Faithfulness to Feed despite Fear of Rejection [day 18: share]

Yesterday, for the very first time, our daughter tried the traditional meal of Nepal, dal bhat which is made up of a lentil soup and rice. It was a big deal because this day has been coming for 2 and 1/2 years! We hooped and hollered and promised her a trip today to go buy some new movies. How many times had a plate of dal bhat been offered to her? Countless times! Her school serves it every day. We always thought peer pressure would be enough to get her to eat it, but after nearly a week of her refusal to eat, her teacher called to request we start packing her lunch.

She’s always been a picky eater — so much so that I wondered if we would ever have peace at our dining table. Per the suggestion of the pediatrician we consulted with, we kept serving her the same food we were eating with one thing on her plate we knew she liked. Whether she refused or dug in was up to her, and we were not to pressure her lest we give her anxiety about mealtimes. We just kept putting the plate in front of her.

So often, I feel a similar struggle in efforts to share Christ with friends and neighbors. Yesterday, I confessed that fear of saying the wrong thing keeps me from sharing the gospel and living as a bold witness for Christ. Another thing that has hindered this work of God in the past is the fear of my message being rejected. “What if they get mad? What if they think — or worse, say — I’m rude and should have kept my big mouth shut?” ‘What if’ is so rarely a good starting point in my thought life.

In the moment, it feels like the worst thing that could happen. And it is absolutely heartbreaking to hear someone reject the work of Christ– especially so if it be someone you love. I have found comfort knowing that it is only my responsibility to present the message in a palatable form. It is God who works in hearts to change lives with the truth of the Gospel.

When I celebrate small, I celebrate the share. I recognize my inability to force my faith upon someone — as I’ve learned with my small children—  and I lean hard on the Lord who declares His desire to win all people into His family. I don’t know who will come along and water the seed I’ve planted with simple words. I don’t know what lies beneath hard exteriors and harsh words. I can’t foresee how a friendship may flourish and what further opportunities He may give to continue to communicate the truths of the Gospel.

Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase. Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour. For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building (1 Cor. 3:5-9).

Like daddy and I are on the same team teaching little people what nourishes their bodies, we are laborers together with God in reaching the world with the Gospel message. We are afforded the amazing opportunity to work alongside the master of the universe to accomplish His will — though we know Who does the heavy lifting. In His glorious grace, He allows us to reap the rewards. We aren’t promised immediate yeses and full embrace of the Gospel when we step out in faith to share Jesus, but we are promised He will be with us. Truly, His presence trumps positive outcomes.

We can positively praise when the Gospel is presented, — not only when it is received. Faithfulness is to practice hospitality in presenting plates loaded with the good stuff of the message. Acceptance or refusal is on the receiver, and we rejoice that the message has been heard. We nourish our relationships by fully sharing our lives with those we love and live with. Sharing Jesus should be a natural outflow of that life sharing. We must only be faithful to keep showing up and placing the plate before them trusting that one day, “Yuck” will turn into “Yum” as they savor the sweetness of what the Savior has done. Our earnest prayer is that they will “Taste and see the Lord is good” as we do each day.

How can you share Jesus in a palatable form today?

Talk to me in the comment section below!

 

 

It’s OK to Grow as You Go [day 17: grow]

I have fond memories of playing in the park while my brother was on the baseball diamond as a child. There was flower picking, gravel scooping, and begging mom for slushies. It was the magic childhood is made of — at least, that’s what it seems like looking back. Little friends would chat, and sometimes we would get past “what’s your name?” and “what is your favorite color?” No one had ever told me not to talk to other kids about Jesus, so I asked my playmates if they were saved like they had any idea what that meant. I barely did. I just had Jesus in my heart, and everything on my heart came out eventually.

As I got older, fear of not presenting Jesus perfectly or having something in my life that would block the effectual working of the Gospel kept me from exhibiting this type of boldness. I knew I didn’t know everything, and I thought, “If I share my faith, someone is going to ask me a question I can’t answer.” So I just didn’t. I started to hear things like, “Preach the gospel, and if necessary, use words.” I began to think it was OK, as long as I didn’t live like the lost, to keep my mouth shut about the greatest gift ever given to me. I’ve come to find out I was wrong. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God (Romans 10:17).

I needed someone to tell me, “It’s OK to grow as you go.” I needed permission to share my faith without an undergrad in apologetics. I wish someone would have encouraged me to live faithfully as a Christian witness, speaking the truth in love while humbly admitting when I made mistakes. I would have benefited from a reminder that fear is a tool of the enemy which keeps me from fulfilling the will of God laid out in the Great Commission. Maybe someone did tell me, and I just wasn’t listening.

