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Dust From My Rabbi


Life in  my shoes is about to radically change….. but before I can tell you what that is, let me tell ya a little bit about something else that has been on my heart. I promise it will all fit together in the end!

In ancient Israel (around the time of Jesus), the rabbis of the day would teach the Torah to the young Jewish boys. It would be like our elementary school these days except all these boys did was MEMORIZE the entire Torah…..Genesis to Deuteronomy. That’s a lot right? Well after that stage of schooling, many of the children left school to begin learning the trade of their families or to be an apprentice to someone else. Only the best of those who had been in school moved up to the next level of education where they literally memorized the rest of the Hebrew Scriptures… Genesis through Malachi.  Once that level was done most of those kids also ended up going into the family business, but once again, the best of the best extended their education and appealed to rabbis for a position as a disciple. These disciples weren’t just preparing to know what these rabbis knew. They were also learning to be more like their rabbi so obviously the rabbis were picky about who they chose. Only the best of the best of the best became disciples. These disciples would leave their families, their homes, their entire lives to follow in the footsteps of their rabbi. Learning to be like their rabbi, learning to do what their rabbi did. That is ultimately what it means to be a disciple. And one of the cool things about this context is that these disciples would be following their rabbi so closely that by the end of each day, their feet and legs would be completely covered in whatever dirt, dust, etc their rabbi kicked up on the roads. This is where the phrase “may you be covered in the dust of your rabbi” came from and everyone knew what that meant. Basically, you learned what it meant to be a rabbi and a true follower of God by learning to be exactly like your rabbi in every way. You emulated him completely. You literally learned by following his example.

So with that in mind, when Jesus, who many called a rabbi, called to Peter and Andrew and James and John who were fishermen, it was rather odd. Well, that might be putting it mildly. If Peter and Andrew were already fishermen, that meant that they weren’t the best of the best of the best. They had finished their schooling long before and had taken up their father’s trade. To most, Jesus calling to them and asking that they follow him was crazy because he was a rabbi and rabbis didn’t call lowly fishermen. They weren’t “good enough”. But when he called, they literally dropped what they were doing and followed him. Wouldn’t you go? I mean a RABBI came down the beach and asked them to follow him. DUH! You go!

The best part about this is that Jesus chose them, not because they were the best of the best, but because his movement is for everybody: the rich and the poor, the educated and the uneducated. It didn’t matter. Isn’t it interesting? Rabbis didn’t choose people unless they thought those disciples could learn to be like them. For Jesus to pick people who weren’t the scholars was setting his ministry up in that his message was for everyone. And together, those 12 disciples and Jesus changed the world.

So in this next year I am beginning a journey that will literally force me to forsake my life in the States in order to follow him. He’s called  me, a lowly “fisherman” if you will, and like Peter and James did, I am dropping my net to follow him. And I plan on following him so closely that the dust he kicks up on the road will be caked all over me at  each day’s end. Here’s what’s happening:

There is a program through Adventures in Missions called the World Race. No, it’s nothing like the Amazing Race. It’s an 11 month journey around the world literally following Christ into parts of the world where His love needs to be shared. You know, he didn’t hang out with the Pharisees because they weren’t willing to follow him. Instead, he hung out with the tax collectors, the prostitutes, the poor and the weak, the dying, the demon possessed. And as a disciple of Christ who has heard him call that is where I am going. Ya I’m nervous. I’m nervous about the possibility of failure more than I am of safety and having to leave my life behind. But you know what, God believes in me. He wouldn’t have called me if he didn’t think I could follow him. It’s like that saying, “God doesn’t call the equipped. He equips the called”. He BELIEVES in me. And because he believes in me, I know I can do it. It will be a hard year. I will live out of a backpack for 11 months only getting to talk to my family every so often and eating foods I would never try back home. I will see things that will break my heart. But at the same time, I know God is going to use me to demonstrate his love for the nations and that I will grow to be more like him in the process. I simply cannot wait.

So here are the details of my trip (as far as I know them as of now):

The 11 month journey takes us into 11 different countries to minister to. Mine are the following: Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, South Africa, Swaziland, Mozambique, Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, Romania, Ukraine. Each country will be different. I could find myself hanging out with orphans (my dream!!), preaching in churches, teaching English, ministering to women and children sex slaves, doing hard labor and so much more. In order to be able to do this, I have to raise $15,500 plus money for/ donations of gear and plane travel to my starting point. This trip is not about me although I fully expect that God will be working on me every moment of this trip. It is ultimately about taking Christ’s love and redemption to the poor and lost of our world. This is not a trip that I can fund by myself. Ultimately only God can make this happen. My prayer is that he does that through people like you who are reading this. I think he is calling me to do  make this journey at this specific time for many reasons. One of those includes the fact that I cannot by any means do this myself. I am used to being in control of finances and have paid for a good chunk of previous mission trips, but this one I simply cannot do alone. I am praying each day for God to help me give the control over to Him. I pray that he will move in your hearts and call you to join with me in this journey through financial support as well as prayer support.

