I met JoBeth Collins about 7 years ago. This summer, on July 30th, I get to marry her. There are a lot of emotions that come with this: sadness for both of us about leaving behind a stage of life, nervousness about making ends meet, curiosity about what the next couple of years will look like, and most prominently, such joy at the thought of getting to spend the rest of my life with the girl that I love so dearly.
I am a full time student ministry intern, and JoBeth is a full time student. She will have another year of school after we get married. The timing of our marriage might have some people scratching their heads. We are young. We are relatively poor (at least as far as people in our circles of life think of being poor). We don’t have a very detailed five year plan (aside from some places we would like to visit and things we would like to do). As far as most people are concerned, we are just another couple of kids that are young, dumb, and in love.
To add to the mix, we are going on a mission trip to Asia this summer, Lord willing. We will get back just a couple weeks before our wedding. It feels a little crazy, almost a little irresponsible. Is it really wise to be way, way out of the country so close to our wedding day? Not only that, but we will need to raise about 2,000 dollars for the trip. During an engagement season where family has blessed us so tremendously and we have been blown away by people’s generosity, it almost feels selfish to ask for anything more. Young, dumb, irresponsible, selfish, and in love.
At least, that is one narrative of our story. But I really believe there is more to it than that. Yes, our path thus far and our future trajectory are a little unorthodox. We have come to embrace that. But at the heart of that unorthodox trajectory is a desire to hold our own plans with an open hand while walking obediently along the path that God has set before us. We aren’t always sure where God is directing us but we want to do our best to follow Him, even when it seems dumb, irresponsible, or selfish.
I’m reminded of a story in Luke Chapter 5. Jesus encountered some experienced fishermen who had been out on the water all night without catching anything. After they had spent hours cleaning up their equipment and right before they called it a night, Jesus told them to go out into deep water and let down their nets. Jesus, the carpenter, was telling these fishermen how to do their job. Not only that, but he was giving them advice that was inconvenient, costly, and unorthodox. But Peter responded to this strange command by saying “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” They did just that, and they brought in a load of fish that was so heavy it started to sink their boat. This thing that Jesus was telling them to do didn’t make much sense by the world’s standards. The guys would have been exhausted and ready to head home for the day. But instead of rolling their eyes and going on with their business, Peter so faithfully responded and said, “Because you say so, I will let down the nets.”
For Peter and his disciples, following Jesus meant taking their boat into deeper waters and letting down their nets after a long day of unsuccessful fishing. For JoBeth and I, I think it means getting married earlier than some people might think is wise and going on a mission trip across the globe a few weeks before our wedding. There are a ton of unknowns and things that we have yet to figure out. But to the best of our ability, we are attempting to move forward in this life with open hands, looking for God’s leading, and just like Peter, responding “Because you say so.. we will go.”
One of the hardest parts of our decision to go on this trip is that it requires us to ask our friends and family for help. The church has been so gracious to cover my expenses, so JoBeth and I just need to raise 2,000 dollars between the two of us. If you would be up for helping JoBeth and I get there, we would love and appreciate your support. The simplest way for us to think about it is that if 100 of our friends gave 20 dollars, it would be covered. We won’t be setting up a GoFundMe or anything because we want to make sure that any money that you give will go directly towards the trip. So, if you feel comfortable, you can send money directly to us through Facebook, Venmo, PayPal, etc. Alternatively, you can send in a check to Cedar Springs Presbyterian Church at 9132 Kingston Pike, Knoxville, TN 3923, and write “Asia Team-JoBeth Collins” in the memo.
We don’t expect anything from anybody. But we are trusting, and we are eager to see how God provides in this exciting season of life. If you are able to come alongside us financially, we would be so grateful. If you are not able to give but want to pray for us, we would be so grateful. If you think this seems like a crazy idea and you are shaking your head at this whole post, well, we are still so grateful that you care enough to think it is crazy.
We will keep updating all of our friends and family through this blog, and in the next week we’ll hear from JoBeth, the main character of this crazy narrative, about her heart for this trip. Thanks so much for reading, we look forward to hearing from you.