By: Kacie Starr Long
I recently returned from an 11-day mission trip with Jewel Warrior to Kampala, Uganda. There were six of us on this trip, with the assignment to bring hope to children with incarcerated parents and lead the first international Jewel Warrior women's conference for previously incarcerated women.
The theme of the women's conference was "Press On" or Lemerako which means to press on in Lugandan. God gave me the idea for this theme for the women's conference, as a call to press on in our faith. That the enemy's plan is to use circumstances, and difficulties in life to cause us to give up and throw in the towel.
I knew the theme God had given was relevant and there were many messages in the Bible that could be used to encourage the ladies, however, I had no idea how the conference theme would be a personal battle cry for myself and others throughout our time in Uganda and upon our arrival back into the United States.
In Philippians 3:13-14, Paul challenges us to be laser-focused on forgetting the things of our past and pressing toward the high call of God in our lives. I like this scripture because Paul lets us know that he hasn't achieved perfection in this area, nevertheless he is committed to pressing forward.
On the first night of the conference, I shared a message about Pressing In to God. Sometimes when we experience challenges it can be easy to run to people, places, and things instead of God!
The day that I was to depart for Uganda, my dream car stopped working. Just as I was finishing last-minute errands for my trip, my car decided to stop working right in the middle of the store parking lot.
Instead of getting frustrated, angry, and upset, I calmly called my husband to pick me up from the shopping center so I could return home and finish packing. I made the decision, to press into God and trust His faithfulness.
During the women's conference in Kampala, I began to lose my voice, and experience cold symptoms. Because we were outside the majority of the day, I figured my allergies were flaring. The day before we were to depart for our trip back to the U.S., I received a positive Covid test. There was a discussion that with the positive Covid test, I would need to remain in Kampala to quarantine and leave for the U.S. three days later.
Obviously, I wanted to return back to the U.S. I missed my family, and I felt I had completed my assignment in Uganda, but yet trusted the Lord. If God, felt that I needed to remain in Uganda for a few days longer, until I could receive a negative Covid test, then I would remain. I made the decision again, to press into God. Understanding that all things work for my good and that God is not mean, or arbitrary. I knew that if God was allowing this to happen, then He had a reason and a purpose.
Another opportunity arose for me to press into God during my time in Uganda. On July 26th, St. Louis experienced an unprecedented level of rain that caused severe flooding in parts of St. Louis city and county. I learned through social media, that my sewing business was under 16 inches of water, and that all of the stores in the shopping plaza had been damaged and were temporarily closed.
I gasped at the pictures I saw of my shop, and again made the decision that I needed to press in to God. Instead of getting frustrated, angry, or anxious, I would need to take a deep breath, and remind myself of who God is. I reminded myself that:
* God is faithful.
* God loves me.
* God is for me.
* If God allowed this to happen, He has a better plan for me.
Now, ladies, I did shed tears. I did scream into my hotel bed pillow and scrambled to send out texts to my mother and husband who was in the U.S. helping at my shop, nevertheless, there was inner peace and knowing, that this was a time when I was going to need to PRESS IN to God, and not drift away in anger or sadness that these unfortunate circumstances had happened while away on a mission trip.
I share my experiences with you as a reminder, that we all encounter disruptions, disappointments, and circumstances that make you shake your head and say, "What in the world is going on?!" Nevertheless, I encourage you during these moments to PRESS IN to God and PRESS ON in faith.
Many of the women at the close of the conference shared how the three days impacted their life. These women came in a bit quiet, a bit apprehensive on the first day, but left the conference laughing with joy and committed to pressing on despite their circumstances.
I ended up taking another Covid test prior to my return to the U.S. and it showed that it was negative, and I was able to arrive home back with my team. My sewing shop, on the other hand, is currently closed due to the damage from the flooding, and will probably remain so for the next 90-120 days until reconstruction takes place. My car is still misbehaving, and as my body is still getting adjusted to the time zone difference, I experienced a bout of food poisoning last night.
But you know what? I am using this time to press in and press on to the things of God, and I encourage you to do the same.
Maybe you aren't experiencing car trouble or issues with your physical health or business, but there are other things in your life that cause concern. Whatever you may be facing -- challenges, unfortunate circumstances, situations that seem unbelievable or even unfair; my prayer is that we will both be like the Apostle Paul who says:
"Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I PRESS ON toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 3:13-14)
Let's make a pact:
I pray for you.
You pray for me.
And let's press on!
Hi, my name is Kacie Starr Long. I am an author, and speaker and I love to use my voice to point people to Jesus. When I'm not writing, I'm either working out at Orange Theory Fitness or sewing. God delivered me from food addiction and I have a sewing ministry, called the Sew Hope Community Sewing Room. I am the proud wife of Alfred T. Long, Sr and together we lead a non-profit that serves prisoners and their families. Connect with me at www.InspiredOverflow.com and via my YouTube page for Christian teachings and encouragement.