Finding My Voice

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That is what I want you to feel as you see my first blog in quite awhile. I can hear it now,

Yay, Trent. You’re our hero!

Screams are going on in the background. A parade walks by. News anchors crowd at my front door,

Today a young man has found his way home to his keyboard and computer screen. After an absence from American life and living over a year traveling the world, Trent Hope has finally found his voice again.

No sweat. No biggie. I’m back and ready for a new chapter. Besides, I need something to talk about at my 10 year high school reunion this year. Here’s my battle cry:

To create environments that allow people to feel loved and open to God’s calling on their lives.

I LOVE people
I LOVE community
I LOVE fellowship
I LOVE learning and growing together
I LOVE traveling the world

I am called to make disciples. My goal is to help those I lead to see themselves as God sees them and to help them discover the gifts and calling God has placed in their heart.

God’s Plan of Redemption is Not My Plan of Redemption

“The spiritual life begins with the acceptance of our wounded self.” – Brendan Manning

“Our plan for redemption is hard to let go of; it clings to our hearts like an octopus.” – John Eldredge

“Apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5)

If you had seen me a few months ago, you would have seen a boy struggling to make his way. I know faith is not based on works, but I began to base it on job performance and spiritual disciplines. If I worked harder, then I would eventually free up time to focus on my spiritual life. If I focused on my spiritual life, then my connection with God would get closer. My life was an if/then formula. John Eldredge hit the nail on the head, this was my plan of redemption, not Gods.

I honestly do not know what I really expected going into training camp.  It was the first breather I had had in a long time. Each “break” prior to training camp (Four of July, Easter, Christmas) was really more winding down than focusing on my own spiritual health. This week there was no avoiding it. I remember the whole drive to training camp I was trying to let go of all responsibilities and all expectations. My jaw was shut tight and my hands fiercely gripped the wheel. I could not even use cruise control since I was so tense. I was so used to controlling my own life and my own situations.

The Adventures in Mission staff say that our training camp was intense and like no other. I believe it. They were heavy on lectures the first few days of training camp. I think we spent pretty much all of the first three days in the auditorium listening and taking notes. Each session dove deeper and deeper emotionally and spiritually. Here is an entry from my journal:

Yesterday they asked us if we had ever grieved our past, not just simply asked for forgiveness, but grieved our old sinful self. I sat there and thought. I do not think I have ever grieved my past. Maybe that is why it still haunted me so. Maybe it was holding me back. One can ask for forgiveness over and over, but until you can fully accept and acknowledge that Christ has covered all your sins you will still circle back over and over to guilt and shame. I had been doing that for years, circling back to who I was, falling back into pits that I had asked for forgiveness from. I was the dog who was eating its vomit (Proverbs 26:11). 

God began really working in me hardcore that day. It was the first time in a long time that he had my full and undivided attention.  In fact, one of the first things I heard him speak to me that week was, “So how has your Christian walk been up to this point?” My response? “It sucks!” Up to that point I had struggled with the thought that Christ is working out my salvation, not me. There was nothing, nothing I could do to gain more of His love or become more Christian. I could not fully see that my identity was in Christ, not in my job, friends, culture and more. I had no control, He was in control. I don’t create my identity, He shows me my identity is in Him.

Try as we might by our appearance, performance or social status to find self-verification for a sense of being somebody, we always come short of satisfaction. Whatever pinnacle of self-identity we achieve soon crumbles under the pressure of hostile rejection or criticism, introspection or guilt, fear or anxiety. We cannot do anything to qualify for the by-product of being loved unconditionally and voluntarily. – Neil T. Anderson

I have been a Christian since I was a young boy. I have always known God loves me and Christ died for me. But I have never fully grasped nor trusted that He accepts me for who I am, He is the one who makes me more of a man and He is the one who frees me from myself and makes me more like Him each day. Nothing and no one else can give me full satisfaction, unconditional love and self-worth other than Him.

There are bigger things that God did that week that I hope to share with you in time, but I know that the change that has occurred in my heart during and since training camp is more than enough to justify writing this to you, my fellow viewers, supporters, alumni and squad mates. I am not the same man I was two months ago. Change has happened. Change is continuing to happen because of Him.

A new season of life has been birthed. God is good.

How to Leave Ordinary And Become Extraordinary – Part Three

In the first two parts (1 and 2) of this three part series I broke down the steps it took for me to leave the ordinary and become extraordinary. To be honest, this is just the beginning of me leaving the ordinary. These words are here merely to help you know how hard it is to actually let go. Sometimes we never fully let go when we think we had.

I knew training camp for the World Race was going to be hard, but I never really knew how hard. Not one inch of my character was left untouched. I thought the hard part of accepting my year as a missionary was over, but God was now ready for me to become more. Adventures in Missions, the organization I am going through, organized training camp very well. Sessions were carefully crafted to help break down our emotional and spiritual barriers. They do not mess around. If we are going to be living in 11 countries for 11 months we’ve got to learn fast. 

