I’ve always had a deep fascination and love for cities. The multitudes of people, fast pace environment, streets made for wandering and even the unidentifiable smells make for a place like no other. When the opportunity to move to New York presented itself I felt the Lord tell me to go for it, which was equal parts exciting and terrifying. Thankfully every reason to be sacred, every doubt built up in my mind were all set at ease within a short period of moving to New York. He worked out every detail, and Jesus confirmed, this is home, this is where your heart is.

Yet it was after this clear confirmation that I felt the Lord telling me your faith will be tested. I braced myself for the worst external circumstance but what I failed to realize were the doubts in my faith that I wasn’t even willing to admit to myself. They were like grains of sand, deeply hidden and swept under the rug so I wouldn’t have to deal with them.  So when I felt Him say, “Your faith will be tested,” my arms flew out to brace myself and in that moment I realized it’s not just can I handle this, but “Do I even want to? Because I’m kind of comfortable where I am.“

From miracles to spiritual gifts and the movement and presence of the Holy Spirit, each week brought about something new. Jesus was continuously asking, “But what do you really believe?” And as we dug deeper I began to comprehend what I had been trying to hide all along. He was there with me and unceasingly questioning, “How deep do you love me and how much do you trust me? You are still trying to do this on your own, instead hold tight to the hope I am providing. Trust in me fully and I promise there will be no reason to be afraid.” And it was then that I realized I had feared this challenge all along.  “Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams, because every second of the search is a second’s encounter with God and with eternity.”  I will encounter You, Father; I will see the Holy Spirit at work. I will step outside my old and comfortable ways and give it all to Jesus.

And when I had come to terms with this, He unfolded a day that left me speechless. Conversations at work that are typically straight to the point and focused around materialistic wants and needs suddenly slowed down and changed tone. Within a single workday I had eight incredibly genuine conversations with those I encountered. Just one is a good day, two I must be lucky but eight is unheard of and can only be Jesus. And the best part was it didn’t end there. That night as I walked to dinner party I was stopped three times on the street — a couple needing directions, a woman in need of a warm meal and a panicked teenage girl who just needed someone there.

It felt as if Jesus was grabbing me by the shoulders and shaking me saying, “Do you see it? I’m here in this city and these are my people whom I love tremendously. Go love them the same way that I love you.” Those are His sons and daughters, every single one of those people are loved by Him. And when I take a minute to let it soak in, it’s overwhelming. Jesus’ love has no match; it surpasses all limitations, and when I ask Him to make me feel the same way about His people, I want to high-five to every person walking past, squeeze tightly to those who He places directly before me and cry tears of joy every time I think about this incredible love.

And through all this He gives me immense hope, a hope that is unwavering when I put my faith in Him. New York was the hope to be a part of something bigger, to go beyond all boundaries and limitations I put on myself and step out into the unknown. Now I’m receiving a small glimpse of the love, hope and vision He has for this city. When asked who Jesus is I’m immediately overwhelmed with emotion; that’s new territory for me but I wouldn’t have it any other way.