December 15, 2015
These past few weeks, i was frantically trying to rally more prayers to bombard heaven on behalf of the Y people. We were in the last stretch of the Bible lessons and hoping, praying and expecting the Y to turn to God.
All this seems good and right, doesn't it? But deep down inside i had no peace.
We say so easily "It is the Lord who does the saving, i only need to be obedient" but when sacrifice and hardships are involved there is something in us that wants us to see something in return! We want to see fruit for our labour. We want to know and experience that all was not in vain! All the lonely years of being the outsiders no matter what we did or did not do. All the years of giving things up like friends, family, a career, etc makes us want to know it was all worth it. For that is how the world works - hard work is rewarded and if you are not rewarded sufficiently then you look for a better place.
Not so easy in missions though. Many times we see no fruit for years, if ever! We trudge on staying obedient but somewhere there is that hope that a nice earthly kind of reward was waiting....that was me this morning.
I was begging the Lord to turn the people to Him on this next to last lesson. I was begging that many would come and hear the real reason why Jesus lived and died and rose again! He came to set them free! I wanted them so desperately to accept this truth but sadly when i looked into my heart the real reason was that i needed to see results to make it all better inside of me. Yes, i love the people too and I really want them to join God's family and be saved for salvation's sake and to God's glory for sure! But somewhere there mixed in the midst of it was a very selfish desire to be rewarded, to feel that it was all worth it.
It was one of those prayer times when you are happily on your own track and then suddenly you get this sinking feeling when the Truth kicks in. I knew my motives this morning (and probably over the last few weeks) were so, so wrong! How can something so seemingly all about others become such a self-centred thing? I was shocked! How could i seek reward out of all this? How could i think that God had to make it "worth my while" ? The devil was hijacking the whole thing and i was happily handing over the reigns! Believing the lies that I deserve this!
Ashamed i hung my head and asked for forgiveness. Forgiveness that I was seeking my own reward out of this. Praying for God mercy and grace for me. And receiving it! It was time to get back into the real game, resisting the temptation that used this self pity to make it all about me and giving it all back to God declaring Him Sovereign.
Jesus Is worth it. He does not need to make it worthwhile for me. He is the Only one worthy to receive praise and honour and glory. Because of His ultimate sacrifice that he made for all men He is worthy and my small life lived out here in the sticks is just a small way of how i can say thank You. My Struggles, my hardships fall away before His throne because He has already given me everything i need!
“And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.” Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they were saying: “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!””
Revelation 5:9-12 NIV
Bella, Thankful that i serve a Gracious and Loving God.
December 12, 2015
2004 was a topsy turvy year. We thought we had life all planned out. We were moving to another country but not too far. A bit out of our comfort zone but not too much, a chunk of adventure that was safe to face. But God changed our hearts to step out even further and the best thing was, that we were excited about this new direction our life was taking!
Fast forward 11 years and you can imagine our excitement when we eventually presented the Gospel message for the first time in our village! After years of preperation, learning languages, building a house, getting to know the people we were at the place of the dream God placed in our hearts! And that with a build up over a year of lessons beginning in Genesis, tracing God's redemptive story from the Garden of Eden to the crucifiction of Jesus and then on to His glorious resurrection!
All very wonderful and exciting stuff! You would think we would be over the moon! And in a way we were but....
We were battling so many things in the midst of all this amazingness. Sudden strange illnesses, huge storms with wind and hail right before the last Bible lesson, sudden onset of malaria in 3 of our workers, severe colds, dizziness, sick children, foot fungi, our well running dry, disappointment in others, funerals in the village, houses and teaching shelter being destroyed by extreme weather, etc, etc...and that was only in the last 7 days!
It is dark days indeed! And somehow, because i thought it would be all wonderful and happy days it felt much, much worse than it already was. Ferdinant Deist wrote "it is not real life that disappoints you (or God) but your expectations of life that does (or my expectations of what God was supposed to do)."
Somehow i had this idea in my head - not consciously thought out, but there nevertheless - that it would all be lovely and good and smooth. That we would all be healthy and have enough food and money, that there would be no funerals to go to, that the rains would stay away on a Tuesday, etc, etc! I could add quite a lot more to this list of MY own expectations!
