Life is a journey.
It's this wild, crazy adventure God is beckoning us to walk with Him. There are ups and down, mountaintops and valleys. And along the way, we all look back at some point and marvel at how far He has brought us. At some point we all wonder how things would've been different if we knew then what we know now. Yet what you know now can't change your past, it can only change your future.
But today, somehow, I hope what I have learned from my journey can help you in yours. So that somehow you can know now what I wish I would've known then.
Nine years ago today my life changed forever. The God who created me and birthed me into existence whispered to my heart so strongly that it took my breath away.
March 9, 2008 I laid in my bed trying to go to sleep after attending the yearly missions conference at a new church we had begun to attend.
I was so young. I didn't even fully understand a lot of what I'd been hearing at that conference of the missionaries far away and the people who had nothing. I was almost eleven years old.
That night my heart was so unsettled. I was so restless. I didn't even know why.
In that moment, I felt the presence of God with me in a way that was so strong I hadn't experienced it like that before. His whisper in my heart was so clear to me that I knew it wasn't my imagination.
Go and tell them.
Honestly, I was terrified. What? What did this even mean? I can't even fully explain this moment to you, nor do I expect you to understand it. If you don't believe me, that's fine too. I'm not sharing this with you to gain your approval. After years of searching for approval, I've realized that what you all think or believe about this doesn't actually matter at all.
No, I'm sharing this with you because that day God called me to a country that my heart has fallen in love with. God has called me to the beautiful country of Uganda. And the funny part? I've not actually even gone to Uganda yet. Yet somehow, that's the most beautiful part of my journey.
These past nine years have been quite the ride. There are so many things I wish I would've done differently, so many times I wish I would've trusted God deeper. But that's also part of the journey. Learning as you go.
I don't know what your story is. If you've been called to foreign missions or not. But whatever your story is, I do know this. All of us need to learn better what it means to trust God with all of our hearts.
So today I invite you into a brief letter of what I would've told my younger self nine years ago...and maybe it'll help change your life too.
Dear Younger Me...
Today your life will change forever. March 9, 2008. You don't fully understand this right now. You don't understand how it will change things in the years to come. You don't know the lessons you will learn and the adventures you will be taken on.
The mountaintops and valleys of this journey will be intense. I know that. It'll be hard. It'll be crazy. You'll want to give up. And even if you don't believe it at this moment, you will give up in the months to come. You will turn your back on this dream from God and convince yourself it never happened. Because the truth is, you're scared.
So listen close, please.
Just because you're scared doesn't mean that you have to walk away. This fear is the enemy's way of holding you back from the dream God created you for. Don't let him win this battle. That day when you feel like giving up, don't. That day when you feel like pretending none of this happened, don't convince yourself of that. Because it did happen. You were called. And God is your strength so you never have to give up.
I know you have dreams in your heart that are so much different than this one. Dreams that you've held close for as long as you can remember. And I know it'll hurt to give them up. I know it'll feel like it's breaking your heart to let go of your dreams for His. But the secret that you don't realize right now? The day you let go and give your dreams to Him, He'll open your eyes to realize that His dream for you is everything you've ever wanted, because He is everything for you. And you know what else? You'll fall in love. Yes, your heart will be captivated by the people of Uganda that you will begin to love so deeply. Your heart will stay in this beautiful country that you've not yet had the honor of seeing with your eyes. But more than that, you will fall in love with your dream Giver. You will fall deeper in love with Him, because you will begin to realize that your dream is more about you and Him than anything else.
You will make mistakes. You will think you know exactly how this dream is going to turn out. You will believe that you know the timing of everything. And you will proudly and excitedly tell every person you can about the calling God has placed on your life. Dear heart, not everyone will believe you. They will laugh, they will shake their heads, they will tell you that you are wrong. Some will even not believe that God could've spoken to you in that way.
Their opinions, dear child, do not define you or what God has called you to do. Their opinions honestly do not matter. Yes, some of them will have great advice. Yes, some of them will have good intentions. But don't you let them convince you for one moment that you were not called. Because you were. Girl, you've been given a gift. Not everyone is called to the foreign mission field. But you were. He chose you! He doesn't need you, but He wants you. He wants you to experience this adventure with Him. Embrace it with all of your heart.
Oh, yeah, and about the waiting?
It's going to seem like forever. Because I know in your young mind you are fully convinced that when you are eighteen years old, you're going to go to Uganda for the first time.
Here's the truth, dear.
You won't. You won't see Uganda when you're eighteen. You won't see Uganda when you're nineteen. And honestly, I don't know when you will. Maybe it'll be when you're twenty, or twenty-one, or maybe God won't send you until you're thirty.
I know you will wonder why in the world God called you on March 9, 2008 when nine years later, He still wouldn't have sent you. You will be so confused.
But here's the secret you won't learn till much later.
God calling you to Uganda was not as much about the destination of getting there as it was the journey of following. And in the journey of following you will grow. You will learn. You will fail. Yet you will become so much in love with Jesus that the waiting won't seem as hard after awhile.
Here's what you must remember. You were called. Nothing and no one can change that. Not even the waiting. Keep your eyes on Jesus. Keep your eyes on His timing. And when the time is perfect, because His timing always is, He will smile so gently on your heart and you will know. You will know that it's time to go. Just keep waiting. Those who wait on Him will renew their strength and mount up on wings like eagles. Don't give up.
And another amazing part of this journey? God will give you the chance to do what you've always dreamed of doing. He will give you a story and a message to share in a book that He is going to use to change peoples' lives. I know you can't imagine that right now, but that's the beauty of this journey.
It's so much greater and more beautiful than you ever could've imagined.
Keep on believing, dreamer girl.
Don't you ever give up.
An Older Me
Isabella Morganthal (21) is a homeschool high school graduate who loves Jesus with all of her heart. She is a drummer, writer, creative arts director, and modern-day abolitionist.