I’ve spent the first half of this summer writing copy, and working with my younger brother building my new Journeymanda website. There have been a million little, yet important, decisions to make. So much prayer and seeking the Lord have gone into what’s being done.
This website work has really caused me to ask the Lord to help me focus on His heart, His plans, and His vision for what the new season will look like. Of course, I want to believe that I’m always this interested in what He is saying about where we are going, but I’m not sure that would be the case. I think it’s easy to get caught up in whatever is going on right in front of me, and forget to set my eyes on the horizon to check for what might be coming.
I believe I’ve known for a while now, maybe even as far back as winter 2019, that there was a coming change in seasons for me. It’s only been the last few months, though, I’ve been able to see much evidence of it. I am so excited about all that the Lord is doing, but I have to admit it has been super uncomfortable and confronting.
There’s nothing like preparing for a new season to cause me to wonder whether I heard Him correctly in the first place. Nothing feels as unsure as stepping off into unknown territory, and daring to make plans for a life that looks different from everyone around me, and everything I’ve ever done before. To make plans with money that hadn’t come in yet definitely left me sick to my stomach more than once.
It was mid-spring when my girlfriend, Shanna, first asked if I wanted to join her on a trip to Tanzania in May. Everything in me was a yes, and yet when I checked the dates, I knew I was actually a no. The trip was due to return two days before my oldest son, Clay, graduated from high school.
I was so thankful for saying no each time, in the weeks leading up to his graduation, he came to me needing my help with some detail. Every time I saw Shanna’s updates on Facebook I deeply thanked the Lord for securing my yes to my family in the face of my great desire to go.
Late one night, she called from Tanzania and shared with me the amazing things the Lord had let her see and be a part of while she was there. I told her then I was a yes for the next trip and spent time after we hung up praying and committing the whole situation to the Lord.
After she returned, we got together for tea and talking and chicken petting. (If you know Shanna, then you know.) She, while sitting outside of a home for the disabled she had been visiting in Tanzania, was thinking and praying and happened to look down to see a random scrap of frayed purple fabric. She said as soon as she saw that fabric, she knew it was meant for me.
“Manda, I just know you’re meant to be there. When I saw this fabric on the ground, I knew it was yours and I had to bring it back for you.” Now, she and I are great friends, so I of course joked that she went all the way to Africa and all she brought me back was trash. Gee, thanks a lot, you shouldn’t have. Eyeroll.
But, honestly, I knew it was for me also, this amethyst treasure. For the Lord to use something so seemingly insignificant to whisper my name to her heart was everything to me. I, of course, harassed her with my humor, but I received it as a precious gift.
On my drive over to her house earlier that day, I had been in heavy conversation with the Lord about my yes to Africa. “Was this the direction He wanted me to go?” “Did He really speak this to my heart, or were these my plans?”
My new website notwithstanding (laughing eyeroll), I’m still basically a nobody from nowhere. So... why me? Why Africa?
Having gotten my love-cup filled up, I grabbed my eggs and my gifts and made my way for home. I turned on my Dwell app to listen to that day’s scripture reading while I drove. And it was there, in the midst of Genesis 1-3, the Lord spoke to my heart His answer to my questions.
I had been listening to the reading, but was barely on the road, before I HEARD His Word.
Genesis 1:11-12, “And God said, ‘Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.’ And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.”
However inconspicuous at first pass, this scripture speaks of the beauty and purpose inherent in God’s created order. He created seed-holding, fruit-bearing trees. Do you see it, this that God designed and saw was good?
I knew at that moment, I was going to Africa because I am a tree with the fruit with the seed in it, and that is enough.
“That’s it, isn’t it Lord?” I ask like an eager child looking expectantly in the face of my Father. I am Yours and You are mine, and Your Spirit is in me fruiting through me wherever I go. And that is enough. That is all the reason I need to go, all the qualifications necessary for You to choose me to send. It’s all about You in me, and the fruit that You produce which bear seeds of Your love and Your gospel that are spread wherever we go. Right??
Psalm 1:2-3 says, “But they delight in the law of the LORD, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.”
“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!” Galatians 5:22-23
I basked in the glow of that revelation as I drove home. Once there, I told my husband all about my visit with Shanna and the Lord. He laughed a little and smiled warmly at me, “Of course Christ in you is enough, Amanda.”
Duh...of course He is, my heart agreed.
I went to my desk, rubbing my woven, tattered trifle between my fingers. I thought, as I felt on it, I should frame it to remind myself of what the Lord had spoken here… to Shanna, to me, about Himself, about me, about Him in me, about my place in His plans in His world. I laughed as I spread it out, thinking this was surely a lot for such a little scrap of fabric to say.
And then I saw it, in that wadded mess of interlaced thread, what I thought was one strip of fabric was really two knotted together. It could not have been more poetic had the heavens torn themselves open and light flooded the area around me. There I unwrapped a gift of the cross the Lord had left for me in Africa.
“I see what You’re doing here,” I said, smiling to myself and the Spirit with me. I framed it exactly as He unfurled it for me and have kept it right next to me since then as my own stone of remembrance.
As I make my way for Africa, as I look toward the horizon beyond that, in this season and everyone to come, I pray the Lord reminds me often that indeed His Spirit in me is everything I need. Oh, that I might spend all my days delighting in Him and in His Word, so that I would stay well watered and heavy-boughed with His fruit. May that fruit set seed which He causes to grow into a great harvest for His Glory. Amen.