**this is part 3 of my testimony that i began posting on 5/17/10**
I asked God if I could go to Scotland.
I had been growing in the Lord and knew that I was "right" with Him. I knew that He was directing my path and giving me a chance to know more about Him. I still had a lot to learn (don't we always) and I was still pretty immature in a lot of aspects in my life. But I was happy. And that's where I thought I was meant to be: in a blissful Utopian-like world where there were daisy fields and butterflies, smiling faces and laughter. This was Christianity and this was where God would use me.
I kept seeking the Lord. I kept praying. I started looking into making plans for heading over to Scotland. I made steps to figuring out how I could come up alongside the church plant that was going to happen. I wondered when I was going to get to go. I was ready. I wanted to. I knew the message these people needed and I thought I knew what that was in my life. Happiness. They needed to smile. They needed joy. They needed to peel back the proverbial cloud that they were living under to experience true LIFE in the light of our Lord.
I waited for a response. He gave it. Someone once told me that God always response to prayers in three different ways: yes, no and wait.
And God responded to this prayer, too.
I didn't understand it, but I knew I needed to trust Him. If we were having a conversation, it would have gone something like this:
"Lord, my heart is breaking for these people...YOUR people...will you send me to Scotland?"
"Why? Why can't I go now? They need you! They need to hear about Your salvation!"
"Until when? When can I go?"
The conversation ended as the Lord showed me the darkness of Scotland in contrast with the happiness of my life. I saw the smiles of people around me, the happiness I had in the life that He was allowing me to live at that time, and I wanted to bring what I felt to the UK.
He responded with a statement that still repeats in my mind to this day: "Erika, your joy needs to be found in Me first. You need to be grounded in My joy."
You see, friends, there is a difference between happiness and joy. Happiness lasts only for a period of time. It is an emotion. It is circumstantial at best. Happiness comes from the moment, from the feeling, from surroundings. Sure, I was happy in my life. But where was my joy?
I didn't know. But I did know that God said "no" for now, but He also gave me hope. Psalm 138:8 says "the Lord will perfect that which concerns me. Your mercies, O Lord, endure forever, do not forsake the works of Your hands." I was able to stand up and step forward knowing that His timing would be perfect. I began a course of waiting and, with that, started filling my "waiting period" with other things that would honor the Lord.
At this point, I started attending bible college. I had such a desire to know more about the Lord, but didn't know how else to pursue that. When the opportunity came up for me to take classes at a bible college that was offered at a local church, I looked into it immediately. By the end of 2003, I left Cuesta College and was attending only bible college and working full time.
I had a full plate as I was going to school, working full time, being on student staff in our college group, and all-together enjoying life.
But I kept wondering where I was going to find joy...
(as you continue to read my story, know that happiness is self-made. True happiness and joy only comes from a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. He died and rose again that we may know what true joy is: being in His presence. Our sin separates us from Him and He wants us to be with Him. He made a way for that to happen. If you want to know more, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. This decision is the most important one you will make in this life: will you accept His offer of salvation and choose a relationship with Jesus Christ?)