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Choices Comfort Correction Covid19 Feeding Missions Perspective What Did You Do

I Want In

I’m not an extrovert by any stretch of the imagination. By nature, I know those who know me may find this hard to believe, I prefer to sneak in and out unseen and unheard. It’s more comfortable, I’m happy to let others take the lead and simply follow. I’m happy to fade into the background…unless I see something that I have the power to help change. I hate to see people suffer, especially those who are helpless, and not do anything to help change their circumstances.

I have sometimes wished that this part of me would fade a bit into the background as it has, on occasion, brought me into the limelight, sometimes in very uncomfortable ways. Yet, no matter what I do, if I see someone hurting and I can do something to help, I want in. There have been times that this part of me has driven me to exhaustion. It has also driven me to great and seemingly impossible lengths to raise funds to bring meaningful change to this part of the world that we live in. It has driven me to sleepless nights as I work out in my mind what can be done when no one is doing anything. I want in, I want in.

I’ve also learned that while I am driven to help, it is Jesus who lives in me that is the One who brings help through His people. I’m unable to find solutions for everyone, but I am able to help someone. I should never use the excuse of a problem being too big for me to recline from what I should do for the one or the two that I can help.

The heaviness in my heart, and in the hearts of those working in this way, is simply a reflection of our Father’s heart for this world. It is through us, His servants, that He works and moves. It may be that the heaviness that those of us working for Him feel is also a reflection of how He feels when His people aren’t on the front lines bringing help to the helpless. It may be that part of the heaviness we feel is His own sorrow over our lack of involvement. He has given us everything, why have we at times closed our eyes or turned our backs thinking, “They should know better by now, they should do better by now, they should be better by now, I have my own needs to think of.”

Thank God someone reached out to me when I should have known better. Thank God someone reached out to me when I should have done better. Thank God someone reached out to me when I should have been better.

And still, through us, Jesus is saying, “I want in, I want in.”

As overwhelming as the needs are around us in this upside down world, we serve a God who desperately wants in so He can bring His power into the equation. So much depends on our “wanting in” to the will and plan of God. I’m all in, I want in.

Matthew 25:40 NKJ “And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’”

Categories
Choices Destiny Family

The Price Tag

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Coming into adulthood, like everyone else, I thought about my future, what I would do, where I would go, and what life would be like as the years went by. I had the usual dreams: to get married, have a couple of kids, have a job that I at least tolerated, and by the time my children grew up, I would be settled into the home where I would eventually retire.

Boy was I way off base! Life, as it has turned out, has been far from normal.

Competing for my attention together with my “normal” desires of what a regular family looks like were my desires to see God take me on an amazing adventure. In my high school years I became one of “those” Christians who dreamed big dreams about what God could do through me. I was very well aware of the fact that alone I didn’t amount to much but my relationship with the Lord was “front and center” of everything and my inabilities faded in the wonder of His great ability. I knew He could do and would do anything I dared to dream for Him.

As a senior in high school (in my time at least) the class would take what’s known as a “senior trip.” My sister’s class, for example, had taken a senior trip to Mexico two years prior to my senior year. The year my class went on a trip, we were to travel to Europe. Instead of anticipating going to Europe like a normal senior, I wasn’t interested – not in the least. I couldn’t explain it to anyone; I knew my parents would have found a way to pay for my way had I wanted to go. Perhaps they were silently relieved I wasn’t interested?

The youth group at our home church planned short-term missions a trip to Haiti at nearly the same time as the senior trip was to take place and I knew what I wanted to do instead of going to Europe. Instead of going on a normal senior trip that year, I took my first trip to a foreign country on a missions trip where I slept on a concrete floor with no mattress. I had a few blankets to make the floor as comfortable as possible, but they didn’t really help; yet I didn’t mind – my adventure had begun.

We toured the city of Port-au-Prince and a few outlying villages. It was hot. There were bugs. The food was different – and I found myself at home during those few days we spent in Haiti. As I stepped onto the plane returning home, I suspected that flight not going to be my last overseas.

That suspicion turned into reality and I soon found myself boarding plane after plane as a career missionary. This life has been far from the normal dreams that competed for my attention all those years ago as a young girl. Slowing down is not an option any time in my near future as the dream God has given my husband and I for the continent has just begun.