If you do feel called to help bring his love and redemption to many of the lost and broken in the world through me, visit my World Race blog (after Monday June 4) and click on support me. I urge you to follow that blog as well as I will be updating that one *most likely* more often than I will this one. The blog address is: sarahriddlebarger.theworldrace.org

Help me follow in the footsteps of our Savior and may you be covered in the dust of our Savior as well.

Peace in His Calling


I have known for a long time that God had a unique plan for me. I can still remember the first time I felt God calling me to the mission field. At that time, I had no idea he was also calling me to be a teacher as well. One of the missionary families supported by my church gave a presentation on their work and I was engrossed. I was only about 9 years old, but I could feel God tugging at my heart and almost whispering that he had the same kind of experiences in mind for me.  For many years I struggled with that idea. To be honest, there are times I still struggle with that idea. Sometimes I feel quite bipolar about this calling. 

Some days, I simply cannot wait for the day he calls me to begin the adventure. I find myself becoming rather impatient and trying to run on ahead of his plans. (That works well let me tell you.) Teachers ask the all too famous question for any teacher candidate, “Why do you want to be a teacher? What do you plan to do with your degree?” and on and on. At these times, I love to share my reasons and my plans- sometimes…I will admit it comes from my want for recognition. Other times it is simply because I want people to be encouraged and to see how God can use us in the most interesting ways.

Other days, it scares me. There are times I am scared to tell anyone about what God has called me to do. What if I fail? What if it isn’t his calling and it is just something I want out of my life? (This I have struggled with often). Then I get into the process of thinking where he could possibly send me and I think:

What if He calls me into a place where war is about to be declared? What if He leads me into a desperate place where I have no answers to all the pain and suffering around me? What if I’m with Him in one of the literal darkest, most frightening places on the planet? What if something serious happens to me while I am there? What about my family? What if…..

And then oddly enough on these days, God brings a sense of peace over me…. and as terrifying as following God’s calling seems to me sometimes, my soul simply says, “Yes, God. Yes. Even if I have to go to the scariest place I can imagine, even if the world literally starts to crash down around me, even if I never see the people I love again, even if something happens to me or I cannot provide all the answers for the people I will be trying to reach. My heart and my soul are here for You to use.”

Who is the Gospel for, if not the most desperate?

What is the Gospel made for, if not the most dire situation?

When is the Gospel to ever find a more perfect time than people looking for a miracle from God?

I’ve realized that skirting the dangers for my benefit is not what the Gospel demands.

I believe God is sending his army- including me to those who need to be shown His enduring love and that in those times of doubt and sheer frailty, Satan is doing everything he can to keep us (me) out.

I’ve struggled for years with the idea that I am not the strongest Christian out there- and actually what really defines a “strong Christian” anyway? I struggle with prayer and I struggle with sharing the Gospel through words. And Satan has tried his hardest to use those weaknesses against me in my mind. But I am not going to let him win. Even if I am not the best evangelist, I care for people and I show them love through actions. Even if I am not the best at praying, God knows my heart even if I can’t speak the “right” words. Therefore, I believe that I’m ready to go wherever and whenever He calls, to do whatever He says, and to lose all of myself in the process. I am not afraid of what lies ahead because of the One who has gone before, the ONe who lies within. 

If Jesus is close to the brokenhearted, He is in every aspect of the place he decides to send me. And He wants to put a voice to his presence. He’s sending me. And though I don’t know when and I still struggle with patience and doubt in His timing, I will still trust. And though tomorrow might bring disappointment, I still will trust. And though tomorrow might bring jubilation, I still will trust. And though tomorrow might bring war and famine and poverty, and widows, and orphans, and death, I still will trust. 

God is never giving up. He’s pursuing His children with all He has. Declarations of war do not surprise Him. Human weakness does not stop him and neither do those matter. He is bringing His light in the midst of darkness, His comfort admits the carnage, His truth against the lies.

God is so much bigger than war, failure, famine, doubt, and all the other fears and dangers that could await me wherever He sends me. Jesus, much more powerful than the echelons of man. Holy Spirit, more tenacious than any army.

And with that in mind, my soul and my heart are at peace. I will be at peace even though it scares me to death sometimes. Tomorrow, come what may, I know God has a plan. And whether I am jetting towards the place He has called me for in days, months, years…..God is already there. He always has been. He always will be. But He’s going to let me be a part of it. He’s giving me the gift of making my life count. Not in the spotless halls of corporate wealth, but in the dirt and mud, holding onto the ones He loves. He’s never letting go of them or me. 

Come what may, He’s never letting go. 

Embracing my Struggles and Running Toward Him


Today I found out about an amazing missions opportunity and began the application. For those of you who don’t know, my heart is deeply rooted in serving Christ overseas when I graduate and this opportunity is something I am seriously considering and praying about. (Side Note: If you wouldn’t mind, I would appreciate all of you praying for me as I seek God’s council in this. It could be a life altering experience and I just need to know if it’s what He has planned for me. Thanks!)

