I’m taking a break from #Write31Days this evening, but I have a new post that went live on the Velvet Ashes blog today. I think it’s a message many of us need to hear whether we are living and serving overseas or honoring the Lord daily in our hometowns.
When it comes to contentment, I so desperately need GOD’s help to guard my mind and my heart. I need Him to help me say “no” to the things that aren’t necessarily bad but aren’t good for me either. I can’t peacefully live the quiet life He has called me to without fully resting in His provision.
I hope you enjoy this post, and I hope you will poke around the VA page for a while. It has been a huge blessing to me. I’m currently leading a Connection Group, and I would recommend joining one to any lady serving overseas in any capacity.
Contentment is Counter-Cultural
I’m getting pretty fed up with Instagram lately. I chose to make my account private so I have to approve all follow requests. I would estimate that around 80% of my requests are phony. Generally, they are fitness gurus who want me on their team changing my lifestyle — oh, and selling stuff. If it’s not them, it’s got to be some hipster blogger who certainly has no interest in my account of life in Nepal but has every intention of influencing me to boost my lifestyle to boost her bottom line.
Discontentment sells. It sells in America. It sells in my host-country of Nepal, and it sells all over the world. Our hearts are fragile, and we are easily influenced. “Get a better body in 8 weeks,” or “Transform your home with 1 can of paint” — no matter the tagline, the message is the same: your life and the person behind your social media feed is not acceptable as is. I fall for it just about every time. Discontentment fuels economies and fills bank accounts, but it does nothing for the soul…
My days start and end with little things. In the middle are a bunch more little things. I have choices to make to serve God faithfully despite what may be the disappointing details of a monotonous day. My husband may call me and ask me to do something I have no interest in doing in order to help him or our ministry. The phone may ring with a needy friend on the other side who needs more than a few minutes of my time again. I may get a message from my son’s school that I need to bring him another pair of underoos because this potty-training thing is so much harder than we all thought it would be. I’m on the other side of the world. Before coming here, it felt like such a big mission. Now, in the daily-grind, it can feel so small.
Revisiting Little Things from 2015
In 2015, I wrote a post called Faithfulness in Little Things. It’s funny now how some of those things seem like big things. Faithfulness in attending language school every day has allowed me to share the Gospel, teach groups of women, and disciple young ladies in my second language. Spending time daily with the Lord each day has grown my faith in Him and my understanding of the Gospel. Loving and encourage my husband through learning a language and planting a church has allowed him to remain faithful to the Lord and his work here and helped our marriage to flourish.
The Little Things of 2018 and Beyond
It seems that missionaries often get praised for their “sacrifice” to follow the Lord to foreign lands with Gospel dreams in their hearts. But faithfulness to the call is not the be-all and end-all to a life lived for Christ. We are called to faithfulness in all aspects of our lives from the most mundane tasks to extreme acts of faith. The truth is, my days are made up of little things. The big thing of moving my family to the mission field was just the beginning. Now, my life is made up of children’s school schedules, homework, dinner-prep, and connecting with local people for a few minutes at a time. There are some moments that feel like “real ministry. Other moments seem counterproductive to what I think I ought to be doing.
Faithfulness today makes fruitfulness tomorrow. Little today means a little more tomorrow. God sees my struggle to be faithful in the little things. He will show up in big ways to help me stay the course. Loving babies and laundering clothes may not feel like holy work, but it can be. May the little acts of faith and patient endurance in my life add up to the things dreams are made of. I pray the Lord smiles on my little heaps of faithfulness as He bestows on me greater opportunities to stretch my faith. I desire to serve Him in bigger ways, but He may only ever require an endless string of little things. I pray I will be faithful in that, too.
From start to finish, and all the moments in between, I want to be faithful in all the little things. I trust that when I look back a few years from now just like I did today, I will see that they were actually pretty big.
I sit with my friend in her one-room home, and I take in all that she does from how she makes her tea to her preferences on dressing her son. I take note of what she watches on TV and what she says when she answers the phone. Much of what I have learned about my host culture has come through observing the behavior of others in this way. I play audience to everyone I meet here in attempt to understand, imitate, and appreciate their culture.
They don’t mind giving it right back. She asks me a laundry list of questions, mostly about why we do things differently than they do in regards to our children or dietary habits. She watches how I discipline my kids and inquires about my choice of fingernail polish. It used to bother me, feeling picked apart, but I know that she is seeking to understand my culture. I also know, that because our family lives somewhat counter-culturally, her whys will lead me to opportunities to talk about Christ’s difference in our life. She — and by God’s grace, many others — is my audience.
In all these encounters, I have a great opportunity to showcase Christ. I don’t live my life performing for Him because I know He is perfectly pleased with me because of the blood sacrifice. However, I do wish to honor that sacrifice in my daily interactions. Ultimately, He is the audience I am acutely aware is with me and watching at all times. I want to acquaint each member of my audience with Him so they may also have the wonderful gift of His presence in their lives.
