July 22, 2015
To live a valuable life. To feel of value. To do something worthwhile.
All these sound noble, but to what extent do i pursue them? And why do i feel them necessary?
All these questions have been mulling in my mind and heart the last couple of days. I felt a serious attack on who i was. Who i am, is not much, was my conclusion. What i have accomplished did not seem to add up to a lot. I felt i had let God down. Disappointed Him by my lack of doing anything worthwhile, like talking fluently Y! Or being able to juggle home, school and being a missionary with excellent precision!
I wanted to see myself as one who was flipping not only smooth juggling sticks expertly, but blazing fire balls without a scratch or burn! Instead i looked at myself and saw flaws and a lot of them. I felt extreme guilt in not going out more, helping more, praying more, ...... well in short being more! I felt others look at me and found me lacking...the weight on my shoulders piled up.
I could not for the life of me see me through God's eyes. Was He happy with me? I didn't think so. Did i think i was wasting His time here on earth? Yes. In short i was not enough and i felt such a disappointment to My Maker.
And because i was feeling that i did not match up, i really couldn't go to God and see me through His eyes. I could not find my worth in Him.
And this was exactly where the enemy wanted me - down and discouraged and feeling a complete failure plus not feeling like going back to my Father for comfort, help or encouragement! In one word - Stuck.
But in all of this God was still with me, never leaving me nor forsaking me. Gently working in my heart....
I was reading in the Message when these verses really struck home: Paul writing to the Galatians:
“What actually took place is this: I tried keeping rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn’t work. So I quit being a “law man” so that I could be God’s man. Christ’s life showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ."
Yes, i thought! This is how i realized i need a Savior way back when i became a follower of Jesus, but wasn't this what i was doing again now? Trying to work my way to God' acceptance?
I read on:
"My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not “mine,” but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not going to go back on that. Is it not clear to you that to go back to that old rule-keeping, peer-pleasing religion would be an abandonment of everything personal and free in my relationship with God? I refuse to do that, to repudiate God’s grace. If a living relationship with God could come by rule-keeping, then Christ died unnecessarily.”
(Galatians 2:19-21 MSG)
There it was.....I am no longer driven to impress God. This was what i was trying to do! I wanted to speak fluently the local language, I wanted to be all and do all in order to impress God. After all these years still trying to earn His love. Which by the way, Bella, is free!!
I needed to come to a total standstill, re-evaluate my panic-filled life, that i was never going to measure up, because in fact, i will never measure up. Not in that way! I have to accept daily God's love for me - His amazing love that does not change because i feel i have failed Him, or feel i can never be enough....He makes me enough. He takes me as i am, because i am His, bought with His precious blood, made perfect not by my own stubborn convictions but only through and by Him.
Doing His will daily, living in His acceptance and love, not listening to the vague accusations of the devil. Not comparing myself to others, especially those who looks so good! Not trying to impress God but to bask in His love. To be ok with who i am and what i do and feel enough, because He is enough.
July 18, 2015
There i was weeding, just like i said in the previous post. And i was feeling pretty good! I mean, i was outside doing something useful and the little flower garden was looking up!
I heard an "Odi!" from behind me - the local people's way of knocking or announcing that they are here to see you. I walked over. sat down and greeted politely. I went to call my husband as the visitor was for him. A local chief. Then i started weeded again.
And as the Bible says Pride comes before the fall. Well, in my case this very literally happened!
As i was working in the flower bed i thought to myself, i wonder what the chief thinks of me weeding. This comes from the popular belief that i am quite useless as a wife - i cannot work in a food garden, hoeing all day long. i cannot pound the life out of corn turning it into soft flour, i cannot pan out the chaff...etc, etc. So i thought to myself - at least he can see that i can work in the soil! Look, here i am weeding! And so on....in any case as these very egocentrical thoughts went through my head i stepped over a very low bamboo pole that our workers thought would look nice around the flower bed and the wrap-around skirt choose that exact moment to cling steadfast to my jeans and i fell. Flat. I had no leg where there was supposed to be a leg! It was one of those very good falls, the all or nothing ones! And this with the chief watching. "aahhh", i am sure he went, "i thought so! Useless!" :)
I on the other hand flipped myself over and just sat there looking as if nothing happened, trying to cover up what had just happened! My ego was busted, my toe hurt and then my whole right leg hurt shamelessly.
