I had a big burden on my heart and a corresponding prayer request. I had talked with God about this specific need over the course of a few years with no clear answer. I fought discouragement over not receiving this answer for the Lord, but I kept asking in faith that He would give me what I wanted. But then I realized something — my faith was misplaced.
My faith was that the Lord’s will would align with my desires, but this is not what the Bible teaches. John 15:7 says, “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.” That sure sounds wonderful doesn’t it? We can have whatever we ask! But what we fail to notice is there’s a condition with that promise.
If I want my prayers to be heard and answered by God, I must be spending time with Him growing in my love and knowledge of Him. Something interesting happens when I commit myself to this — my desires and requests begin to align with His will. As my desires more closely mirror His, I am basically asking in faith that He will do what He already wants to do!
I surrendered that need to God. Instead of asking for the natural desires that looked like that of any other worldly gal’s, I asked Him to work in my life. I asked Him to change me and all my desires. I said God, “You know I want this thing, but I am trusting You to do your will. Give me the strength I need to accept your answer. I pray above all that your name will be lifted high.”
For the first time regarding this situation, I was in a state of total peace. I remain here, still asking. Still trusting. Hoping each day I get closer to asking for His will instead of what I want.
What desire do you need to surrender to God as you commit yourself to knowing Him?
I shared yesterday about my identity crisis of sorts which occurred after my son began to attend pre-school. I suddenly found myself with time on my hands — which we know for a mom of young children is a strange feeling! While I’ve always preferred to be out and about or spending time with people, I found that a lot of my time was spent alone. I do have a sweet lady that comes to help me complete the never ending task of cleaning a home in a dusty country, but other than encounters with her and neighbors on my morning and afternoon walks, I had little interaction. More dangerously, I had little accountability.
No one knew how I was spending my day. No one would know what is happening behind closed doors. Thankfully, I had managed to cultivate my devotional and housework habits while my little ones were still home all day. I just found I got them done a lot faster now! I did love to linger in my Bible reading and sip my coffee in peace. But what would I do with the two or three remaining hours before I would go get my son?
A new “to-do”
I created a new sort of to-do list to keep my thoughts and plans ordered. It only listed these things: read, write, rest, create, connect, care. I plan to do another post on exactly what each of these entails, but it kept me mainly focused on being in the word and keeping busy while also making time to take care of my body and practice hospitality. Otherwise, I know I would have had a daily date with Netflix. We actually canceled our subscription months ago. Each thing didn’t get accomplished every day, but my list kept me on task until my house filled up again in the afternoon. It also kept me available for my husband and children should they need me during the day. I wasn’t nailed down to some big plan every day, just a few little things that could be squeezed in here or there or rolled into the next day’s list if necessary.
Aside from the to-do list, there are questions I need to ask myself about what happens behind closed doors:
Is who I am in private who I am in public? Or what I would want people to perceive me to be?
Am I spending my time in idleness (looking at you, Instagram) or in a way that honors Christ?
Would I be comfortable with someone I am discipling seeing who I am behind closed doors — or looking at my internet history or mirroring my TV screen?
Does my alone time indulge my desires or lift up the needs of others?
As I ask myself these questions I keep Scriptures like this one in mind,
Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.
1 Corinthians 4:5
Time to grow
No one will probably praise me for staying home a few days of the week, but I know this is my training ground. I shared with you that my prayer is for my schedule to fill up with opportunities for discipleship and ministry. This does not mean that I should wander through this time aimlessly, but rather spend it intentionally. I should be seeking God and growing in my knowledge of Him. As I grow in the Word, I grow in my ability to lead others. I know the Lord will use this time in my life for the rest of my life and ministry.
We started our son in pre-school just before he turned three years old. While I don’t feel a compulsion to explain myself to the internet world, I believe we had valid reasons for sending him. The reasons were based mainly on culture and our desire for him to have time with other children — something he was not getting at church or around the neighborhood. In the long run, I’ve seen that it has been so good for him. There are days the mommy guilt creeps back in when I compare myself to some rockstar homeschool mom, but I recognize that God guides us to lead our families in different ways all for His glory.
I suffered an identity crisis when my kids were gone for several hours a day. I didn’t know how to fill my time. I was restless yet idle much of the time. I was wrecked by the insignificance of my existence and resented that no one needed me most of the waking hours of the day — which is funny because I had moments of resentment about being constantly needed in the newborn years. The heart is so fickle.
In the last year, God has done a work in my heart to train me to embrace the smallness of my life. I’ve learned to trust Him in every aspect and to use me in little ways as I seek to serve Him with the time He gives me each day. He has used the empty hours to make me fall in love with Him more than ever and revel in the life He has given me. While I could never present an exhaustive list which ensures this outcome, I do believe there are a few things we can do to truly embrace the unique lives and callings God gives each one of us.
Realizing that that my longing for something that God had not granted me was a straight up sin was a big deal for me. I also had to take a hard look at myself and see that many of my ambitions were not God-given but were purely self-motivated. Recognizing the sin, I must repent over and over as I stumble each day. Moving forward, I must make choices that reflect heart change by the Spirit’s hand.
Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, (Hebrews 12:1).
This is the anecdote for many of my problems. I must learn to be truly grateful for the opportunities and graces God gives to me. Every good thing comes from Him. I will see that He has done great things in my life if I pause to give thanks for each one of them. Even the trials of life or daily disappointments come from His hand, and I can trust He will use it for my good according to His infinite wisdom.
In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
Say “No” to Self
I must surrender my dreams and desires each day to the Lord. I have to decide day by day to trust Him with my collection of concerns and cares. Dying to self, I make way for the Lord to work through me without interference from me. This is the “return” of the repentance. I turn from my sin of selfishness, eyes on Jesus all the way.
But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you (Matthew 6:33).
One of my favorite Scriptures is Psalm 37:4 which admonishes believers to delight in the Lord. The promise attached is that He will give you the desires of your heart. I’ve come to understand over time, however, that this doesn’t mean He gives me everything I want. As I delight in my relationship with Him, loving and learning more of Him, He changes me. He changes my desires to mirror His and accomplishes His will in my life. One of the greatest purposes and privileges of a child of God is to know and enjoy the Savior. When my focus is on loving Jesus, service is an outflow of my full heart for Him.
Thou wilt shew me the path of life: In thy presence is fulness of joy; At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore (Psalm 16:11).
I “make” God big when I embrace the small role He gives me to play in this big world and just enjoy being His.
We were knee-deep in language study and had learned by now what “culture shock” really means. We had been through crisis after crisis in our first few months on the field including (but not limited to) two major earthquakes and countless aftershocks, a landslide at our home, gas and power shortages, and a terrifying accident involving our daughter. We had seen God move in amazing ways and had found Him only to be a source of comfort and hope. Yet, chatting in the car one day after language school, one nagging thought was spoken out loud. “I can’t imagine living through another year of this before we go back to America.”
As much as our hearts were here, looking ahead everything just seemed impossible and heavy. I was relieved my husband had expressed the same sentiment because, to be honest, I was feeling completely guilty over having such thoughts. The Lord blessed us over that remaining year and gave us a great visit back that recharged our hearts. Truthfully, though, we could have done more time and would have survived — even thrived — because of one vital truth.
And the Lord, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed. Deut. 31:8-9
The same words that Moses spoke over the hearts of God’s chosen people before they walked into a dark valley are the same words that bring us comfort when walking into uncertain times. When I look into the future, I can become discouraged and think there’s just no way I can walk through that. God has preserved these words of comfort for us because the truths about our Comforter have not changed in all these years.
Comfort for the future
He will go before me, making a way for me to live and prosper in His peace. He will not fail me or forsake me. EVER. He will provide all I need to live for His glory.
Comfort for today
He will be with me today. Truly His presence is the only provision I need for this day and every day.
As I look too far into the future and sense that familiar panic begin to percolate, I can rest knowing His provision and presence are enough to get me from today until eternity. When I control my mind by the Spirit’s power to fret not about tomorrow but focus on God’s calming presence today, wild thoughts are reined in. God’s command to refrain from fear is not impossible because with God ALL THINGS are possible.
We have a couple years left until our “break,” but this time around, I’m not really counting. I’ve learned that His grace is sufficient for today and all the days I have left.
I “make” God big in my life when I comfort myself with the truth of His word and when I rest in His presence with me every day.
How has God’s presence calmed you during difficult times?
“Why” is a question I find myself answering a lot. My kids often ask why we can’t just hop over to America and visit with our grandparents. Taxi drivers and shopkeepers inquire about why we would live in this country when many of them would give anything to live in America. Others, disapprovingly ask why we are trying to change the culture of this beautiful country. When the smallness of my life seems to contrast with what might be if I lived and served on the other side of the world, I ask myself why we put ourselves through all that we do.
The following is from a post I wrote earlier this year, and it’s worth reminding myself all these months later.
I agreed to serve Jesus because He gave His all for me, and I am compelled to do all I can to magnify His great love.
I agreed to work alongside my husband as we cross-cultures to share Christ because I trust him completely and believe in him wholeheartedly.
I agreed to learn a language and culture because there are millions of people that haven’t heard the Gospel in their heart language, and I may have the opportunity to change that — even if only for a few.
I agreed to raise my children away from the comforts of our home and our family because Jesus is worthy, and I want them to know that more than any other lesson I could teach them.
Jesus is worthy. Because of that I will agree to keep serving Him every day of this little life He gives me. I trust that one day — whether here or in heaven — the impact of that decision will far exceed my expectations. I’ll see our BIG God was at work in amazing ways in my little life. All because I agreed to all the little things He asked me to do. It all seems like small potatoes compared to what he’s done for me.
I “make” God big in my little life when I combat the frailty of my heart with God’s truth. I remind myself that the life He has called me to is worth agreeing to while I trust Him to work His way in it.
What is your “WHY” that keeps you following Jesus?