Last fall, Shelley Sessions felt as if something were missing. She wasn’t experiencing financial difficulties or marital issues. In fact, she appeared to have every reason to feel happy and content. But God used a series of events to stir within her a desire for more—to experience a life that went beyond belief.
“Here in the US, I find it very easy to get distracted by a computer or a good book,” Shelley said. “Something that offers temporary satisfaction but isn’t of long term value. And I was left feeling as if my time was wasted.”
As she prayed over this, God showed her that her personal entertainment time had become excessive. An escape that kept her from fully experiencing all God had planned for her. Feeling stuck and wanting help to process all God was showing her, she saw a counselor.
During their sessions, the counselor asked an important question. “Why are you so afraid to do hard things?” This helped Shelley recognize the ways she avoided difficult tasks and emotions, and motivated her to take steps toward change.
“When I saw an email come through regarding the Cuba Mission trip last summer, I thought, ‘I need to do this,’” Shelley said. “‘I need to step out of my comfort zone.’ My anniversary was coming, and this was something Scott and I could do together.”
The trip proved challenging and life-changing. Being one who likes to have a plan and know what she’s supposed to do, God used the flexible schedules inherent to mission trips to teach her to relinquish control and depend more consistently on Him. When the team’s plans for VBS or another previously arranged event changed, she found peace in surrendering to what God wanted to do instead of what she thought was going to happen. Through her experiences, God reminded her that the VBS and construction projects weren’t as important as simply connecting with others, hearing their stories, and watching God move in their lives.
She was most inspired by her Cuban brothers and sisters in Christ. “They had such a passion for Jesus,” Shelley said. “He wasn’t just part of their Sunday activity; He was their all. When they worship, they’re focused totally on Him. They’re totally engaged. It’s a different mindset.”
Ultimately, Shelley was reminded that living Beyond Belief is much more than giving to a campaign or attending a Sunday service. “Through this trip, it was as if God was saying to me, ‘I have so much more for you. Don’t be satisfied with where you’re at, and don’t be afraid to go further.’”
Written by: Jennifer Slattery