Meantime, back in the village a huge battle was being fought and it didn't quite line up with what i had in mind....and Not Surprising ..... huge disappointment set in! The Lord was not only testing the village people on the Truth that they just heard but He was also testing me to see what was in my heart! Would i keep believing that He is Almighty? Even though we had that huge storm right before the teaching? He did not change but because of my expectations it seemed like He did. The spiritual battle was fierce and we were in the middle of it all....would we still keep our eyes on the Never Changing Living God? Or would we fold and declare this is a god forsaken land with no hope, pack our bags and leave with heads hung low?
Jeremiah 55.... "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, declares the LORD. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts. As the rain and snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is My Word that goes out from My mouth, it will not return to Me empty, but will accomplish what i desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it."
God wanted me to keep on trusting Him no matter what. And that is hard, really, really hard. In a perfect world, aka heaven, all the people would have accepted Jesus as their Saviour and bowed before the King of Kings. But this is earth and man has a free will. God loves these people with a burning love but each one needs to decide wether or not they will choose Him. Keep on choosing Him even if things get hard. Even if He does not act out my list of expectations. I needed to keep choosing to believe!!
In Romans 8 Paul wrote "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?" Notice the WHO? But then, curiously, he goes on to list THINGS: trouble, hardship, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger, sword, facing death, considred as sheep to be slaughtered. Phew! The enemy wants us to stop loving God by using all these things to turn against our Lord. Our faith will be tested! My faith IS being tested!
The qoute from Romans starts with the question "Who can seperate us from God's love?", but ends with a "NO!" and then gos on to say "In All these things we are More than conquerors through Him who loved us!" More than conquerors! "For i am convinced that neither death, not life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all crations (including my own fabricated expectations!) will be able to seperate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
It is called Faith in God no matter what. Not blind faith, but faith in an unchanging God. Ferdinand Deist also said that Faith is not based on the certainty of how i think God should act, but on the certainty that He Is there. Faith in God full stop.
So as I sit here with my painful toes, still no water, sick kids, my husband that just came back from the funeral, etc, etc i.e. nothing has changed but actually everything has changed! God is here, He loves me and the people around me, He cares and Nothing...not a thing can seperate me from that love!
And i kneel in thankfulness, more than a conqueror through Jesus who loves us!
Bella, learning to trust more day by day...
December 10, 2015
The last couple of weeks the Bible teaching out here has been building up to the death and resurrection of Jesus! All very exciting to be bringing the Gospel message here for the first time. But with that came many challenges, the enemy really trying to discourage us in many ways. This morning after a big storm blew away our little meeting place shelter and a few other things, i was really feeling down....but i read these verses in Isaiah: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name, you are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Saviour."
Do you notice the When? It is NOT If....but when. That means that we will go through these things but that the Lord promises He will be with us!
Still i felt discouraged and while sitting with my head a bit a low at my desk the Holy Spirit reminded of another verse in Habakkuk.....and there lay the key. Here is my version of Habakkuk 3:17-19
Though i am covered in flea bites and have ringworm on my foot
Though the well has run dry and we have buckets everywhere for washing and flushing,
Though the Bible teaching shelter was blown away completely
And the kids have been sick all week
Yet i will be Joyful in God my Saviour.
The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
He makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
He enables me to go on the heights (or to just go on and face another day!)
I will be joyful in God my Saviour. In another Bible version it says i will greatly rejoice in God my Saviour!
Worshipping God, greatly rejoicing in Who He is was what was lacking! And so i put on a worship song and did just that!
Bella, looking UP!
December 06, 2015
Yesterday one of our workers became ill very suddenly. He had a bad case of malaria. I gave him some medicine and then we prayed for him. We have not prayed for any sick people up front yet, but things are changing. Next week is the last lesson of the Gospel and now he understands so much more about God, about putting all our trust in Him. We have spoken about Jesus' power to heal and we were asking Him now to heal. All very exciting.