There are parts of this lifetime adventure that have cost a great deal, and I’m not talking about plane tickets (which are costly!). The cost of the adventure and being witness to what God has done in the past 30 years has been more of an emotional cost than a financial one. Paying this kind of price is an unpopular message in our day and age of building a “better” life than what our parents had. We always assume “doing better” means to have more: more money, a bigger house, better cars, and have more friends. I believe, however, that “doing better” means to do the will of God. What could be better than following the call of God no matter where it may lead – around the world or across the street? I pray my kids do better than I have done; I pray they follow God better than I have, that they see more of His power than I have for I know He is the Key to their success. He is the only One Who can keep them secure in this complicated world we find ourselves in.

Matthew 19:29 NKJAnd everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life.”

The price tag to living this adventure has been great but not nearly enough to compare to what He is worth: from separating from my own parents and way of life to learning multiple languages, living through war and rejection, to finally seeing my grown children leave the nest, have all brought me to my knees. The only way I have been able to navigate these demands has been to remain on my knees, never to stand up and fight for my “rights.” This service God has called me to deserves my best, my all, it is the very least I can do, whatever He asks.

Luke 17:10 NKJSo likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.’”

 

 

Categories
Beginnings Destiny Fasting Uncategorized

Day 17 – Beginnings

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We started with plans for 2 or 3 – those plans turned into 4. Photo taken 2009, they’ve grown since then! Clockwise from the top: Mandy, Steve, Andreya, and Tom
I remember when my husband and I were young newlyweds (seems it wasn’t THAT long ago) and we were in “discussions” over how many children we hoped to have. Initially, I wanted three children and he wanted two. In the end, neither of us had our way; we have ended up with four wonderful kids. We couldn’t imagine life without any of them. Now, 3 of the 4 have grown up and moved on, 2 are married, and we have 1 grandson – this is far from what I imagined what our family would look like when we “entered into discussions.”

Beginnings are like that: we think we can plan everything out and see the end from the beginning. It’s overwhelming, thinking of how off-track that kind of thinking can be. How many of us were ever planned up enough to face marriage, raise children, to live life in the face of an ever-changing culture? If someone has found the secret to being prepared for life, please let me know!

I married into a pastor’s family and my husband was an associate pastor at our home church at the time. I wasn’t prepared to be a pastor’s wife, not by a long shot, let alone prepared to be a church planting pastor’s wife in a foreign culture when we moved to Africa as missionaries three years later. I didn’t come from a family of preachers or ministers; we were just regular folks, so when I managed to hook the preacher’s son I was in way over my head. There are no handbooks on how to be a minister’s wife or how to follow the call of God. Neither is there an “exit strategy” built in to this call. The ministry, I have learned, is not a vocation. The ministry is a call that goes far beyond vocation. It is part of your soul. It doesn’t matter if we are paid or unpaid for what we do because we can’t shake the call.

Somehow I find myself wondering how, almost 33 years later, I am still partnering in the call with my husband and dreaming for the future, dreaming about church planting, feeding children, and raising up national leaders to help fulfill the vision of planting 1,000 churches in Africa. How many times did we need rescuing throughout those years, I cannot count. Those rescues range from facing sickness, trusting God to keep us safe in war, to the normal financial stresses of raising a family. However, God’s rescue came faithfully each and every time.

Every deliverance, every rescue, has to start somewhere. Those beginnings often go unnoticed by us. They can come in the form of a relationship forming, educational opportunities, chance meetings, all appearing to us as being “normal” occurrences in life. However, the Father, unbeknownst to us, uses those instances as “beginnings” of our rescue.

Judges 13:5 NLT “…he will begin to rescue Israel…”

There will be times in all of our lives when we are aching for rescue. Maybe, like Israel, you are already at the point in your life of needing a rescue. At the writing of the above scripture in Judges, God began to deliver Israel. He was working their rescue out before they even knew that He had heard their call. His answer came subtly, humbly, in the form of a child named Samson born as an only child to his parents who had not been able to have children. Samson’s rescuing of Israel wasn’t manifested until many years later – but the moment he was born, the rescue began.

The beginning of a rescue comes to us in much the same way as the deliverance of Israel by Samson – in small beginnings, God connections, chance occurrences. The work of God in our lives doesn’t come by accident; He is always preparing a rescue for us because He knows exactly when we will need it.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 NLT “He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.”

You can be sure that somewhere in life your rescue began and, as sure as there is a beginning, there is an end! The Rescuer is faithful; you will see the tide change in due course.