But now I know — when I celebrate small, I thank God that I don’t have all the answers. I find joy in the fact that I will never know everything about Him or truly understand the scale of what Has he has done for me. I relish each opportunity to share Him, and I trust Him to do a good work in spite of me. If I wait to live missionally until I’ve achieved spiritual giant status, I will miss out on great things God wants to do through my life. As I celebrate small, I praise Him for the understanding He gives along the way, and I trust He will polish my witness in his power while covering my flaws in His blood.

I think back and wonder how things would have been different had someone given me permission to be imperfect. I trust God was working even in my silence, but I think I think I’ll speak up from now on. I may have to pretend I’m still the brave little girl picking dandelions and spilling my heart to anyone who would listen.

What keeps you from living missionally?

Talk to me in the comment section below!

 

 

See Yourself in Stories of Missional Living[day 16: read]

I love a good missionary biography and not just because I am a missionary myself. I liked them way back in the day before I met Jesus and surrendered to serve Him with my life. There was always something exciting and adventurous to me about tales of faraway places, foreign tongues, and run-ins with all types of creeping things. I kind of glossed over the parts about God’s sanctifying and redemptive work because I didn’t have spiritual eyes to see the wonder of these things yet.

Now that I am on the mission field, I am less wowed by the things that used to blow my pre-adolescent mind. In fact, today I had a stray cat run into my house and made eye-contact with a gecko who had made a home in the box of Cheerios atop the fridge. I spoke my second language imperfectly all day and spent time with a new friend. This place is now my home and doesn’t seem exotic or as foreign as it once did. Life here is just that now — life.

I read stories of missionaries a bit differently now. I see myself in their tales — in dreams that turn out differently and hearts that experience major overhaul at the hand of the Holy Spirit. I walk with them through true faith crises brought about by cultural clashes and coming face to face with all kinds of spiritual darkness. I feel solidarity with people who fight to love Jesus in a world that hates Him.

I don’t see superheroes like some of you may think of when you consider those who have answered the call to missions. They’re just people struggling to love their families, figure out communication and a new way of living, and take opportunities to tell the old story. I glimpse a gracious God who grants the heart’s deepest desires and allows His servants to celebrate small successes in ministry, never knowing the scope of what He has done through their measly offerings.

Missional living isn’t about where we are; it’s about who we serve. It’s not even about who we are but what God is able to do despite our imperfections. It is a willingness to say “I can’t, but He can” and take the small steps of faith to follow Him into hard places and love people who may be difficult to love. It’s about sinners that have been saved and given a great job to do.

When we celebrate small, we see what a great privilege it is to live missionally for the Savior. We praise Him for each opportunity He gives to speak of His goodness and each trial that brings us into a more intimate relationship with Him. We find mission fields in our front yards and in the car pick-up at our children’s schools and say “yes” where we are and to who God puts in our lives. We run the race and tire, but we are carried. We fail but, we are forgiven.

A life changed in Nepal. God is faithful.

I challenge you to read stories of what God has done and is doing around the world. I hope you will read them with fresh eyes. Ditch the notion that those living missionally are super special people. Missionaries are just like you — they are super-loved by God. They make tons of mistakes, but they celebrate big when God gives small victories in their lives and ministries. I urge you to see yourself in their stories.

Consider your own biography of missional living. What has God called upon you to say “yes” to? Who has he put in your life to minister to and to share of His goodness? How has God used you already? What big, missional dreams has He placed in your heart for the future? What is He at work redeeming in your life now? How do you sense His mighty hand at work in your life?

You can have your own thrilling adventure in missional living when you choose to celebrate small and trust God will use it to bring about big. Read some missionary biographies and you’ll see — He’s quite good at that.

How are you living missionally?

Talk to me in the comment section below!

 

 

A Fruit-Bearing Formula for Moms [day 15: remain]

Motherhood is soul-wrenching and energy-draining, but it is simultaneously joy-inspiring and life-giving. We moms dream big dreams for our children, and we want them to have all the best things of the world and none of the hurt. We want them to invite Christ into their life the moment they reach any semblance of maturity. We feel so much pressure to be perfect. At the heart of it all is one thing — for me anyways. We want our work to matter. Not because we want to be appreciated or respected — though that might be nice! — but that we want the seeds we sow to take deep root in our children’s lives. We want all our mistakes to fall away, covered by the blood of Jesus. But we want those stinking seeds we put everything we had into planting to do something!

