Prior to surrendering my life to Jesus, the word ‘mission’ would have revolved around my goals, my visions and my dreams that would set me up for success and accolades. Today my mission is very different. When I handed over every detail of my life to Jesus, my mission turned into God’s mission and His will for my life. Over the last 13 years my assignments have changed as God has pruned and moulded me into a very different person.
During this time, when I was on a quest and hit a brick wall, I would look up and ask God, ‘Why?’ and he would say, ‘That was your assignment Iona, not mine – you did that totally on your own.’ I do get very enthusiastic and passionate about certain projects and sometimes forget to pray about whether it’s God’s will or not. I have hit many brick walls and still carry the bruises so I am learning to stop and ask before I dive in. My husband Jeff always says I’m like a hamster on a wheel – I never stop. But to keep myself in check I now surrender everything to Jesus every morning, preferably before I get out of bed. A passage of scripture that stays close to my heart and kicks me back into reality is Matthew 10.39, “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.”
Today, I know what my mission is and that is to spend time with Jesus, in silence, and listen. As Psalm 46.10 says, “Be still and know I am God.” It’s a season of going one step deeper in my relationship with Jesus because I know that every tangible encounter radically transforms me. One of the hardest things for my generation to do is to sit still and listen. During the past months of living through the COVID-19 pandemic I have felt God saying to all of us, ‘Stop, look up and focus on me and only me’. I love the song Look up Child by Lauren Daigle – the words are so relevant when she sings, ‘Where are you now when the world is crumbling? I hear you say look up child.’ He is shaking the world and we need to refocus – we need to focus on God.
As a professional sportswoman I have learned the importance of how our thoughts affect everything, especially our ability to focus. I would not have been able to ski at 160kph without a focused mind and an awareness that moved me into what athletes call the ‘zone’. Learning to take control of your mind and your thoughts can change your world, and when you add Jesus to the mix you start living a supernatural life filled with love, hope, peace and freedom. One of my favorite Bible passages is 2 Corinthians 3.17, ‘Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.’
I would not have been successful in speed skiing without the discipline of mental training, which is learning to relax the body and still the mind – some people call it mindfulness. When COVID-19 turned our world upside down I went into an intense time of prayer. I wanted to know what my mission was for God. I had come to visit our farm in Australia for three weeks with the intention of travelling back to Dubai to be with Jeff and our eight rescued pets – that was five months ago and I’m still on the farm. I know this is a season to sit at Jesus’ feet in silence. As the Lebanese monk Saint Cherbel said of God, ‘If you do not understand My silence you will not understand My words.’
Every daily encounter I have with Jesus helps me love and understand him more and it also helps me see his will for my life with so much more clarity. There is no mission more important in my life right now than to spend it sitting in stillness in his presence and hearing his voice direct my next steps.
Iona Rossely is a top sporting champion who competed as a speed skier for Britain and then an equestrian endurance rider for Ireland. She is now a lay minister for the Anglican Church in Australia, an artist, speaker and avid animal lover and her passion is sharing her testimony on how God gave her a new life – one of freedom, peace and joy. Her full story can be read in Racing on Empty, a fascinating new autobiography where she shares her story of a near fatal accident and the years she spent chasing dreams of fame and glory on the sporting stage in her search for purpose, hope and meaning.