experience for me as I was being told it would be, but more of a time for the Lord to shake my cup and see the overflow of what is really in my heart.  While there were some good things that came out, I was struck how much muck is coming to the surface while I am in the Refiner’s fire these 9 months.
One word I would use for the trip overall was challenging; mostly physical than anything else.  We hiked 22 miles over the course of a week with a backpack filled mostly with camp food and in the heat as well as rain and wind.
At times I truly felt as if I was the Von Trapp family in The Sound of Music at the end of the movie where they are walking through the beautiful Alps (I think it was the Alps!).  When I wasn’t mentally willing myself up each hill it was nice to take in the natural beauty of God’s creation, something totally God made and not man made!  During the hardest part of the first two hikes I was really struggling and my own strength just wasn’t enough.  It was at that time the Lord taught me a lesson as I was huffing and puffing up the mountain… My “weeds partner” from one of my first posts, Travis, grabbed my hand even though he was struggling as much as I was and literally willed me up the hills.  It struck me as I was giving him a hard time earlier about “toughening” him up that he was the very one supporting and encouraging me up those hills.  We each have strengths and weaknesses, but all are just as important in the church as well as to each other.

“For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.”

{Romans 12:4-5}

Once we finally made it to the top, Blackjack to be exact, I was relieved to know we would setup camp there for a couple days.  After emotionally and physically charged days of hiking everything came swelling up and I lost it, I just sat there in one of my friend’s arms crying and crying.  It wasn’t so much the broken kind of Jesus crying, but more of the selfish kind of crying!  I was wet, cold, utterly exhausted and so over being on an island.  It was then that the Lord began to show me how much I love to be comfortable, that I constantly seek comfortable situations, relationships and journeys.  As I sit here and write about this, even more is coming to mind.  My identity has been completely wrapped up in being comfortable…  Jesus didn’t come to bring us a comfortable life, He actually called us to an uncomfortable life.

“…In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

{John 16:33}

Our last full day on Catalina we had solo time with the Lord, we were woken up before dawn in complete silence and dropped off one by one just as the sun was breaking through.  It was such a sign from the Lord as all we had seen and experienced in the past few days had been wind, cold and rain.  After getting setup in my “tree fort,” where I would be for the next 10 hours, I immediately fell asleep (I was happy to know I wasn’t the only one later that day!).  Honestly, I slept for about 8 of the 10 hours, but in those times that I would wake up the Lord was faithful to meet me.  Here are some of my insights from that time:

  • Lord, be the Shepherd of my heart (Psalm 23)
  • My prayer going into Wilderness was asking the Lord to break down my walls and heal the hurts in my heart.  This had been my prayer for awhile, but I finally came to a point where I was ok with whatever that looked like to the Lord and not to me.  I knew the Lord didn’t need my permission to do anything, but knowing that I was finally ready to be broken was freedom.
  • Right after that revelation a chirping bird flew into the trees of my solo spot and after a few moments flew off, this represented true freedom and flying free and this verse came to mind, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not much more valuable than they?” {Matthew 6:26}
  • Ready not to live in the pain of my past or the fear of my future, but in the patient present… willing to be used!

Friday, the last day of Wilderness, was probably the best day of the whole week… showers, civilization, food, my phone and my queen sized, down comforter bed!  And the best part was that there were no uphills in our hike that day, just allllll the way down the mountain.  I was finally able to enjoy conversation with people and take in the beauty around me.  Just as we began our journey with sun, we ended it the same way.  Hiking into Avalon, the resort side of Catalina Island, was crazy!  Other than being so anxious to take a shower it was weird hearing cell phones, seeing cars and people dressed up from their vacation weekend.  I thought I was ready for the world again, but this past week has really proved that to be different.

It became very clear to me how many distractions I have on a daily basis and it isn’t so much with work and IMPACT, my commitments, but more what I do when I get home after a long day.  My life is filled with many mindless distractions and the one thing that comes to mind is: Facebook!  There is absolutely nothing wrong with Facebook and I’ve actually started treating it as an evangelism tool, but I was spending precious time online rather than with my Savior.  All things will pass away, but my relationship with Jesus won’t.  Having an eternal perspective seems easier being out of the world for a week and then being swung right back into it in a matter of hours!  So, I decided to go on a Facebook and distractions fast.  People have asked how long my Facebook fast is and I’m really not sure.  There isn’t a set time period for anything, just until I know my cup is overflowing completely with Jesus and not with Facebook, mindless distractions and the like.

So after that mini novel, thank YOU for all your prayers, encouraging words and verses, support and most of all LOVING me!  I wouldn’t be on the journey I am with Jesus and my IMPACT family if it wasn’t for each of you.  Our theme for Wilderness was loving relationships, so I’ll leave you with this…

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!

{1 John 3:1}

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