Sleepless nights, stomachs tied up in knots, and tears shed behind locked bathroom doors. Dealing with developing children is heart work and heart work is hard work. We want to train our children “in the way they should go” so when they grow up they will continue in that way (Proverbs 22:6). We till the ground and we plant seeds. God gives the increase, bearing fruit in our children’s lives. We want to see it remain.

Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you. (John 15:16-17).

The formula for achieving this desirable result is presented in the rest of the chapter, and it is surprisingly simple. 

1. Abide in the love of Christ
2. Love others
3. Ask for fruit according to His will

 

Abide

We delight ourselves in Christ, and He gives us the desires of our hearts (Psalm 37:4) The desires of our heart are not the fruit, however. The desires of our heart are the big dreams He changes to match His own. We begin to dream according to His will. We begin to beg that the Lord would do the heart work and relieve us from the pressure of perfect performance. Dependent on Him, we draw closer to Him. Sure of our standing with Him, we are free to love our children with mama bear abandon.

Love

I love this article which points out that our children are our neighbors. We are to be kind and loving even when our children fall short of our expectations of them. Even when their dreams are small and short-sighted in comparison to what we believe the Lord would want for them. We are to love them like Jesus loves them — sin, snot and all.

Ask

Abiding in Christ, desires aligned with His, we beg for the fruit only He can bring forth in our children’s lives. He wants to accomplish good work in their hearts. He wishes that our heart work would remain. He desires to grant us the desires of our hearts. Ultimately, He will work His will for our good and His glory though it may not match our picturesque plan or fantastical fantasy. We can be sure His ways are true though this may be beyond our comprehension this side of heaven.

Remain

In this heart work, we can remember that we moms are truly never alone. Our Father is there on the sleepless nights, when our stomachs are tied up, and when we lock ourselves in the bathroom. He has promised to never leave or forsake us even in these soul-wrenching, life-draining days. So, we celebrate small. We hang on to those joy-inspiring, life-giving moments, and we cling to Jesus. Because, not only will He give us fruit that remains, but He will also sustain us for the heart work of raising children so we also may remain. These precious children need us.

What do you think of this formula?

Talk to me in the comment section below!

 

 

Tales of A Trying Mom [day 14: try]

“I’m trying my best, you guys! Give mommy a break!” I’m not so proud to say I’ve uttered these words in sheer exasperation at my kids who were more than likely begging for their third snack before 8 a.m. at the time. I think I get more exercise running around the house in the morning than I do in my 20-minute cardio bursts!

At my best, I’m just trying to be a good mom — my definition of which changes daily, setting a standard I can never catch up with. At my worst, I am just trying to make it to bedtime when I can catch my breath and turn something on the TV I can actually wrap my head around. It is exhausting evaluating my efforts. What would be “good enough?”

I feel the pressure of big dreams for my kids. It is compounded by news articles stating preferable bedtimes and screentime limits lest my children’s brains melt — or worse! On top of just keeping them clothed and attitudes in check, I have to worry about whether they snatched something out of the cupboard containing high-fructose corn syrup. At every perceived failure I think, “I’m a bad mom.”

Is that true? Is it lovely and good? Is it something profitable for me to dwell upon (Philippians 4:8)? Or does it just make me hold up on the couch behind a pillow barrier and throw Cheetos across the room to my kids while I wallow in my inadequacy? Thinking I’m a bad mom does not make me a better mom. Shame is a lousy agent of change.

When I celebrate small, I see myself for what I am — a trying mom. I’m flawed and imperfect, but I am endued with power from on High. I have the Holy Spirit living and working inside of me, and I am wholly loved and accepted just as I am. When I celebrate small, I praise God for His mercy when I try and fail, and I praise Him for His grace to allow me to see any fruit from my labor. I am grateful for the desire He puts within me to glorify God in motherhood and to train my children to love and live for Him.

When I truly drop the ball, I first go to my heavenly Father for forgiveness and then to my children. I’ll tell them how I love them and dream the biggest dreams for them. I’ll point out God’s kindness to me in allowing me to be their mother despite all my imperfections. And I’ll assure them we can confidently put our trust in Jesus because He never will fail us. I’ll look into their wet eyes which are probably royally confused at this point and tell them I will never be a perfect mom, but I will always be a trying mom. As long as I’m trying to point them to Jesus and magnify Him in my life, that will be good enough.

Does your evaluation of your role as a mother need to change?

Talk to me in the comment section below!