By Ben Smith
Lying in bed in the Hotel Giron of Chichicastenango after a week of mission work, I found myself in a mood of reflection. My mind was filled with memories of playing with children, worshipping with other missioners, and living in community with people of all different walks. An overwhelming sense of peace came over me. A feeling of rightness. Right there, in that moment, I was exactly where I needed to be – doing the Lord’s work, spreading the word of God, living a life on fire for Jesus. It was both exhilarating and calming, a refreshing break from the stress and doubt of day-to-day life. In a period of uncertainty in my life, for this one week I knew my purpose. I knew I was fulfilling God’s plan for me. I found that, when all the stress and responsibility we live with is stripped away, God’s voice is suddenly much clearer. In this way, God exemplified one of my favorite verses:
The Lord said, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens also.” The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain.
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.”
– Hebrews 12:26-28
To live an unshakable life means having the faith to allow God to shake away everything else leaving only that which is of Him, that which is part of His plan for you. If I live my life in this way, with this level of faith, I open my life up to experience God’s gifts of peace and wholeness which accompany an unshakable life.
There is a deep level of peace and assurance in this way of life. My faithfulness is an invitation for God to step in and shake away all that goes against His plan. But often times this is easier said than done. It can be difficult to surrender those things which God would shake away. In choosing to go on this trip to Guatemala, I had no choice but to allow God to shake a few things away. Technology, stress from school, societal expectations – all of these things which got in the way of my faith were left behind in the States allowing me to be opened up and experience this unshakeable relationship.
As we began work in Guatemala, I quickly found that I was seeing God in new places. I saw God in the smiles and laughter of my new best friend, Wilson (pictured), who loved to photobomb my pictures. With great effort and resilience, I was able to get un serio foto, a serious picture. Wilson was one of the most joyous people I’ve ever met. In his pureness and his joyful spirit, I saw God’s presence. Despite living in such poverty and deprivation, Wilson was a light for God, spreading His joy.
I found God in the missioners with whom I worked. Our own youth and chaperones, the youth of Holston Homes, the Pigeon Forge and Fairview teams – I got a firsthand look at God’s work in and through these people. I saw some break down in tears of joy while rededicating their lives to Christ. The love shared among us and expressed to the local community was a testament to God’s presence there with us. Mission trips, I’ve found, have a special power to form strong, Christ-centered relationships in a matter of days. By the time we left, I had a whole network of new friends and mentors with whom I will always have a special relationship.
What really defined this mission trip for me were the times when I saw God’s presence in my own life. God’s presence created a deep feeling of peace and certainty that came as such a relief in a time of stress and self-doubt. In a period of my life filled with unknowns, doubts, and sources of stress, God used this trip to show me the kind of life He wants for me – an unshakable life. Surrounded by faithful friends and mentors, busy doing God’s work, God gave me a taste of a life shaken clean of worldly distractions and barriers, a glimpse at the peacefulness, certainty, and joy that come with a relationship void of those “created things” separating us from Him. It was a call to grow closer to Him and a reminder that He will remove all that can be shaken so only what cannot be shaken, our dependency on Him, will remain.
Now, my mission is to fulfill that call every day – accept God’s shakedown of my life, be willing to give up the “created things” which are barriers to an unshakeable relationship with God. Having been given a taste of the wholeness that comes from an unshakeable faith, I plan to do everything I can to maintain that relationship with Him. To you, my friends, I ask: are you willing to accept God’s shakedown in your life? Are you ready to be cleansed of the created things that separate you from Christ? For if you do these things, you are inviting God to radically shakedown your life and gift you the peace and wholeness that come with an unshakeable faith.