Consider the Spider

13 Apr

“Enough is enough.” I didn’t want to use the surface spray. It says it can be an allergen and if you get it on your face, your face will go numb. Great.

Plus, I come from a family of practically hippies. I’m not into chemicals! It all started with grabbing my piano book this morning and grabbing the furry legs and body of the spider on the back of my book as well! I nearly died jumping back and screaming! He DID die lol. Then there was the one by the fridge, and after killing spider number three in 24 hrs., I did it. I sprayed all the edges around the floor in my bedroom (the site of the last death). And then it seemed instantaneously, my nose clogged up. I sneezed. I haven’t noticed any numbness yet, thankfully, but as I lay in bed at 11:00 with my shirt over my face, I realized there was no way I could sleep in my bed, fan or no fan.

So not only are the spiders staying out of my bedroom tonight, so am I.

We have resorted to my living room that is thankfully flume-free. But knowing that 2 out of 3 spiders prefer the living room anyway, somehow I feel like they won the battle today…

In the same vein, I have decided that spiders have nerves of steel.

Why is that we, who are like a 1,000 times bigger than the spider on the floor, are the ones running for cover? We dub them “monsters” and tell people they were “HUGE”!!! (These ones are the size of my palm with disturbingly fat brown bodies.)

The other day, said hairy monster blocked my path to the kitchen (the land of killer bug spray). In desperation, as there was no way I was going to attempt crossing no man’s land, I tried smacking the floor, gesturing in his general direction, making a ruckus, which, if I was the size of the spider and giant was doing around all that around me, I would certainly panic. But not this spider, he doesn’t move a muscle. I decide to try the shoe throwing method, so I get one from the closet (which I’m now checking for spiders here too of course), and first get just one, then two shoes (what if I threw it and he scurried towards me? I wouldn’t have a weapon!) So armed with TWO shoes, I throw one, which misses naturally, but was pretty close, amazingly. He didn’t even bat an eye! (or “eyes” as the case may be :). It was like he looked at me and said, “Really? Is that the best you can do?” I was being mocked by a spider! I threw another shoe which was even farther off with no result, then he starts coming in my direction, like he’s decided he’s had about enough of this disturbance and he’s going to take care of this problem. He turns slightly to the left, the direction of my bed. Great. He’s closer, and he might go behind my bed or in it!…I think I might lose my lunch after all. However, after he did his bed maneuver, he left the doorway free and clear. I bolted for the kitchen, and sprayed him for all I was worth. (Truth be told, I feel terrible using bug spray. I can’t help but pity them.) I then put him out of his misery with one of the shoes I retrieved. The kicker is, even though I “won,” I still feel emotionally beaten :).

Fear of spiders, at least non-poisonous ones, is completely illogical, and yet I will feel the same gut-wrenching dread the next time I see one. I have a lizard that lives under my stove, or bathroom closet…about a foot long. It doesn’t really worry me, but a 4-5 in. spider, and I have a mission to accomplish if I want to sleep at night. (Reason #561 to get married. I don’t have to kill all the horrid spiders).

There is much to be learned from this icky thing. One, he was fearless despite the fact he was alone and being attacked by something much bigger than himself. He could take a threat to his own person and see it for what it was, only a threat, and continue on with his goal, whatever it is. (They must have some goals, right? 🙂 Rather than run from a problem, he ran at it! Despite his small stature, he struck fear in the heart of the enemy, even at his death!

I wish I could say I was more like that in life, taking the problems of life head-on, conquering even in seeming defeat. Proverbs mentions the industrious ant, but I think there is a valid point to be made for the courageous spider.

“Consider the spider, thou fearful, and take heart, for if God be for you, who can be against you?”

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“She hath done what she could.”

4 Mar

(Mark 14:8)

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The disciples saw the gift of the woman with the alabaster box as a a misuse of funds— “Why was this waste of the ointment made?”

Self-righteously I’ve thought, “Yeah, what’s with those heartless disciples?!” But, they saw all the programs that money could have gone to. They saw the poor on the street corner with not enough to eat. Isn’t that what we’re supposed to do? God has called us to help the poor and needy. And yet Christ rebukes his disciples here and says that she gift was great. He whole-heartedly approved, though so much money was “wasted” on Him.

