DTS and YWAM is not only about a 6 month journey, it’s about the rest of your life. 7 years in YWAM has taught me lessons I will not forget, here are 5 of them…

1. God doesn’t want me to do things for Him, but with Him. I’m an Achiever, I can’t help but get things done efficiently and effectively. I hate wasting time and slowing down. The downside of this is that I often find myself performing and trying to work for God to try and please Him. What I’ve learned is that my performance doesn’t please God, but rather my heart, willingness and obedience. God desires to be in relationship with me and wants to do life with me, rather than me trying to perform or succeed on my own.

2. Every problem in the world is a relationship problem. I heard this during a DTS and at first I wasn’t sure if I agreed, but the more I thought about it, the more I agreed. Whether it’s conflict and brokenness between friends, family members, co-workers, strangers, or God, I could trace all problems I faced back to relationships. I realized how important they were and how I often neglected them or put other things before them. I saw how much emphasis God puts on relationships and began to realign my thinking with His.

3. Life is rarely ideal, but richer than I could ever imagine. I’m an American and love adventure, so the thought of living in Australia and doing Missions sounded blissfully ideal at age 24. I can assure you that my time on DTS or anytime in YWAM after was far from ideal. The idea of life with no conflicts, adversity or boredom sounds attractive. So many times, I have found myself saying, ‘if only…then I would be happy.’ As I look back on the last 7 years in YWAM, it was rarely ideal, but it far richer than I could have ever imagined. It was quite commonly the challenges and ‘less than ideal’ situations that made it rich.

4. God has grace for everything I go through but I must choose it. I’m not naturally adaptable. A changing schedule is a part everyday life when traveling overseas, so I needed to find a healthy way to cope with change to avoid a mental meltdown. One of the big stressors for me in change is that I’m not prepared for it because don’t see it coming. One day I realized that even though I didn’t see the change coming, God did and He let it happen, so I could trust He gives me the grace to walk through those unexpected changes. Whether I approached the situation stressed or at peace, I was going to have to face reality. My choice was simple: walk through kicking and screaming, wishing life was different or trust He has grace for me and choose to receive it.

5. If I want to find my life, I must lose it first. Jesus repeats this throughout the Gospels, but how many of us, even Christians take it seriously? I went to the jungle of Indonesia 5 years ago. One day, the children came, took us by the hand and paraded us through town, singing songs and walking us to a ‘swim hole.’ When we arrived, the hole looked more like mud hole than a place to swim. Immediately the kids began to strip their clothes and jump in. They emphatically motioned for us to join. I was disgusted by the mud water, but I couldn’t walk away and disappoint them. In the moment, it felt like my dry clothes were the last thing left, the last form of ‘comfort.’ I had surrendered my schedule, friends, sleeping arrangements, Christmas, and finances, but was I willing to give up and surrender again? I jumped in, saying ‘Jesus you have my whole life’ in my heart. Swimming and splashing around, I felt pure joy come over me. I had surrendered my whole life and found the freedom and life I was searching for.