The two sessions that helped me keep moving from ordinary to extraordinary were called “Healing and Forgiveness” and “Grieving the Seasons of our Lives.” The first session helped me to understand that I had asked for forgiveness in all areas of my life. It helped me to know that I was not holding back any anger, bitterness, or resentment. I was able to clarify and bless those who had offended me in the past and see them as human and sons and daughters of God. My heart was still heavy. Heavy because I realized that I could start focusing ahead. At the end of the session on healing and forgiveness we were told to look into the eyes of the person standing next to us and affirm them that “God loves you”. My heart began to fully accept healing because I realized how much God had accepted me for who I was. Tears started to well up in my eyes as a brother-in-Christ, Zach, grabbed me by the shoulders and repeatedly told me, “You are loved. You are loved by God. God loves you. You are his son.” Lip-quivering and all, I tried to say it back to him, but nothing came out. God was healing my heart. I was a mess, but I had no idea how much more he was about to break me.

The next day we had a session called “Grieving the Seasons of Our Lives.” This session piggy-backed on what all I had learned the day before. It was time for me to grieve. Why? When you grieve a lost season, it no longer has a foothold on you. If you don’t grieve it deadens the heart and we began to compartmentalize our hearts.  Grieving seasons births resolve not to miss what God has for you in the next season of life. You have to understand that this is where my heart was, I had compartmentalized my faith. Emotional, physical, relational and sexual pain each had it’s own compartment. If one of the areas began to show up more than another, I would focus on a less painful area of my life to go to. I was never really trusting that God has covered it all and that he made me fully new. I had a shallow outlook on life. I was in denial.

That night, I prayed hard. I prayed God would do a work in me. I prayed that I could grieve my lost season in life. No, i did not re-live all my past sins, I did not focus on them, for God had forgiven me. But I needed to grieve them. Guys don’t grieve. We keep it in. I sat in one of the chairs in the chapel and leaned forward crossing my arms. With my forehead on my arms and eyes closed I asked God, “God I’m ready. Holy Spirit help me grieve my old season and move forward into this new season. Help me to pursue your will for my life. God do not let anything of my past hold me back any more!” I prayed this over and over. I asked God to make the Holy Spirit fully-known in my heart and to guide me into this next season. People walked by and prayed for me and finally when Zach, my squad leader and Brother-in-Christ sat down next to me, I began to grieve. He spoke words of affirmation into my heart and told me that I am worthy of God’s love. I am worthy in his eyes. That his plans are great for me this next year and to give this past season all to Him. 

So I cried. I grieved. I let out the deepest and more freeing tears I have ever cried in my life. He was making me new. Through each deep sob and gasp for breath, God was releasing me into a whole new season of life. He has immeasurably more planned for me in this next year and now I was ready to pursue it. I had started moving from ordinary and embracing extraordinary.

Behold, I am doing a new thing;
    now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
    and rivers in the desert.

Isaiah 43:19


How to Leave Ordinary And Become Extraordinary – Part Two

Part Two: Going All In

In my previous post I talked about how culture affects who we are and who the church is. I ended my post talking about how I had to make the most important decision of my life, stepping away from the influence of culture and into the influence of a mighty God. The only thing that separated me from a life of faith, trust, risk and obedience was one more step, the step of giving the first donation to my year of missions myself.

Flash back to this past September. As I sat in front of my computer screen, my heart began to pace faster and my tongue felt dry. “Just do it, Trent”, I said in my head, “what do you have left to lose? You will be okay. You are young. You have so much ahead of you.” I looked back at my past few years and saw all the blessings and good things that came my way. But I began to look forward and see what all God was ready to give me if only I was willing. The donation page for my World Race trip was opened and ready for my information.

“What about your job? What about your loans? What about your 401k? What about your house? What about finding a woman and settling down?” These thoughts popped in and out of my head as my shaky hand headed for my wallet. “Trust Him, Trent. Trust that God knows what he is doing and that no matter what happens he will provide for you.”

Oh this feeling. The anxiety and rush of emotions was something we don’t feel to often these days in America. Risk? What’s that? Trust? Who needs it? Faith? When did I last use it? My world was so bland. My world was so gray and my life was ready for color and adventure. No more rainy days. No more muffled sounds. I needed life to abundance and love to the fullest.

“Do it. Do it Trent. Go all in!”

My hands began to type in all my credit card information and before I knew it I was at the final submit button. I looked down, wide-eyed and mouth slightly ajar. My finger twitched as it hovered over the “enter” button. “I’ve got you, boy.” I blinked. God whispered. I took a gulp and clicked the mouse.

It is finished.

I sat back in the chair, hands covering my face. What had I gotten myself into? What was going to happen? Where do I go from here? I had no idea. But one thing I knew for sure. I had never felt so alive. I was diving in. I was letting go. But I had no idea how much I was about to really give up. I had been obedient, but God was asking for more.

Part Three: This Week!