I guess i will never be a local, even if i try to impress them with the "skills" i do have ( i assume now, that weeding is not one of them) But i hope they love me anyway in their strange-never-show-any emotion way. Or if not love then, then at least as a good source of entertainmnet to them! And as it is commonly known, laughter is the best medicine!
Bella, bruised leg and bruised ego.
This morning i was weeding. I walked past my little garden yesterday and thought i looked quite nice. All green and lovely with a few lost flowers that no-one could kill in our 4 months absence ...BUT on closer inspection i saw that the "all green and lovely" was not true - mostly the green were from weeds. Clovers to be precise! Clovers all over the place, choking the life out of the struggling little mints and Impatience. Clovers circling the lavender trying to softly kill it too? In any case, i am weeding now, getting rid of these pesky intruders. But it is hard to get rid of them - if you don't pull them out roots and all, tomorrow afternoon there will be new and strong looking clovers dancing in the little breeze, taunting you to think them pretty!
And so it has been this week in my own life. I needed to do some serious weeding or rather the Lord did some serious weeding! I am the little garden and i am full of the wrong stuff!
Just like my garden who, on first glance, looked fine but was far from it, so it was with me. I realised i was harbouring a lot of anger and bitterness in my heart. I wanted a kind of revenge, i wanted to see justice done and done immediately! I thought if i kept it all in my heart i would force justice and consequences on the party that have injured me multiple times, but what i got was a loving Father gently showing me that what was in my heart was nothing righteous as i made it out to be. You know the kind - righteous anger - and it wasn't that at all. It was all of the bad kind. Ugly and sinful. Slowly killing me, choking the life out of me.
But just as weeding needs to be done roots and all otherwise you waste your time, so it had to be done with me - roots and all. I asked myself where the roots lay in this instance and a lot of old history came flooding back at me - or was it growing back at an exponential rate? In any case, the root of it all? What did i believe about God that was untrue? How can i get rid of this anger, because believe me, a little prayer said in the order of "I forgive _" was Not going to do the trick! I have seen this many times with my own kids - saying a rhyme does not touch the heart. I needed to forgive from my heat and for me to do so i had to face the deeper stuff. The kind of stuff that i try to cover up, put a lid on, basically ignore most of the time, because it takes to much effort to haul it all up and sort it out! And, was i not the one wronged? Why should i have to go through all of this?
Well, obviously i needed work on! I was stamping my (un)righteous right foot and nothing was happening. Does this remind you of a very angry little 4 year old when she doesn't get her way? Well, this was me and i am sorry to say it - although on second thoughts, not sorry to say it because the Lord brought redemption through it all and deliverance! Deliverance was so needed as i was a prisoner with choking sin around my neck! So, i am happy to say that is where i was. And only through God's intervention was this done and not my own!
Yes, i had to come to the point where i had to throw it all out there and see it for what it was - my sin. I needed to confess the thoughts i had about this whole thing - and believe me, it wasn't pretty! After exposing it and having seen it for what it really was and asking God to please, please forgive ME, i could say...I forgive (from the bottom of my heart) and i could let it go and i was FREE! Glorious!
I had to hand over justice to the Lord and i had to trust Him that He will work this also out for my good. It did not feel good at the time nor could i see how this hurt could be worked for my good, but for now all i need to do is trust in him for the end results! And as Sunni sad in the movie Best Exotic Marigold hotel "Everything will be alright in the end so if it is not alright it is not the end." :)
And the last part is that i need to guard my heart for it is the wellspring of life!
Bella, hopefully a prettier flower garden every day as i grow in my love for the Lord!
July 08, 2015
This morning I read a verse in 2 Cor 7 “But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus.”
I am in need of some encouragement so I guess this verse was encouraging me! God who comforts the downcast, comforted us…i wondered who God will send? but then again maybe i should not wonder and just see what happens.....
It reminded me also of something that happened about 5 years ago. We were building our house out here in the middle of nowhere. We were down, we needed help but none was coming! One morning I also read this verse and really felt God telling me that He is sending help – in the form of a Titus!
And so we looked in all kinds of directions – where would this Titus come from? Our team in L? Our home church? Other business people in the country or from our home country? (we were building a house!) Where would help come from?
