November 2015 Final Issue
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A Journey Of Obedience

Right now I am on a journey of obedience. A crazy, thrilling ride of saying, “YES!” to whatever God has in store for me. Through this journey I’ve learned God is good. I have also realized that He is not safe. By this I mean that following God may not always feel like the most secure and sane thing to do. If you’re really all in and willing to do anything for Him, you better expect a crazy life. One filled with adventures, unknown paths, and risks. This is what I hear God whispering to me these days. I see the risk, and at times I am afraid to obey my Father in Heaven, but then I see the joy, growth, and closeness to Him that comes through obedience. God called me to an unexpected path. Specifically, this year God called me to take time off from school...something that I thought I would never do. Instead of heading off to college this fall, I will be attending a missionary training school run by the organization called Youth With A Mission (YWAM). For the next year, I will live at a YWAM base and fill my time with lectures about topics like “The Father Heart of God” and “Missions/Missiology.” After Christmas break, my fellow YWAMers and I will ship off to Nepal for a two-month mission trip. God is good. I feel blessed just writing about this incredible opportunity He has given me! Still, there are moments, if I’m being completely honest, when I don’t see this opportunity for the amazing gift it is simply because it didn’t fit into my life plan. A gap year or serving with YWAM was not on my itinerary. I was supposed to go to college right after high school, earn a degree in something useful, get a dependable job, and live a happy, sane life of security. However, this perfectly ordinary and safe life that I planned is not the life God had in mind for me. The last year has felt like a wrestling match in a lot of ways. Besides finishing out my last year of high school, I struggled with decisions concerning my summer:  which college I eventually wanted to attend, and the heavy feeling on my heart inching me toward saying, “YES!” to God’s calling to go to YWAM. Looking back, I could easily say that choosing to obey God was on the top of my priority list, so of course obeying His command to take a gap year seemed like it was an easy thing to do. But it turned out to be harder than expected. My personality, my upbringing, and my comfort zone all tell me to stick to my plan, go to college, play it safe. But my God tells me to follow Him, wherever He may lead. When I take a minute to reflect on the last four years of my life, I see how God has changed me. I see reasons why He has chosen YWAM and this path for my life. In high school I stressed about grades, putting my school work before anything else. I participated in school activities and immersed myself in my academic life. God is showing me now that what I valued is not nearly as important as His will and His Kingdom. God’s calling for me to do YWAM and to completely surrender myself to Him is a beautiful illustration of His loving concern for me. He is taking me out of my typical environment, taking me out of my comfort zone, and calling me into His love. I have to laugh at our God. He works in amazing ways. Agreeing to obey took a whole year of little nudges, signs, and open doors. I remember a year ago at my youth group, a girl spoke one Sunday night about her own experience with listening to God and taking time off from school; which is often frowned upon or misunderstood. That was the first major push I felt from God. At that point in my life, I was convinced I would go to college the following fall, and I made jokes about the thought of a gap year. Surely God calls people to do things like that, but not me. Now I laugh about the thought of not taking this year off! I can’t imagine where I’d be if I hadn’t chosen to listen to God. It has been hard, but I know it will be worth it. Following God does not lead to the safe, secure, and mediocre existence that my mind thinks I need. Following God can lead to a life that is the complete opposite of that! And saying, “YES!” to Him often feels like jumping off of a cliff into water below. I think, as teenagers, it is so easy to get stuck in a life that is given to us, a future that we (or those around us) create. But if we are willing to do what God commands, He will take us on a wild, unexpected adventure. Enrolling in YWAM, deferring my acceptance to college, telling my parents, and taking a year off from traditional school is my wild, unexpected adventure. I know as I continue to follow Him, my faith and trust will grow even deeper with each step on this path He has me on. This is what the LORD says: "Stop at the crossroads and look around. Ask for the old, godly way, and walk in it. Travel its path, and you will find rest for your souls (Jeremiah 1:6, NLT).
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About Anna Derby

Anna Derby
Anna is a junior at Upper Merion Area High School. Looking ahead to college, she is considering Messiah College, Liberty University, and other Christian schools. Anna is very involved in her youth group at Hope Community Church and is a leader for the middle school students.

One comment

  1. Priscilla Tipeni

    Anna thank you for sharing your adventures with us. I am a small group leader for our High schoolers at the church and this is ALWAYS my hearts prayer that they realize a degree doesn’t define them that they are sons and daughters of a risen King who loves them endlessly. And although education is extremely important making time for the quiet moments while the world is loud and God is whispering is extremely important so you can find the specifics or your path and your journey and all that he would have for you. I’ll be praying for your trip at YWAM and am encouraged to see God raising up young women such as yourself to serve and follow him first.

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