Three Audiences of My Life
I am someone’s audience
This can be something healthy like learning culture or it can be entirely something else. I recently unfollowed a bunch of accounts on Instagram. While I can’t necessarily recall why I started following theses accounts in the first place, I realized that few of them were feeding me as they should but were rather tempting me towards unhealthy comparison and envy. I had willingly become a part of their audience without concern for what this decision would do for my heart. This lesson is not applicable only to my online life but to my daily life as well. I must be mindful of who and what I allow to influence me.
Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life (Proverbs 4:23).
Other people are a part of my audience
Generally, it’s just two little people, but it still holds true — there are people watching me. This may include people in our ministry, in our neighborhood, or in my little corner of the internet world. While I do not seek the approval of others, I desire to live a life that uplifts the name of Christ and blesses others. I do not perform for my audience, but in the Spirit I try to model who I am made to be in Jesus.
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven (Matthew 5:16).
I should seek only to please one audience
I hesitated to write about this because the whole “Audience of One” thing seems so cliche, but there’s a reason it has caught on. The temptation to perform for others or present our lives to be a certain way is real and ever-present — especially in the digital age. I don’t perform for others, but I don’t perform for God either. That is, I don’t work to please Him. I know because I’m covered in the blood, He is already pleased with me. Instead, I seek to honor that great sacrifice by living in a way that glorifies Him and celebrates my standing with Him.
And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ. (Colossians 3:23-24).
I’m watching. They’re watching. But most importantly, HE is watching.
I “make” God big in my life when I seek to honor Him in all my interactions.
The biggest holiday in this country is happening right now. It’s strange how lifeless our neighborhood is during the day. At night, some festive gatherings take place and the volume takes it up a few notches. Most shops are closed and many people have gone out to the villages to celebrate with their family. My kids get their longest break from school at this time (they only got 8 days for summer break!). They will be home for a whole two weeks. I’m enjoying having them home, but it is sort of a shift in mindset and mode for me. With few people around to connect with and even less to do, I feel somewhat lost and limited.
Keeping up the house with these tornadoes home all day has been challenging. Every time I clean up a mess, two more are made! My routines have been completely undone, and I started this break with an empty fridge and pantry — total rookie move. I can ride the waves of these emotions of failing my family and not being useful in ministry at this time. This is what I would typically do, but thankfully, I’ve really had a shift in understanding of these matters in the last year.
It’s a major trap of the enemy to make us slaves to our own roles and callings. He tells us that we are what we do, but the Scripture tells us something completely different.
But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods. But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?
The Gospel tells me who I am. I am a beloved daughter of the King of the world. He bestows the fulness of His love and His richest blessings on me… on purpose! I’m not a slave to the law or to my roles or callings. What I do does not define who I am. Who I am is unchanging because He who holds me is unchanging. He’s not counting the dirty dishes in the sink or how many times I’ve lost my temper with my kids today. Yet, He delights when I walk in repentance as a child who messes up but truly desires to please her Father.
Productivity or pursuit of perfection in my life can put me right back into bondage, but I am made to be free. I can be free not because of anything I’ve done but because of what Christ has done. All because I am known of God and loved by God. I want to say I’m never going back, but I know the vulnerability of my heart to fall into this snare again and again. I’ll keep telling myself — and Satan too — that I belong to Christ, and I am not a slave to anyone or anything.
My house may be a wreck, my kids may be a bit wild, and I may not get any “real” ministry done this week. but one thing sets my heart straight: I am treasured by God.
How does your identity as a child of God change how you leave each day?
We have worked with a woman for over a year and a half and have shared the Gospel with her countless times. My husband has gone through discipleship lessons with her and her son during this time, and they have eaten countless meals together while discussing spiritual things. What is completely heart-breaking is that she isn’t getting it. She has spent so much time dabbling in other religions and much more feeling justified by her own good works. She can’t see what we call can see — she is lost.We see that she is restless. Her lack of peace is palpable, but she is numb to it. She has stopped searching.
I’m not sure what to do in a situation like this beyond being faithful to love her and tell her the truth. It can be tempting to see ourselves as above others like this lady because we have accepted the Gospel and live a new life in Christ. The fact is, however, even in my redeemed state, there are times I live just like a lost person — I stop searching.
Psalm 10:4 says, “The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts.” We read this verse and see the enemies of the Lord. But if I honestly take a look within, I can also see myself. My pride keeps me from seeking God, from falling on His grace and dwelling in dependence of Him. Rather than living protected in His peace, I leave myself vulnerable to the attacks of Satan when I do not humble myself before God.
I’ve shared countless times on this little blog: Jesus is the reward. Oh, but how many times has my heart been pulled away from Him as I search for peace, purpose, and significance coming from another source. In pride, I look at my lost friend and think, “I’m so glad I’m not like her” as any good old Pharisee would do. When God grabs my heart and stirs me towards humility, I see my state is desperate, too.
Her search will, prayerfully, one day end in Jesus. My search every day ends in Jesus. In my redeemed state, may I continually seek the reward of a intimacy with Christ. He is treasure worth seeking, His value immeasurable. I want to live every day lathering myself in His riches while greedily scooping up more.
But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and thatHe is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
I “make” God big in my life when I continue searching to know His heart. I can trust He will bring me towards Himself and reward me with His richest blessings.
Do you continue to seek God each day of your life?