When I first began attending Catalyst Church a little over a year ago, I kept hearing about this team of people who would be moving to Portland, Oregon the next year to start a church in the city. One Sunday night, Anton (the assistant pastor at Catalyst) and his wife, Courtney, were invited up on stage to share their stories about how their faith started, grew and how they came to this crazy idea to leave everything behind to follow God's call to Portland. I remember sitting in the audience thinking how cool it must be for them and the rest of the others. That's great for them, I thought, Good for them that they're following Him.
Little did I know that God would call me on the same journey to Portland just a few months later.
It started off as this funny idea -- Anton and the group would tell me they know I'll end up in Portland with them, and I'd laugh it off like they were absolutely insane. Me? Leave San Diego? To the hipster land of Portland? Leave my school and my work network and my loved ones and financial security? Hilarious.
Then I got closer with the group, and I started thinking, okay, maybe I'll visit a couple times a year. Portland would be a great place to visit and travel for a little bit.
But then the group quickly became family.
And as the love grew, I realized, I just couldn't see myself being left behind when they all leave for this great mission. The time spent being welcomed in this beautiful spiritual family, this family on mission, has revealed to me that I, too, am called to continue and join the mission that God has put on the group's heart -- to listen to and follow God's voice to leave San Diego and pursue the hearts of those in Portland, one of the country's most unchurched major cities. Where the family goes, I go. It wasn't just their responsibility to be willing to be used by God like that. It was mine, too. God had been whispering this call in my heart since Anton and Courtney first shared their testimony on stage.
I then began thinking, okay, maybe in five years after I'm done with school and established myself a little bit more, then I can join them. It was a later concept, something I'd put off for awhile as I pursued the "practical."
But another breakthrough happened (which wasn't surprising -- following God always seems to cause some sort of breakthrough). This wasn't about following people. This was about following God. And I thought about how many times people were called to follow God without hesitation. Jesus asked Peter and Andrew to come follow him, and they dropped their nets to immediately go. They didn't tell Jesus to wait for them to promptly finish their studies as fishermen, or to save up enough money, or to say their farewells to everyone. And they sure didn't see pursuing Jesus as "impractical." They got right up and followed. I want to be the one to tell God, "Here am I. Use me." I wanted to have enough faith to say yes wherever He calls me in this vast world -- whether that's Portland, or somewhere else.
That vision of such a vast world made me feel so small -- yet even more honored and humbled to know God has chosen to give me this bigger purpose in life. Who am I that God is mindful of me? Who am I that God is calling my name, and wanting to use my life? And who am I to put Him on hold for 5 years? It was clear what God was further calling me to do.
Portland, Oregon will be my home in January 2017.
I don't know for how long. I don't know if I'm prepared mentally, emotionally, financially, but God has changed my heart enough to make me spiritually ready. And I suppose that's all we really need. I've been reminded constantly that wherever the Lord guides, He provides. I have to trust that. And The Common Place so far has already seen this in action. I'm so, so excited to join in on the craziness in Portland. I'm excited to jump into this new season of life, and to see all the ways my heart and faith will grow alongside of my spiritual family. I'm excited to meet new faces and to grow meaningful relationships with them. I'm excited to visit back home in San Diego as a changed and matured person, and grow those friendships as well. I'm excited to experience independence. I'm excited to pursue my passion for photography in a new place. And most of all, I'm simply excited to refocus and live a meaningful life for Him.