When will I “get it”? It still surprises me that I a such a slow learner. But it shouldn’t.
Over and over again I am reminded I am in process. Yet God is always there, with open arms, full of mercy and grace. Puts a lot in perspective with my need to be patient with Annikah.
Some have said that I am brave, that I am sacrificial. For “giving up” our lives in America to come here. Sometimes I allow myself to believe this for a minute. But just one. Then reality. Just as pride sneaks in and seeks to destroy I have a reality check.
I would like to set the record straight. I am fallen, I am selfish, I seek to control my life when I know it is better left in His hands. I am only redeemed by the blood of Jesus and more and more I am reminded of this.
Discontentment. It is an epidemic as I see it.
I’ve wrote about this general theme before but I was humbled after repenting of some nasty feelings that arose in my heart this week. As I hear about friends “back home” that are moving into new houses, getting new jobs, taking vacations, going back to school, you name it, I allowed the green eyed and ugly monster in (also called sin) and started thinking maybe we could have that if we had not; like idiots, sold everything and moved to Africa. Maybe we made a mistake. Maybe, Maybe, Maybe. Maybe THEN I would be happy, maybe then I would feel “secure.” Maybe if things were different….Maybe things would be better…maybe.
My first clue that He wants to teach me something is usually that I think it is about something outside myself. When in reality He is using the situation to shine the light on the mirror in front of my face to reveal more. my need. my way. my source. Sometimes it is painful but always worth the journey.
Discontentment. I think a part of me thought moving here would change this struggle for me. After all I am surrounded by people with needs much greater than what upholstery looks best with what paint color and they are definitely NOT worried about being skinny:) (not that all struggles at home can be categorized this way AT ALL, but I often felt convicted that many of MY struggles were a petty waste of time in light of what is eternally of value). But the truth is that this is a struggle, a recurring sin I deal with and it just burrows in and finds a nice place to settle when I am not on watch, when I am not solely focused on all the amazing blessings in my life, the awesome and all powerful God I serve, the sacrificial king that is my Savior.
I allow that itch of discontentment in too often. And it is always something. When I scratch it it soon becomes an open, disgusting, festering wound that robs me of joy. You see it has nothing to do with “them” but everything to do with me. My journey. With the darkness competing for my thoughts, attention, for my devotion when I know what is better.”darkness has a hunger that’s insatiable” is a lyric to a favorite song and after listening to it the other morning I thought; yeah, right on. I happen to think there are many grains of truth in Indigo Girl’s songs but that one hit me. Hard.
Nothing will ever be enough. Unless it is Him. Unless I choose to allow peace to permeate the flesh I struggle with daily. And the truth is that nothing can close that wound. At least no material or temporal thing.
I was worrying the other day about what we will do when we do get home. We won’t have any money, we won’t have jobs and let’s face it living in Africa takes one off the job skill market quite quickly in Jason’s field. Then as I was praying about it I felt God say “Yes, you won’t have any money, you’ll be broke. And Yep it might be hard to find a job. But you will be ok. Because you have to learn a better way; to TRUST my child. Just trust. When have I not provided for you? Abundantly.”
I was humbled. A flood of instances came to mind, of miracles in my life that I can only attribute to the goodness of God. From the beginning of my life…..when I was not even 2 years old and only because of diligent prayers and His goodness was spared after my appendix had been ruptured for days. To the current….a month ago when we were questioning how we would cover all the expenses involved in traveling to the mainland so much for my sickness. And miraculously God prompted many people to give to us so that not only our needs were met but we could breathe again. How easily I forget the goodness in my life and dwell on the challenges. But to see these miracles I need to see through a lens. To choose to look. And this is my journey and I know the fruit of trusting in my life. I know the peace that comes from only living your own journey, only following God’s calling for you. But letting go of everything else is hard.
One of the reasons I enjoy living here is because people are eager to discuss spiritual matters. They do not have the unwritten “rule” that we have back home that we do not discuss religion or politics. Because that is the stuff of life. They love arguing, discussing, asking questions. And I I love engaging in what matters and how we see the world. One major difference in world view that I have observed living here is that in Western culture we feel that we need to control every aspect of our lives; we plan pregnancy and other major events, we worry about where money will come from and feel solely responsible for generating it, we plan and want a say in every aspect, we are individuals, we must see forward motion in our lives. When we don’t we feel cheated. When things don’t go as expected we “fix it.” Here many people see everything as “written” or decided in advance. Therefore they cannot effect change but simply are a passenger in what God has willed for them in their lives. They do not expect everything to “go their way” and they are familiar with death, with suffering, with wanting. At home most people “have” materially comparatively but yet still want more. As I reflect I think both extremes are tragically flawed. And not what I see the Bible teaching. No cultural; not Western culture nor the culture here has all the answers. To believe that is to be deceived.
The answer is not in culture. In other people. In things. In the changing. In the temporal.
It is in the unchanging.
This is about my life, my journey, what He wants to teach me “and what does the Lord require of me?” When I stand before God at the end of my life He will only ask me to account for me, for my life, for where I put my trust, my life, my hope, my faith.
7But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. 10I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. 12Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Phil 3:7-12
The rub? Giving up your life, considering everything a loss compared to knowing Jesus means peace. And I cannot do it for myself. His spirit works in my life. And He has things for me to do. To laying down, to giving up, to setting aside, to sacrificing, to being released from “achieving,” competing, trying to live any one’s life but my own. To Trust. To have Faith. To know Freedom. So, although I still “don’t get it” I am seeking…..What is He asking of me today? What can I lay down to know Him more? What can I give up that holds me back? What can you?