The Perks of Serving a Living God [Day 30: VOICE]

The nights and mornings have turned cold. We’ve retired our ceiling fan for the season, but we let a little stand fan run pointed at a wall that it may drown out the sounds of barking dogs. Our headboard lies against a large single-paned window. Across our driveway and outside our gate lies a small Hindu temple. The bells starting ringing a few minutes before 5 a.m. each morning. The ceiling fan drowned it out all summer so its significance feels new to me as the peals break the through the crisp morning air and past my unfortunately thin window panes. These attempts to wake sleeping gods and gain favor or riches are all vain — they only wake up light sleepers like me. Each time I hear the bells ring, I have an opportunity to pray that the souls that stoop before idols would one day bow before the living God.

I also have an opportunity to express thankfulness for our living God. I don’t have to ring bells or blow into seashells to get God’s attention. His eyes are ever watching me, and the Holy Spirit is deciphering every sigh of my heart in communication with the Father. He is actively seeking me, vying to capture my heart and drawing me into intimacy with Him. Not a moment of my little life goes unseen by Him and not a detail of my days are missed. In contrast with the idolatry I witness every day, I appreciate the vastness of this gift.

But not only does He hear and see me — He speaks to me. God invites me into community through the local church and speaks to a gathered body through the exposition of His word. Beyond that, every time I open my Bible I can hear His voice. The words held within have been preserved for me. As I give my attention to its truths, the Holy Spirit works within me to grant understanding and truly help me hear the voice of God.

As my daily duties pull me away from corporate worship and quiet time, I can still hear the voice of God. I can speak with Him when I am folding laundry or walking to the fruit shop, and I can expect to hear from Him as I do. The Spirit brings discovered truths from communal worship and personal Bible study and plants it as new on my heart.

I’ll never forget that when we lost our son Ezra, and I couldn’t bring myself to open my Bible that God still spoke to me. I daily heard His voice even though though words from the pulpit were drowned out by louder voices of grief and guilt. The Spirit brought years of Sunday school lessons and simple learned truths before me every single day of that grieving period. He heard my unintelligible groans, and I heard His loving assurance each and every day.

At the same time my heart breaks for those just outside my gate who have no such experience, I am thankful that I have been introduced to a God who hears me, sees me, and speaks to me every moment of every day.

I “make” God big in my life when I remain thankful for His care in my life and remain perceptive to His voice as He exercises authority in it. 

What is sweetest to you about serving a living God?

Talk to me in the comment section below!

 

Serving God Together [Day 29: TOGETHER]

I’ve mentioned earlier in this series that God has not granted us a ministry full of women for me to work with. In fact, this past Saturday we had a great attendance, but of the 45 people that showed up for service 2 were little girls and 3 were women. I guess I had these expectations because we had been told so many times that most often in overseas ministry, women are the ones who are faithful to church. In our little church plant, we have not found that to be true. I praise God for all the men God has brought into our ministry and for the young guys my husband is able to train — but where are all the women at?!?

Envy

I see other ladies in ministry who don’t have to look too far to find young women to work with in ministry. Selfies of coffee and open Bibles as they study together make me self-conscious of my lack-luster ladies’ ministry. I am about to finish discipleship lessons with the young lady I have been working with, and we are looking for someone else to study with. One girl we talked to said she has no interest in studying the Bible. The other mysteriously stopped answering my calls. I plan to continue working with this girl. She has grown so much, but I still long to see our influence grow as we grow together in the word of God. I know it will happen some day, but while I’m waiting it is hard to “stay in my lane” and not doubt what God will do.

Encouragement

Rather than envy my sisters in ministry that have at hand what I long for, I can rejoice with them in what God is doing and encourage them in faithfulness. The Bible teaches that we are one body in Christ (Romans 12:4). We all have our specific service to do and our parts to play in the great work of God. While my piece of the puzzle may feel small when held up against what another holds, the truth is it really is all in His hands.

Photo by Vonecia Carswell on Unsplash
Perspective

God calls me to faithfulness with what I’ve been given right now — no matter whether it fits my idea of all it should be. As I remain faithful with what I’m given and cheer on my sisters in their respective ministries, we can all rejoice together in the mysterious work of God. What a wonder that He uses each one of us in our little corners of the world and our small spheres of influence to accomplish His mission in the world!

God gives different gifts. He grants unique graces to each one of us. He gives some thriving ministries and others fledgling flocks that need constant tending. But He gives all of us Himself, and in Him we have relationship with one another. May I always be found faithful in my little work while encouraging my fellow kingdom workers in their own service to Him.

Eternal joy

We can rejoice together right now in what we see God doing. but just think of all we can praise God for when we reach our eternal home. We will see all the pieces of the puzzle perfectly pieced together and praise Him together forevermore.

I “make” God big in my life when I remain faithful in the work He he has given me to do while also supporting and encouraging my brothers and sisters in Christ in their service to the Lord. 

How can you encouraging a brother or sister in their ministry today?

Talk to me in the comment section below!

