From the moment I submitted my application to this final week, the word that best characterizes my internship experience is faith. This is a word that has taken on a new meaning in my own life through the various challenges and triumphs of the last eight months.
Before even stepping foot in Zambia, God called me to step out with a level of faith I had not walked in before. I quickly discovered that this internship was out of my control- that I had to fully rely on God to provide the means for this trip to happen. While I would love to write that I was able to fully rest in His provision and promise, I can’t. Through this process I became angry and bitter, desperately grasping at the reins of control that I never held. Even in my faithlessness, however, God was faithful- meeting every one of my needs fully and proving once again that He never fails. Looking back on this summer, it seems fitting that the prelude to this experience revolved around this theme of faith.
Reaching Zambia, I felt a tidal wave of new callings to step outside of my comfort zone in faith. While simply being in this new environment was a call outside of my comfort zone, I also found myself being called to step into deeper areas of my own faith. At first, this was simply in walking through local communities, sitting with those that would invite us in and talking about Jesus with them. As the summer went on, however, I felt myself being stretched further and further, praying with greater expectancy, and stepping into places that would make me look like a fool unless God showed up (which He did, time and time again). Through these experiences, I felt myself leaning more and more into God’s promise and power. This was a new motion for me, as my previous acts of “faith” were always underscored by a safety net of my own perceived understanding and control. Through these experiences, I also found myself becoming much more open to radical new ways that God can move through faith- ways that before seemed weird and, quite frankly, unlikely. By God’s continual offering of opportunity and his gentle nudging, I found that stepping into these new places became easier and even exciting.
While stepping out in faith externally was challenging, the greatest challenge I faced during this internship was stepping out in faith internally. Coming into the internship, I knew that everything was not solid in the deepest part of myself. First revealed through my preliminary bitterness, I knew that there were parts of myself I hadn’t fully confronted, parts that I hadn’t fully submitted to God. Upon further meditations and promptings through the summer, He revealed that I was not living my life out of a secure place. The actions that I took, though good, came from a place of seeking approval, affirmation, and ultimately my own glory. I didn’t believe that I was actually good, and so I needed to prove it to myself and to God that I was. By living out of this place, I couldn’t fully experience Christ’s freedom, or share in his abounding joy, putting myself in chains of my own design. And so, I reached a crossroads in my life: I could either continue living from a place of trying to please God and others, or I could live from a place of trusting God in who He says I am. While choosing the latter has been a daunting and seemingly hopeless process, I have already started to see the fruits of living out of this foundation of faith; my anxiety has been replaced with peace, fear with hope, insecurity with confidence, bitterness with love. In this place, my manufactured “good works” have become genuine and full, proceeding from a place of love rather than a place of need. There is an inexplainable peace I feel when I can simply sit in the presence of God, knowing in the deepest part of myself that I am, always have been, and always will be enough. For me, it is in this place that faith has taken its fullest form, providing the rock, the foundation by which I can truly live from, and continue to live from in the future.
|ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Max Tustin • 2017 International Immersion Intern