Well, in the end it was in a very different form. That day God used a very beat-up old truck – green with only one front light – to be an encouragement to us. We had ordered the truck to bring the last of the building materials from town and with the truck came a small crew. They were not even believers but God used these men to lift us up! He can use anything and anyone to comfort His children. Apart from bringing the last things from L, they also happily hauled sand and stone for us and they slept over to do some more work. They were really such help and just what we needed! Titus came in the form of a truck.
If you would have looked at the truck and the motley crew you would never have thought that they could be a help to anyone. Looks certainly did not do it for them. But the fact is that they were! God’s hand was in it. (Even today when we drive through L and see the truck we all wave madly and they wave back!)
Here is one more example of a unlikely (in my eyes) candidate. Our village has two chiefs. One very nice and happy, the other sullen and difficult. When you visit him he tries to trick you up in all kinds of ways in the local language and then chuckles at your pathetic attempts. He is not a nice man at all. But two times the Lord has used him to encourage us (although I don’t think he ever realized this!) Alfred had to go to a funeral in our home country and this chief gave him some money towards the trip. If you knew how poor these people are you would grasp the significance of this! (And don’t even try to not accept the gift!) No-one else that we would normally think would help, gave anything towards this unexpected expense, but God was showing us He will look after us, He will provide and He did. Just last week being in a similar situation Alfred was visiting the chief and suddenly he scratched around his chair and came up with a banknote which he gave to Alfred. He told him it was for “lunch” since his wife was not there at the time, otherwise she would have made lunch for them. Again, God showing us not to worry, He has it all in hand. And God definitely has a sense of humour!
Sometimes, like now, I look in all the wrong places and feel disappointed when my plans of comfort or help do not pan out. I dream up ways of how God is going to come through - and do not leave room for God who knows me way better than any person on earth! I guess, I look to people – foremost those who are closest or to friends and also to the church and so on, but really with God there are no limits! He can choose to use a falling-apart green truck with one light named Titus, a difficult old man, or whoever or whatever He picks for the job to help or top encourage. My role is to accept it and trust Him and His ways and receive His comfort even if it is in an unconventional way!
God is always trustworthy!
Bella, looking forward to this day.
July 06, 2015
I am not a very touchy-feely person and especially Not when I am upset or angry or some kind of bad emotion. Do not hold me then! :) To give a real life example...we once had some pointers as to how to resolve conflict in our marriage. We had to sit with knees touching and holding hands…..it did not work for me, oh no!! We had more conflict in this supposedly conflict resolving position than any other time! Haha!
I any case, sometimes when I am upset and my dear husband tries to hold me in a hug, I squirm and get out of it. I guess being upset to me means being alone and trying to make sense of life on my own (my default way) In the beginning years of our marriage and nowadays at the worst times I had and have a hard struggle to even hug back or open my hands….Over the years it has faded a bit as i have learnt to open up mynheart and receive love and care and comfort.....and I really do do better, but just this morning I realized something very important.
I was listening to a song on the new Apple radio app – random Christian music (not my favourite way of listening but that is another story) – when I heard this lady sing about holding on to God as He was holding on to her…or something of that sort. And it got me thinking…..do I hold on to God in times of trouble? Well, of course in the Big Times! I know I have nowhere else to go but to Him! But in the little things? When things are not going all according to me? When I am upset or hurt (small things in the big universe) how do I hold on?
Mostly with clenched fists and trying to squirm out of it? Oh, yes. If bad things happen when I believe I am doing God’s will or when hard times hit in terms of support, do I still hold on? If the cupboard is empty and I need to make something out of nothing? When God is holding on to me but I stand there with my arms at my sides stubborn and sullen? Do I try and figure out a way by myself because I might think God has not my best interest in mind? Or do not know me and my needs (how petty those needs seem now!) Do I let Him hold me but hug back with closed hands? Fists clenched?
Of course I would like to answer my own questions with “no, never!” but that would be so false! This is exactly what I do! With open hands you receive - receive love, care and comfort. With clenched hands you receive nothing you keep it all to yourself! And so, my prayer today is that I will open my hands and embrace the One loving me with all He is! That I will trust Him in big and small matters and keep on believing in His goodness and love even in times when nothing makes sense and I see nothing to point me in that way! He is Love.
Bella, embracing Truth with open hands