Sometimes I think I’m a mixture of the two camps in this story. I want to be the woman with the alabaster box, and yet the voice of the disciples comes in the back of my head, telling me that there’s a better way to spend that time or money or whatever.

I don’t know if others doubt the ministry I’m involved in, but I’ve doubted myself many times—“Is this really, really what the Lord would have me do? Is this really the best use of my talents or resources? I’m not very good at such and such, maybe I should be doing something different, not ‘wasting’ my time on this, since its not going that great anyway.” And if you second guess yourself enough, you become just like those disciples, doubting that God knows how best to use his resources.

If God has called me to pour out myself on the mission field in PNG, in a position that I sometimes feel inadequate for, then I need to just be confident in that. It is not a competition (ahhhh, why is it that deep down I think of some many things that way? :), I am supposed to do what I can and leave the results to the Lord. Isn’t there a verse about how foolish it is to compare ourselves to others? We think, “But Lord so-and-so is seeing lots of souls saved! This church over here is really growing!” But that’s foolish thinking—like the disciples—This could have been sold for much money and used elsewhere. If it is a true gift of love then it is exactly what the Lord wants. And if the Lord has called me to return to the States and serve Him there, then again, who am I to doubt His perfect plan?

How often have I tried to think of things “logically” with a list of “pros” and “cons,” before I even consider what God would want most? We always assume it’s got to be the plan that makes the most sense, but God is a God of doing things opposite of what we would think. Not that it’s bad to be logical of course :). But if we think about how God worked through the Bible- Balaam’s donkey, ravens to feed Elijah, Gideon’s trumpets, fishermen for disciples, etc. There’s so many examples where our logic says, “Lord, there must be a better way!” And yet, he seems to say, “This is exactly how I planned it for My glory.”

Our heart in the matter is far more important than what our mind says. Less Martha, more Mary :).

May those words be spoken of me by my Savior, “She hath done what she could.”

 

A Trifle, no Small Feat

1 Jan

Trifle

When my mom makes a trifle: it’s super easy, it looks and tastes amazing— it’s like she snaps her fingers, and boom! Deliciousness appears!

When I make a trifle (apparently): Nothing is easy (and not just because I’m in New Guinea), it looks,…well, it’s one of those desserts someone says, “Oh, you brought dessert! Great! What is it? Mmmm, chunky pudding stuff! That sounds wonderful!”, and the taste, well, I’ll have to let you know. 

Since taking a scoop out of the middle to get all the layers would only ruin the already questionable appearance, I can’t try it before presenting it. (It has just occurred to me that really, if I can’t taste the dish without “ruining” it, perhaps I shouldn’t be making it….)

Thankfully I’m feeding this to missionaries, and missionaries are hardened to eating strange stuff. 🙂 (Although the ladies are all practically master chefs, but I refuse to think about that.)

It all started with a box of angel food cake. How much easier can it be? You don’t even have to put an egg in it! Or grease the pan (definitely a wonderful thing as I really don’t like stuff all over my fingers…though they don’t mention how the sides stick, so I’ll be scrubbing that in a little bit). I add the water, zip, zop, the cake’s in the oven. First step check!

Then, the pudding.

(This is where things started to fall apart…) I didn’t have instant, and homemade is better anyway, right? I’d made it before, but I didn’t really like the recipe I had used, it got too firm I thought. So I get on Pinterest (evil thing—it led me down the garden path on this one!). “Best ever Vanilla Pudding.” Perfect! Well it was perfect, until half an hour later I’m still stirring and stirring and it just refuses to thicken. I double the cornstarch. Nothing. I add 2 eggs. Slightly thicker. I let it boil a bit. Nothing….So, feeling hopeful, I think, “Surely it will congeal as it cools in the fridge,”….or not.

Several hours later (after whipping the Dream whip, thickening the canned berries I had, and chopping the canned pineapple down to size), I’m ready to assemble the dish.