He was so sick he barely made it home. Silently i continued to pray for him. I begged God to spare his life so that he could hear the last bit of the story. That Jesus died for all his sins, that he does not have to do anything! So why was i so surprised when our worker came back a bit later and told us he was totally fine? He said Jesus healed him!! At first i rejoiced with him! I have seen God save many peoples lives out here with me only giving tea or changing the bandages every two days, or once not even having another chance to change the bandages on severe burns and then to see total healing without even a scar! And those being burn wounds on a hand! Amazing for sure! God is powerful and Can heal! But then doubt set in...why did i have this tight knot in my stomach? Why did I want to tell him just keep drinking the malaria medicine, just in case? (I didn't, but everything medical in me was shouting to do so!) me, the Big Doubter. Why Was i in such a state?
The Difference was of course, that all those other times i only asked God in secret. Now it was all in the open. What if God didn't come through? What if by some small miracle the medicine made a huge difference but later tonight he would be back to square one? God's honour was, according the me, on the line here! It felt like i had to remind Him His name was on stake here! I was so afraid that this man's faith would be snuffed out without even been given a chance.....i was worrying that God's reputation was on the line and He wasn't aware of it. As if little old doubter-in-medical-miracles would know better than the Creator of the universe and every person who ever lived! Jip, that was me.
I looked frantically to my dear husband, who was not worried even a centimeter! He just calmly said that that is God's business and he believes God knows what He is doing. Oh, how i sometimes wish i had his personality! I guess i would have been Thomas if i had been one of the 12!
I had to learn to let God be God. I know this sounds quite terrible to see it so black on white but don't we all somewhere along the line think we know better than God? And all our worry is only because we don't trust completely. So, i had to let go and keep myself from running after him shouting at the top of my lungs to just in case keep drinking the medicine...wow, now that would have ruined it all for sure! What was i thinking?
But God in His mercy kept me from ruining it all and i slowly closed the door and Gladly placed him back in The Father's loving Hands. More than Capable Hands.
Bella, relieved that i don't have to run this show!
December 01, 2015
Since becoming missionaries life has not been one easy paved way. Not surprisingly, since we are agents of the Light and the darkness will do everything to keep the Light from shining.
This on the one hand, on the other I think we kind of expect an easy life! We have God on our side! We are in direct contact with the Maker of the Universe! But, this is not how it works. And we might have set ourselves up for huge disappointments because our expectations are all wrong. Not that God is not trustworthy or dependable, it is more that we want to trust God, tell Him exactly what and how to do it and then if it doesn’t happen our way we are disappointed….yes, the reality of being an agent of the Light is that life will be hard. Harder than we sometimes want to imagine! We choose a nice comfortable place to hover….a place where everything goes according to our plans, and that means mostly not living in so-called defeat! But that is not life at all....
Living in an unreached (or least reached) village surely adds to that stress….many times we have said through God’s grace “Come Hell or High water by the Grace of God, we will continue!” Not necessarily always jumping like young goats, more likely plodding on, but nevertheless moving forward. God has a mission and we are part of it! He is the One who keeps us here, gives us courage.
At times we have had to admit defeat and leave for a short time. Like recently, I had to take our boys back to our malaria free home country. I felt like a failure – complete and utter. It looked like the enemy won, because here we were …..leaving. After a week my husband went back to continue the Bible lessons…we stayed behind for them to recover sufficiently. They were happy and enjoyed good food, electricity, shops, swimming in the sea, etc…and me, well I felt really, really guilty.
Guilt, the thing our culture runs on. What was God thinking about me? Hysterical mother? Quitter? Softy? I felt so bad for not going back sooner….. in a way thinking I was a failure in God’s sight. Sigh. I was judging God’s love and care for me on what I did, or in this case, did not do. Doing nothing=failure=no loving Father.
One morning I came upon this verse, which by the way, I suppose I have read at least a 100 times. Jesus was speaking to His disciples after He sent them out to tell of the Good News….they were tired and weary and this is what He told them… “Come with Me to a quiet place and get some rest.” Mark 6:31
Jesus knows I am not a super person. He knows I get tired and scared and need rest. He knows me. I was in a quiet place because He brought me there, to rest. His love and care did not depend on my performance. He still loved me and the Y people. He has it all in hand. I need not worry that I have failed Him. He knows my heart and He saw I needed rest. Rest away from the direct attacks. Although the subtle attacks in my own culture also took me by surprise! Another story altogether! So I decided to take Jesus up on His Words and to go with Him to a place of quiet and rest.
And now we are back here again. Ready and rested.
Bella, resting in that.