In the first blog of our Grow with God series, World Race: Gap Year Participant Valerie Maddox shares about how choosing to be present with God has allowed Jesus to show her where she needs to grow and impacted her relationship with God.
I’m currently sitting on a plane and was just watching part of my vlog from Month One Debrief. I was looking at a screen of people dancing, singing, laughing, encouraging & loving each other, and so much more.
Those people are my family.
I looked at them and at the beautiful image of the community that we live in. It almost felt as if I was getting a sneak peek into what heaven will be like. Rejoicing with each other always and forever because we all live for and love the same God. We are brothers and sisters who love unconditionally, always point each other to our Heavenly Father, and ALWAYS have joy running through our veins even when circumstances aren’t ideal.
When I saw all of this, my mind kind of took a step back. I saw a group of people who I love so much and I remembered that I won’t get to live in this community forever and I saw how important it is to live presently. I instantly felt prompted to write.
Now flashback to launch-before the race officially began, my squad mate Morgan got every single person on the squad a bracelet with the word “choose” on it. I’ve been wearing it since the day she gave it to me, but only around 3 weeks ago I began intentionally thinking and praying about what the word means for me in this season of my life. Just now. On this plane. The Lord has answered my prayers of what it means for me so I’m here to share.
World Race: Gap Year is not forever. It’s 9 months of my whole life. It’s a time away from home and a time to go and make disciples of all nations. When I said “yes” to God to embark on this journey, I knew it was what the Lord wanted for me and I knew I had a heart for missions. But now the Lord has revealed so much more.
Month one– he peeled off layers of self-defense, insecurity, and pride in order to reveal how much reliance on him truly matters.
Month two– he pulled me out of my comfort zone time after time in order to build my confidence and teach me that worship is personal and NOT a performance. It’s just you and your Heavenly Father. That’s it.
Month three– God showed me love and kindness through the people I had met throughout my time in Romania. He also revealed something new about me to me. He has showed me that I am a leader. I’m not a leader because I’m bold, super organized, or have authority over people but I’m a leader because I follow the Highest King’s footsteps when I lead. God has called me into leadership for my squad in being one of the three worship coordinators. God is so cool. Thank you for trusting me Jesus and giving me strength.
Now, about the word “choose”. Through all of these things, I have come to learn that these incredible moments of growth only happen when I intentionally CHOOSE growth. Choosing growth. That’s what it is for me. These 9 months could look like me traveling and doing ministry work while dwelling on the fact that I am not in the comfort of my home. I could leave for this whole time and come back the exact same person I was before but then if I do that…. what were these 9 months of my life even for? On the other hand, I could look at these 9 months as a time to focus on growing closer in intimacy and obedience to Christ.
CHOOSING reading my bible instead of watching a movie.
CHOOSING prayer instead of a nap.
CHOOSING to pour into the people that surround me instead of dwelling on how far I am from my family and friends.
CHOOSING to be present where my feet are instead of getting sucked into the world of social media, wishing I was somewhere else.
CHOOSING to give Jesus control of my day even when it seems impossible.
CHOOSING growth over comfort.
That’s what all of it is. It comes down to CHOOSING Jesus. When you choose Jesus you ARE choosing growth. I look at myself now and compare myself to when I left home. I’ve already changed. The Lord has already transformed me… but here’s the crazy, exciting part. Knowing myself, I know I didn’t poor into Christ and choose him as much as I could have these past three months. I know I can do more. I have a big hunger to continue to grow… but just imagine if I went into the rest of my Race and the rest of my life choosing to take a step further into growth every single day with Christ. Like… Woah. I’d look soooo different in the best way. I could look more like Jesus if I continue CHOOSING him and CHOOSING growth over comfort and personal desires… so that’s now my motivation. I sooo want to look like Jesus. (like… are you kidding ?!!?! Who wouldn’t wanna look like him?!!)
I now look at the bracelet on my wrist with joy and a purpose. I see a reminder to choose into Christ because if I don’t, I will not grow like I want to. I’m not perfect and I will mess up but that doesn’t mean I should give up all hope on myself. That’s boring. Just because you can’t literally be Jesus and be perfect, doesn’t mean you’re hopeless and incapable of growth. Jesus is on your team. He paid the price for your sin on the cross, so when you choose growth he will ALWAYS (and I mean ALWAYS) be on your side. He wants to shine through you and He loves to see you shine.
Thank you, Jesus, for always calling me higher. I love you. Amen.