There Really Were Songs Yet to Sing [Day 28: SONG]

My dad wrote me a poem called Still Yet Songs to Sing when we lost our second child, Ezra Coleman to miscarriage late in my pregnancy in 2013. It was such a sweet gesture and encouragement to me. It showed a father’s heart moved with grief for daughter’s pain, and I know it mirrored my heavenly Father’s heart in that way.

I was so broken at that time, completely wrecked with this great loss. I hadn’t asked for a second child, yet God granted me the precious gift of life far earlier than we would have planned. We welcomed the gift and spent those 5 months planning and dreaming for our little one. It was a dark year as we reeled from the sudden tragedy, and during that year, we had to continue traveling around the US raising support for our future ministry. I sobbed in many a church bathroom and pasted a smile on when someone asked how many children I had and I replied that I only had one. A few times, a well-meaning soul would say, “She needs a little brother!” And I would think, “She had one, ” or “We tried to give her one.”

There really were still yet songs to sing. There were still ways we were gonna get up and work for the Lord just how we dreamed we would, but we had to walk through that dark valley first. What’s funny about these types of thorns in the flesh is that they can be so healing if we are submissive to the Father’s hand at work to bring restoration. I could barely stand up on my own two feet so I had no other choice than to lean on Christ. That time of immense pain shaped me into the wife, mom, and lady in ministry that I am today. At the time I think I said I was grateful, but I wasn’t quite feeling it yet. I’m feeling it now.

Sometimes God allows great pain to enter into our lives. Knowing that death and loss were not a part of His perfect plan from the beginning, we know He does not delight in doing this. However, because of His display of love on the Cross and His daily graces in our lives, we can trust He will work all things — even the hardest things — for our good when we come out on the other side.

And we will… come out on the other side. Even though it feels like we’ll never make it there. We will come out grateful. We will come out singing, praising God for all He has done. Broken but healing hearts crying out, “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

I’m singing now and, by His grace, I am serving Him on the other side of the world. We have two precious children now and are perfectly content with the life we have been given. But we will never forget that little boy we held for just a few moments. His memory will forever impact the songs I sing and the way I fall into the Father’s arms — because Ezra taught me how.

I “make” God big in my life when I accept hurt from His hand and trust Him to heal me. Knowing He will give me songs to sing, I can walk first through the dark valley as He guides me to the other side.

What trials has God brought you out of to sing His praise?

Talk to me in the comment section below!

My Whole Life is a Song of Worship [Day 27: WHOLE]

I tend to see my life in fractured segments — one part mommy, one part wife, one part Sunday school teacher, church-planter’s wife, etc. All these roles come with different tasks and I am defined by those tasks at the time I am doing them. It’s tough for me to see my life in Christ as one whole offering to God, but that’s the way He sees it. The truth is, He already owns every part of me and gives me each work I get to do for Him.

I want my whole life to be a song of worship to Jesus. Whether I am reading the 12th book in a row to my toddler or teaching Bible truths to a roomful of rowdy kids, I want my heart to be completely in tune to the will of God in my life. I desire for my marriage to be sweet and loving — the kind that shows the love of Christ to a world suffering from the consequences of selfish sins. I long for my testimony as a mother to be that of one gently leading her family and teaching Christ’s ways from a patient and pure heart (long way to go on this one, I know!). I want my efforts in ministry to be characterized by single-minded devotion to Christ and a true heart to make him known.

There aren’t just bits and pieces of my life that are sacred and the other inconsequential. God is with me in every moment and calls me to honor Him in each seemingly insignificant segment of my life. This is why He tells me in His word how to live as a wife, mother, friend, and child of God. I am instructed to both care for my home and for the widows and orphans. I’m taught how to handle my money and treat people ranging from my enemies to my authority in the workplace. There are few issues of life the Bible does not address, and the general wisdom we find in its pages can be applied to those. Moreover, God gives His followers guidance and discretion through the Holy Spirit. He does not leave us guessing how to live.

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1 Corinthians 10:31-33 gives instruction about eating and drinking but also gives further instruction on how to live our whole lives.

Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God: Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.

My whole life should be an offering to God. Whatever I find to do, I should do it like I’m doing it directly to the Lord — because I am according to Colossians 3:23. I don’t seek first to please men, but I seek to honor God by blessing others and not giving cause to blaspheme the name of Christ. I resist the urge to serve myself in all that I do because a follower of Jesus is set apart for something better. Serving Christ and serving others with my whole life. I don’t have to wonder what God wants from me. This is it.

I’m so pleased I can honor God while drinking my coffee and eating a donut on Sunday morning while my kids buzz around me.  Loving Him and dwelling on His goodness is something I can do in my pajamas. That’s something I can get on board with!

I “make” God big in my life when I choose to see my entire life as an offering to Him. I trust Him to use even the smallest bits of my life to bring glory to His great name.

In what ways can you serve Christ with your WHOLE life?

Talk to me in the comment section below!

Faithfulness in Little Things *Revisited* [Day 21: START]

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.

Photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash
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 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.