Anyway, I started filling out the application because I know I am going to get pretty busy here in the next few months and it would just be a good idea to at least have some of it done just in case He says yes. Now, most applications for mission trips ask you about your relationship with Christ and maybe a little bit about you. They never truly seem to get down to the very specific parts of your life journey though. This application, however; did. And let me tell you, it was brutal and extremely hard to answer those questions. I had to continually stop typing because I literally couldn’t see the screen I was crying so hard. And now you are all proably wondering why I would ever want to fill out an application that made me bawl my eyes out right?! Well here is the beauty in it- As I was literally writing about some of the struggles and painful experiences in  my life, a thought came to my mind. It was another one of those thoughts that came directly from God because no way would I ever think of this myself. He told me “This is why I died for you. Even though you’ve sinned and messed up countless times and experienced things that no one should ever have to go though, I still love you. I LOVE you and I will carry you in my arms all the days of your life. You are mine and no one can take you away from me.” Wow. Powerful words. This is exactly what I needed to hear.

I go through so many days of life pushing those experiences and struggles as deep down as I can because they hurt, I am ashamed of them, and I don’t like having to remember. So many people who “know” me would never know most of what I had to write on that application because I have done a pretty solid job of stuffing it all away. Only a few very close friends and family members know a good deal of it, and even then, if I was completely honest, only God knows all of it.

We all have things in our lives that we keep hidden- out of shame, regret, or maybe simply because we don’t like to share everything with everyone. I have recognized in myself the same characteristics that Adam and Eve dealt with after they ate the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. I am ashamed of a lot of things in my past, whether I actually commited the acts or if they were done against me. And I find myself behaving the same way Adam and Eve did- by hiding from God and believing he can’t see it all. But he can- and he does. I cannot hide my struggles and problems from Him any more than a two year old can hide the fact that he has been in the cookie jar when his face has chocolate smudged all over it. He knows. He knows it all and he cares for me and loves me just the same.

I have got to stop trying to hide all my pain from Him. The only way I will ever fully be able to stand up proud and confident is if I allow Him to take all those burdens away- if I allow Him to carry them for me. God’s going to hold my heart. He’s going to be there when I fall and when I struggle. I only need to trust Him and allow Him to be there. We all have things in our past that we are not proud of, but that is what can give us such a great testimony! God puts us in tough situations for a reason and although we often don’t understand why, it all works into his plan perfectly. All I need to do is give up my hurt and pain to him and let him carry my burdens. He can handle it!

Me: According to Friends


Sarah: A cool girl, pretty, smart and funny. Her sweet smile and beautiful heart draw people to her. Compassion and love radiate from her soul. She yearns to be more like her Savior and follows in His footsteps. It is to Him that her heart belongs. Her passion for life is encouraging for those around her. She’ll lend a hand to anyone who needs it. She is fun to be around, and even though she may not know it, she has changed the lives of many people. She’s very romantic and a little bookish, but can also be crazy when she wants to. She’s very tomboyish but girly too. Usually very happy/positive, unless something emotionally or mentally crushing happens and even then she is strong, relying on God to help her through the rain. She is determined, having what it takes to get through the storms in her life. She isn’t a diva, but rather a humble, caring person with admirable character and an even more beautiful heart. She is an amazing girl who is special and different. She means the entire world to someone special and even more so, she means everything to Christ who gave everything up for her- even His life.

Horse Hair and Angel Kisses


Why horse hair and angel kisses?

Well if you know anything about me, you know that I LOVE horses so hence the horse hair. Someday, when I can afford it (if that ever happens) I want to own a ranch somewhere in Montana or Tennessee and have at least a few horses. Some may ask why I love horses so much.  Horses to me represent beauty. Beauty may be in the eyes of the beholder, but horses have inspired artists and poets through the ages. I am awed by the sight of a herd of horses galloping through a field – powerful, independent beasts but stunning to view. Horses are fun. There is no experience quite like galloping over an open field on the back of your best friend who enjoys it just as much as you do. I love to ride, but it’s not the only reason for my passion for horses. Truth is even if I didn’t ride I’d still  I love being around them. Horses relax me and intuitively seem to know what I need. It’s like having a best friend who knows exactly how you feel without you ever having to say a word. They free me from the cares and worries of my life. It’s like what Katie says at the end of the movie Flicka, “When I’m riding Flicka, all I feel…. is free.”

As well as horses, I absolutely LOVE kids too. They are my passion. I loved working in the nursery at my church at home in the Springs and miss it dearly. Today I work in the church nursery at a church close to my college. I am also pursuing a degree in Elementary Education with a concentration in ESL. After that, I have WAY too many dreams. Either I want to join YWAM and get an associate degree in Children’s Ministry or work in an orphanage somewhere in South or Latin America. Basically, I’d be happy working anywhere as long as I could work with kids, especially Hispanic children who hold a special place in my heart. To me kids and horses are a lot a like. They both have that emotional connection with me and can heal the pain. They make me laugh; they make me smile. I’ve had so many experiences with kids between my nursery class and those I’ve met in Guatemala that just touch my heart. I can’t even explain it. So why Angel kisses? because for me, kids (although sometimes problemsome) are angels in my book and their kisses make everything better. I love them so much. They are my biggest passion.