Joy Abundant

The past month (it’s been about six weeks actually) has been unlike any I have ever experienced. I had been feeling devastated by the ship, the m/v YWAM Liberty, being evacuated due to COVID and being left behind. I was feeling abandoned. God promised me that it would be okay and that He’d be with me through it, and obviously He has been.

It’s funny how dramatic things seem while we’re in them. When realistically, in the grand scheme of your life, six weeks is a VERY short amount of time. Even if you’ve been in quarantine for months now, if you look upon your entire life, it’s a pretty small season (even if it does feel like it’s been an eternity).

I spent six weeks living on the ship with just five other people. Two who speak limited English, one who worked the night shift (who I rarely saw) and two PNG Nationals, Gillian and Clament. I hung out with Gillian and Clament. Although there were ups and downs for sure, I came out on the other side with two really solid friendships; bonded by this weird experience that none of us has ever had with anyone else. Maybe we’ll get matching tattoos, idk. 

I picked up a TON of hobbies in this season, but I also was able to spend a lot of time with the Lord, listening to His voice and allowing Him to heal my heart. It wasn’t easy; some days were the loneliest I’ve ever experienced. I am so grateful to those of you who reached out to check in with me, and to just encourage my heart during this time. It made a huge difference.

One thing that God was really challenging me with over the past few weeks was, “Where is my joy rooted?” I found myself feeling so drained and depressed and serious all the time, and I asked God, “What the heck is going on? I’m fun! I used to be the life of the party, goofing off and joining in with every shenanigan, and now I can’t even bring myself to laugh at somebody else’s quip.” 

I began to understand that my joy has been rooted in my circumstances; in what I have to look forward to, the hope of plans being made, and the excitement of what’s around me. 

In this season of having all of that taken away from me, I felt like there was nothing to be joyful about. God began to remind me that my joy needs to be rooted in Him and what he’s done for me. Jesus died for me! He loves me, and I get to spend eternity with him! That is something to get butterflies in the stomach, can’t sleep ’cause I’m too excited over! 

I think so often we forget that, and all we see is the crap raining down around us. No matter how bad life gets, it pales in comparison to the goodness that has already been promised to us in eternity. 

In a sermon I recently listened to from my home church, the pastor was talking about how Jonah was unexpectedly swallowed up by a fish and had 3 days with nothing to do but hang out with the Lord. He compared this quarantine season to being inside the fish, and challenged us with, “How are you going to walk out of this season?” 

For me, I want to walk out of this season full of optimism and faith for the future. I want to have excitement in Christ, I want to live undignified, and in genuine joy of what Christ has done for me. It’s definitely been easier to talk than to walk this attitude, but God is helping me get better day by day. 

And despite desperately wanting to do nursing care, I still feel that God has called me to stay on board the ship until the engine rebuild is complete and it’s looking like our engineer will be able to return to the ship to finish the engine rebuild very soon! It’s very exciting that things are moving forward and God is being so faithful!

Ashley Meyers, Medical Coordinator and Purser
To read more about Ashley’s time in Papua New Guinea, click here.
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