It’s funny, really. For as long as I can remember, I’ve dreamt of nothing more than getting out of Ohio. There’s always been this unquenchable desire inside me to see all that God has created for us. Wander aimlessly into starry nights. And now, here I am. 1,791 miles away from home in the hot, sticky, one hundred and ten degree desert. I mean, I’m on the whole other side of the country ! Three time zones behind Ohio ! For all the roaming I knew I’d do someday, I can honestly say I never would have guessed that my first move would be to Phoenix, Arizona at the “ever so tender” age of 18. But, here I am. Somedays, I’m not even sure why I’m here. All I know is I told God if He opened the door, I’d walk through it. Or stumble through it. Or maybe He’d have to drag me part of the way as I clenched onto the door frame, letting fear get the best of me. Fear that wasn’t even there till the end, right before the move. Fear is stupid. Don’t let it stop you. Anyways, regardless of how it happened, I’m here doing the best I can at this leadership thing. Before I officially started my internship, I spent the night at Pastor Bill Claudio house and attended his church, Oasis, for both morning service and evening worship. Anyone who knows me (and by that I really mean my boyfriend and Chris because let’s face it, I don’t open up to that many) knows that I struggle with the idea of God using me. Alright, so I didn’t do drugs or go to jail or sleep around or whatever. I don’t have some “amazing” testimony as some would say. But oh how I do. I was a self-harmer. I struggled with bulimia and anorexia for almost five years. I constantly (and even now) battled depression. I attempted suicide once in 9th grade and then again in the spring/summer before my junior year. I’ve battled with sin, and lost more times than I could count. I’m a flawed human, but aren’t we all ? Okay, back on topic. So I struggle with my ability to be used. I never want to come off as a hypocrite. I look at all the sin in my life and say Sorry God, Your mercy isn’t enough for me. Better find someone else. How foolish. While I was worshipping that Sunday evening at Oasis, I began telling God about how nervous I felt going into this new journey. Not because I was leaving my family behind and living on my own. Not because home was literally a thousand miles away. No; I was nervous because I felt inadequate. Maybe I had made the wrong decision. Maybe God couldn’t use me. Oh how Satan loves to lie. When I lifted my eyes, I noticed an older woman with her head hung low. I’d seen her many times throughout the night. No big deal, right ? Wrong. Immediately I felt God speak to me. Tell this woman that I AM with her, and I WILL carry her, and I HAVE carried her, ALWAYS. What ? A little bit of background. Growing up in my youth group, I always felt the spirit moving. Always heard the Lord speaking to me, giving me words to say to people. He sent me all the way to a JcPenney’s just to pray for a woman whose husband was sick. I stepped out on faith, a lot, and I trusted Him when He spoke to me. When Chris left, and Dustin and I started looking for a new church, I felt like I “lost my touch.” I was out of the game. God, You’re crazy. Wait was the even God ? And here comes Satan filling my head. You don’t even know what the voice of God sounds like. I argued with myself. Back and forth, back and forth. Should I do it ? Then, I heard God speaking again. If you want to be used by ME, you need to do as I say when I say and trust that I’VE got you. Alright, alright, alright. I got up out of my seat and started moving towards the woman, but as soon as I got near her, she herself stood up and retreated to the communion table. Really God ? I pressed on. Excuse me, Miss ? She looked at me, rather, she glared. Definitely. Not. Happy. Miss ? I can’t hear you. The music is too loud. To which, she turned around and left me. Double ugh. Yet, I stayed persistent, moving closer, and I told her the Spirit had something it wanted to say. Look, I just moved to the other side of the country, and I haven’t done this in a while, and I’ve been arguing with myself about whether or not I was going to say anything at all, but I know I’ll regret if I don’t, so…The words came tumbling out. Immediately, she started to weep, and I began to pray over her. She never told me what was wrong, and I never asked, but as I made my way back to my seat, and she to hers, I watched her whole demeanor change. She sat upright, swaying with the music. Her shoulders no longer slumped, and she held her head high. In that moment, God not only used me to encourage a fellow sister in Christ, but He also showed me that when I put my trust in Him, He will use me, but I have to be responsive to His call, trusting Him at all times. He sure has been using me a lot since then. Speaking truth into people’s lives. Stepping out in faith. Today, I left church early, right after worship actually. My spirit felt fuzzy, but not in a good way. More like God was cleaning house, but to actually put words to it, to actually describe it to you, I can’t. It was something that only could be experienced. I felt like God wanted me to be alone with Him. In that time, He taught me that it is ONLY because of His grace that I am where I am. No matter how good I am, even if I was the holiest among the land, and no matter how hard I try, I’m still a sinner that is very much deserving of hell. But while I (we) were STILL sinners, God found favor in us. All of us. Grace is God’s favor. He gave us His grace before He could even give us His mercy. He gave us His grace to reach out and obtain the powers of God. He gave us Jesus. That’s how much He favors us ! He sent His only Son to save a sinner such as I. God’s mercy is what keeps us from judgment. It’s what washed away our sins, making us white as snow. Grace and mercy go hand in hand. Grace allows me to receive all things from God. To stand tall against the enemy, to believe, to be saved, to obey, to receive both an inheritance and my spiritual gifts. Mercy makes sure that even though I may lose a couple battles, I won’t lose the war, because the blood of Jesus is enough for me ! Now, I’m in no way taking credit for any of these ideas; I learned a lot of this through a lesson by Steve Foss today. But, I felt like it needed to be shared. Nothing I do will ever earn me the grace of God. He already freely extends it to all that want to receive. Sometimes, the hardest thing in life is forgiving yourself. I’m claiming the forgiveness Christ has poured out on me as I’ve come to him with a repentant heart. He calls us to the desert. To change us. To transform our minds. To show us revelations. To use us. Even if it should happen that I moved to the other side of the country just to impact that one woman who I’ll probably never meet again, I know I’ll be able to look back and say it was worth it. In that moment, God taught me so much. He called me to the desert, both literally and metaphorically, and I’m answering that call.