The glory of the trifle is putting it in a glass dish, and everyone can see on the sides the various layers of goodness- cake, fruit, cream, pudding, etc. However, as my pudding refused to get much beyond soup, well it all sorta ran together, with an oh-so-thin layer of whipped topping on top.

Alas, that’s as good as it’s going to get. Hopefully the taste will compensate for..everything else lol.

Through this trial (“trifle” that is :), I have learned a few things that I can take with me into the new year. 

  1. If you don’t have instant pudding, don’t do it.
  2. Your mother has been doing this for a long time. What comes easy for her may be anything but easy for you. Don’t assume you can do in a day what she’s perfected in 10 years.

As I’ve been thinking about the New Year, I’ve been thinking about my age a bit, and figure, I’m not some clueless 20-something college kid any more! I’ve got it together! I was even struggling to think of resolutions this year (either it was something I figured I wouldn’t be able to change, or I was content with the status-quo in my life, the “floss more, lose a few pounds” resolutions don’t count :). I know, I know, how prideful! It didn’t occur to me that it was pride at the time, but more of a “I’ve finally matured in some areas, yes!” type of feeling.

Anyway, today was a good reminder that I have certainly not arrived! Not in the kitchen, and not in many areas. Rather than look at the accomplishments of others and think, “That’s easy, I could do that,” it would be wiser to take stock and see how people have managed it. Overconfidence only ends in soupy pudding.

To continue the theme of learning from my parents, I am going to try to do the following this year:

  1. Learn to be more consistent. My dad runs at 4 AM everyday-weekends, holidays, vacation, rain, sleet, snow, whatever. If I could be half that consistent, it would be an improvement (though doing anything at 4 AM is out of the question! 🙂
  1. Learn to slow down in the kitchen. I don’t sift, I don’t level anything with a knife, I don’t throw out the pudding soup and start over. If it’s worth doing, I guess it’s worth doing right. Get over the fact you think scooping the flour into the measuring cup is silly.
  1. Learn to give and give, regardless if you feel like or not. If I have learned anything from my parents, it’s the importance of giving to others—your time, talent, whatever, just give. I struggle with getting on my mom for “volunteering” for yet another thing at church or school because I’m concerned for her—I don’t want her to stress out, etc. However, I think that’s probably wrong. I am so thankful that they are both the type of people that don’t think twice about volunteering. They just do it, it doesn’t matter if they did it all the last time too. They’re not keeping count. Thank you, Lord, for the witness of my wonderful parents!

 

Happy New Year, everyone!

 

A Dry Season

16 Nov

Don’t you just love the colors of fall? How anyone can see the beauty of the leaves change and believe evolution is beyond me….I love the seasons you get in a temperate climate. I love the seasons here in New Guinea as well, they’re just easier to remember: rainy and dry.

rainy seasondryseason

As some of you may know, we have just come through a particularly dry Dry season. Typically there would be small rains even in the “dry season” (as opposed to the torrential  downpours during rainy season), but this dry season there wasn’t a drop. The lush green school yard became dust. The market that used to teem with vendors had only a few here or there—gardens were drying up; no one had any extra to sell to someone else. Water buckets became a common sight on the roads. As missionaries, we saved every last drop. As one missionary put it–“If you haven’t used that bucket of water 3 different ways, then it’s still good!” Which you might cringe at, but the fact that the rain tanks were down to a quarter and less, makes you think twice (or three times, as the case may be :)). It is incredible, actually, how little water you really need to wash with if you had to carry the bucket in and boil it.

Praise the Lord, though, the rains came! Our tanks are filled to the brim after rationing water since June.

But here’s the cool part of the story: The Mango trees.

This is the time that mangos are starting to bear fruit, and there’s fruit hanging from the trees  EVERYWHERE. There’s mango trees all over Wau, but most don’t bear fruit. I remember, because I’m always looking for them, and I’m disappointed over and over again when I ask, “Isn’t that a mango tree over there?” “Oh yes, but it never has any fruit.” Most fruit trees only bear a certain number of years (particularly when they’re not cultivated, which applies to ALL of the trees here), and they’re finished. They flower, but they never have mangos. However, this year, every mango tree you look at is laden with juicy fruit! Trees that people have in their yards that “never bear fruit,” have mangos this season! It’s so unusual!

