Whose I am is What Matters Most [Day 19: WHO]

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?

Galatians 4:4-9

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?

Talk to me in the comment section below!

Never Stop Searching [Day 18: SEARCH]

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.

Photo by Ran Berkovich on Unsplash

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 that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

Hebrews 11:6

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?

Talk to me in the comment section below!

Waiting Well when God Pauses My Plans [Day 17: PAUSE]

“How’s it looking at the camp?” I ask my husband again after visiting the property.

“Same old, same old.” Still no change.

God gave us a dream to start a camp, and then he provided the money to buy property and begin building a building on it. The process started a few years ago, and we really thought the first phase would be done by now. Various holdups and letdowns have occurred along the way. We were always told things would speed up after rainy season or after we got some sort of approval. Rainy season came and went without much progress and rejections came more frequently than approvals. It seems God has paused our plans on-and-off over the years — and even completely demolished them when we were denied visas to the country we planned to minister in for the rest of our lives.

Even in the day-to-day, things happen that put a hold on my plans. In the last several months, I’ve had one minor health problem after another that required many visits to the hospital and a surgery. But even more annoying than that, it required a lot of waiting. My plans and desires were put on hold while I had to sort out these mild but persisting medical issues.

It’s frustrating and brings out the worst in me — impatience, anger, and the like. Waiting isn’t something many people do well, and unfortunately, I am no exception. He’s still working on me, building my faith and showing me truly where my hope belongs. The waiting is where I find Him leading me into a deeper intimacy with Him. I want to honor this gracious gift He gives me by waiting well.

Two Ways I can Wait Well
  • I can wait well by training my eyes to look upward by worshiping Christ and dwelling on His goodness. God can use the seemingly stagnant times of my life to cause me to fall more even love with Him. I can know Him more and worship Him for everything about Him. Everything I know about Him tells me He won’t keep me waiting forever, and as long as I wait He will be with me.
  • I can wait well by training my eyes to look outward as I seek opportunities to minister to others. In the waiting, it is easy to sulk in self-pity or self-indulgence as I feel sorry for myself. However, God can use the pain of waiting to soften my heart to others if I allow Him. I can be more sensitive to the needs of others and apply myself to meeting them in any way I am able — even in the waiting.

I can honor the Lord in my times of waiting. The camp may take 5 more years and I may spend countless hours in our local hospital, but by His grace, I can wait well.

I “make” God big in my life when I honor Him by looking upward and outward in times of waiting.

Has God brought you into a season of waiting?

Talk to me in the comment section below!

 

 

All I can Do is Pray [Day 16: PRAY]

I was lying on an operating table in a foreign hospital. I had just been escorted through the OR and was horrified to see all the doors open and various procedures happening before my eyes. What I am now told was iodine stains splattered on the floor looked like blood to the untrained eye, and all the unconscious people just looked dead. Yeah, I was freaking out! I knew it was a simple procedure that was about to happen, but my mind went into anxiety over-drive anyway.

In that moment, all I could do was pray. I asked God to be with me and to calm my crazy thoughts. And then, I fell asleep. I woke up on the other side, alone in a recovery room and in a total panic. I had been intubated during my surgery, and my throat was raw and sore. No one had warned me about that. Again, I found myself praying because I was helpless to do anything else.

I think back on one our first Saturdays at church here when the devastating earthquake of 2015 hit. We were at church and followed the frenzied crowd as far as we could. We ended up huddled in a bathroom doorway with other national believers. We wrapped our arms around each other and did the only thing we could do — pray.

Photo by Ruben Hutabarat on Unsplash

In these scenarios, we were completely helpless to do anything to relieve the terror of the circumstances at hand. We had no control over the outcome and did not even have the option to run away! When we feel helpless, we do the only thing we can do. In daily life, though, prayer is not my most and first-utilized tool. How often do I let my worries run wild, consult with Google, tell a friend or vent in my journal before I hand it all over to God? I’m sorry to say this is often the case.

I buy the lie that I am in control of the day-to-day. That God is not interested and will not intervene in my life and its minuscule concerns. So, I try to manage it all on my own — without prayer. The reality is, my helplessness serves me. My helplessness causes me to cry out to God. The circumstances that cause me to feel helpless are exactly what I need. It’s just a shame I forget so easily.

I need to be needy. Every day, I need to realize my utter helplessness without God. And every day, I must put all my anxieties in His hands admitting my complete inability to control the circumstances of my life. I surrender and submit to His infinite wisdom in prayer. These “I need you” prayers need to happy every day even as I rise.

I need the peace only God can provide when I’m lying in my warm bed just as much as when I’m lying on an operating table. I need His provision just as much today as the infamous day of the earthquake. I just need Him, and I plan to tell Him that.

I “make” God big in my life when I daily come to Him in prayer admitting my dependence on Him for each day.

Have you admitted your need of God in prayer today?

Talk to me in the comment section below!

The Most Comforting Words [Day 8: COMFORT]

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.”

Photo by Kelly Rockhold Photography

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?

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