Being home-schooled had its many perks. Among them was the ability to have recess at our favorite local parks for what never seemed like enough time. One thing I remember about the numerous trips to the park was that I was always too afraid to go on the Monkey Bars. My older brother Evan would swing from bar to bar with such ease and grace, and I remember how he taught our younger brothers to do the same. As for me, I would often hang on the first bar where my tippy toes could still touch the edge, but I never, in all the times I went to the park, made it to the second bar. Even to this day I have never made it past the first bar, but let’s be real. My recent failure in this area does not come from a lack of courage, but rather a complete lack of arm strength. There was a time when Evan “tried” to teach me how to master the art of the monkey bars. He said, “All you have to do is reach out and grab the next one.”
Isn’t that the point of Monkey Bars? In order to go anywhere you have to first leave the ledge, and then you have to keep reaching for the next one, and as long as there is a “Next one” you keep moving forward. I have found that such is life. In order to leave one thing you have to reach out for the next. This can often be a terror-inducing, fear paralysis-causing task. Because A) Leaving the ledge is the hardest step, B) The further you go out, the further you are from the ledge, and C) What if you lose your grasp and fall to the ground?
But what if the Monkey Bars required more faith? Sure, reaching out to a bar you know is there is hard; but reaching out and taking hold of something that you only posses faith of its existence, that is bravery. That is the courageous thing. I want to be brave. I want to live a life marked by courageous steps into the unknown because that is where Jesus is. So, here comes a season where I am out on the Monkey Bars, and I KNOW that Jesus has told me to reach for something that I am not even sure if it is there. BUT I know who God is, and I know that He would never call me to step out in faith if He was not already behind me, before me, and all around me. I came to Abilene in 2010; fresh out of high school. I was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. I was ready to take on the world. And although this journey is never what I imagined; it has brought me closer to the heartbeat of God, and for that reason I say, I would do it all over again. These past years were marked by the loneliest, lowest years of my young existence. There were months that felt like never-ending darkness. These have been the years that I would have given anything to have one person who truly understood the darkest parts of me. These have been the years of desert where I have begged God for the Promised Land. I have begged Him for relief from the one who bound my soul. BUT GOD… In the midst of it all, He taught me of His relentless love for me. He showed me what it meant to be drawn out into the desert where He was in order to meet me and fulfill a need in me that nothing and no one could have filled.
I was sure this season was over after graduation, but alas I am still here learning more about the father heart, the relentless pursuit, more about the unrelenting favor and grace of God than I could have EVER learned in any other season of my life. So, here I go. I am reaching for a bar that I cannot see, but I believe it is there because He said it was there. There have been so many that have confirmed that this is my “Promised Land” season, and I will be darned if I am going to be one of the ten spies who looks at the land and only speaks of the greatness of the giants. I want to be a Joshua or a Caleb. I want to understand the reality of the battle ahead, but I also want to wholeheartedly say, “Yes” to God so that I can see His goodness in the land of the living. I want to taste and see that He is good, and the only way that I get to do that is if I am brave enough to reach out and take hold of His promises even if I cannot see how He is going to make it possible. I have to be certain of only one thing, He is good, and His plans are for my good.
So, here’s the plan. I am moving back to Lubbock! I know some of you are thinking, “Lubbock is not a promised land…” Well, maybe not, but this season involves the gift of being able to move back with my family and be close to the ones I love more than anything on this earth. Some might say, “What courage is involved in going back home?” Well, let me tell you, and let me implore of you to please be lifting this in prayer so that you can be a part of seeing God at work! I have a well-paying job in Abilene (It’s the hardest job I have ever had, and it is sucking the life out of me, but it does pay enough to make my life happen). I have a lease that does not end until July, and I have found that it is impossible to just cancel the lease. I have student loans, and the first payment is due NEXT month. I have a car payment… The list goes on… Oh, also, my father has told me that he refuses to move my extra heavy, antique dresser down another flight of stairs… so there’s that. In Lubbock, I have a family who is standing with me in faith, and a brother (and his orphaned dog) coming home from Mexico this week ready for a roommate… That’s it. I don’t have an income, a job, no leads, no resumes have been turned in… nothing. After seeking wise counsel from many sources, and after hearing the Lord for myself, I have decided it is time to put in my two week’s notice at work, pray for a girl to take my lease, pray for a job, and reach out to take the next step. Walk out in faith. If I lose my car and default on my loans and have to pick up trash on the side of the road in an orange jumpsuit to pay back my debt to society, then I will know with my whole heart that I am where God has me.
So, what can you do? I am so glad you asked… I am starting a fund to… Haha, just kidding! Seriously, here is what I would love to have from you, your prayers! Pray for courage to leave when staying makes more sense. Pray for a job, and a perfect little house for me, my brother, and his orphan dog that he is bringing back from Mexico. Pray that I would see the “Giants of the Promise Land”, and choose to take the land by faith, in full assurance that it has been promised to me and I will succeed by the power of Christ in me. I promise to keep you updated on how the Lord shows Himself faithful! It’s going to be such a fantastic journey, and I want you to be a part of it through prayer and encouragement. Let’s watch and see what The Lord can do with small steps of faith!
Here is a photo of my new roommates! Meet my brother, Jordan and his orphan dog, Luna.
[Editor’s Note: Stay tuned to hear all the awesome ways God moved when Manda moved back to Lubbock!]