By Jenny Erlingsson
God's Brave Women - Jenny's Story
I didn’t want to say yes. Yes meant that I would have to give up so much more than I was ready for. I wanted to obey God—to please Him in every way. But I didn’t want to say yes to a move that would take me away from my family, friends and the rhythm of life I’d known for decades.
But maybe in our call to step out to Iceland, Jesus was also saying yes to me.
Several years before this, my husband—who was immersed in inner-city work in Huntsville, Alabama—felt stirred in his heart for his home country. He was born and raised on the southern coast of Iceland, but after encountering Jesus in 2002, he remained in the US. When we married in 2010, I remember reassuring myself that I was safe from any major change because my Viking husband would never move back to Iceland. He was too involved in the community to do anything else. Right?! I was also working full-time as a pastor on a large church staff. I have since learned multiple times over that I should never assume and absolutely never say never.
"I remember reassuring myself that I was safe from any major change because my Viking husband would never move back to Iceland... I have since learned multiple times over that I should never assume and absolutely never say never."
As my husband felt a pull to go, I began to put up walls around my heart—brick by brick. I didn’t want to hear about this desire of his. And let’s face it, I didn’t know if we would be able to survive in one of the most expensive countries in the world.
In 2016, we took a trip to visit family in Iceland. During an afternoon break, I started reading a book by a missionary family based in Mexico. The author told of his experiences traveling to villages to minister and the encounters he had with Jesus. In that moment, out of the overflow of my hungry heart, I whispered these words, “Jesus, if you will meet me here too, I will come.”
"Out of the overflow of my hungry heart, I whispered these words, “Jesus, if you will meet me here too, I will come.”"
Jesus didn’t forget those words of mine as He led our family on a journey of discovery. He brought confirmation after crazy confirmation that not only solidified our call to Iceland, but revealed the lies I had believed about His nature. He spoke words to my heart like “Going will not be at the cost of your children” and “when you go, more will come.”
He reminded me that the experiences of my childhood did not have to dictate how He would provide in the future. I could trust God with my triggers. I could trust Him with my children. I could trust the guidance of the husband he’d placed in my life.
"He reminded me that the experiences of my childhood did not have to dictate how He would provide in the future."
By the time we entered the plane for Iceland on August 14th of 2018, I still had a lot of uncertainty but also a lot of joy. Because in saying yes to Jesus, he was saying yes to me too. Affirming me and anchoring me in ways I never would have imagined if I hadn’t taken those shaky steps of obedience.
On this side of things, despite different challenges, I’ve seen the Lord bring about more than I ever dared to expect. The favorite verse of childhood, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart” has come to pass in vivid, tangible reality (Psalm 37:4 ESV).
"In saying yes to Jesus, he was saying yes to me too. Affirming me and anchoring me in ways I never would have imagined if I hadn’t taken those shaky steps of obedience. On this side of things, despite different challenges, I’ve seen the Lord bring about more than I ever dared to expect."
From this lovely island of Fire and Ice, I’ve seen my family flourish. Strength and faith deepening in my children as they speak in two tongues and learn to appreciate uniqueness. I’ve seen my husband grow in stature and break open the expectations of others as he ministers around the country. Provision has poured into our lives that has allowed us to run with God’s purpose, bringing His love as best as we can to the community around us.
When I thought I would have to give up my love of writing to be a good missionary, God used my previous books to open up doors of ministry here. And then recently I was able to join my literary agency and sign a publishing contract for my first novel.
As I wrestled those years ago with what the Lord was calling our family to do, I could not have imagined what He had planned on the other side of our obedience. That is not what we go after anyway.
Saying yes to God, is saying yes to Him, not what he can give us.
"Saying yes to God, is saying yes to Him, not what he can give us."
But in my quest to never say never, I will say this—I will never cease to be amazed at how Jesus has met me here. In this place where my shaky faith can be exchanged for deep roots and the desire to say yes, over and over again.
Brave Woman Manifesto
Make sure to check back next week as another courageous Sister shares her story.
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Jenny is an author, speaker, wife to a handsome Viking from Iceland, and mother to four equally cute and feisty kids. After twelve years in pastoral ministry in Alabama, her family followed the call of God to Iceland. From there, Jenny continues her passion for writing, creating and encouraging others. Her two published works, Becoming His and Milk & Honey in the Land of Fire & Ice, combine non-fiction, biblical fiction and prose to help women cultivate Christ-Centered Identity, Intimacy and Influence.
Over the years she has spoken at conferences, gatherings, small groups and Bible studies, and she continues to do so in and from Iceland. Her next project is her debut novel with Revell Books.