I am not a farmer by any means, but there is a common agreement here, and it seems it must be true, that there is a connection with how dry its been, and how abundantly the mango trees are producing.

We all have “Dry seasons” in our lives: times that are hard, are not going well, times that require rationing out of our resources-whether it be financially, emotionally, or even spiritually. Times of testing and trail allowed in our life by God. I know that my thoughts during the times of testing in my life often run in the same direction that our thoughts ran during the dry season.

“Is this ever going to end?” “I’m not sure I can take much more of this.” “I just want to have a normal day (That didn’t involve locking up the house at night and then realizing that all your buckets are empty so you can’t wash your dishes, flush the toilet, or shower the next day. Great.I’ll just get out my pjs and do that :))” “What will I do if this does go on for another 6 months?”

I think like that all the time when I’m tested! All we can see is the here and now, the “my life is hard” part.

But God, God sees that mango harvest. He sees the great fruit we could bear if we could just “bear” with a little more suffering. He sees the end result and how great it will be for us if we would just patiently wait for his timing.

IF

As I look at the pile of mangos on my counter that I bought today, I am reminded that God is the “gardener” in my life. He knows exactly just how much water I need or don’t need to produce spiritual fruit for Him. It may be that He’s working in an area in my life that never bears fruit, or hasn’t for years, and He’s holding back the rains just long enough to make it produce fruit that pleases Him.

Job 23:10: “But he knoweth the way that I take; when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.”

Thought for the Week–Unite My Heart

24 Oct

heart

Ps. 86:11- Teach me thy way, O Lord; I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart to fear thy name.

Unite. To come or bring together for a common purpose or action. To come or bring together to form a unit.

Not a complex word. Not a long word, and yet it is so full of meaning! The name of our country for example—we are the UNITED States. Not the Associated States, or the Organization of States of America, or even a League of States. We are “United.” The name implies a far deeper relationship than an association or club. We are united in purpose, even our very beings as Americans speak (or at least they should!) of this depth.

The term also reminds me of the time our nation was not united. When we first broke from Great Britain, what an amazing step to take! And how risky! Those first years with our founding fathers were filled with near failures and collapses! Yet the Union stood the test. Then the Civil War hit with all of its horrors and forbodings for the future, and still our country weathered that storm as well, by the grace of God.

But in this verse, the Psalmist speaks of “unit[ing] his heart.” Though I love my country, a united heart is of far more importance. You would think that keeping a single heart united for a common purpose would be easier than keeping a country together, but alas! My heart too often splinters off in a million directions (well, maybe only 3 or 4, but still!)

I never really thought about David’s prayer here, he wasn’t stating that his heart WAS united, he was asking God to unite for him. Our hearts are so fickle and divided. We (at least I) would love God AND those couple other things on our list that we just can’t part with. We don’t even realize our hearts are divided we’re so accustomed to it. This is my “church” heart, and this is my “watch tv all night” heart, and this is my “I just can’t give up that sin” heart, and this is my “work is more important than my devotions” heart, etc…We aren’t trying to be hypocrites, we just sincerely love God AND x, y, z.

A united heart is a “What is your will for me right now, God?” kind of heart. We don’t even consider doing or thinking something else, because our hearts are united. Our heart is singular. It has “come together for a common purpose or action”—loving God!

Our United States do not always agree, but in the end, we are not battling each other. Mississippi is not marching on Texas. Delaware is not invading New Jersey (at least, we haven’t yet :). We would never be able to fight our enemies if we were divided amongst ourselves. But we’re not, we’re united.

It’s time for our hearts to be the same. We can do little to fight the enemy if we are too busy fighting ourselves within. And I imagine that is just how Satan likes it. Christians with divided hearts have little impact on the world around them. How wonderful to know that I don’t have to do the “peace talks” in my heart, and get it all to come to a resolution. The Prince of Peace is waiting to do just that–give us peace and rest. We can go to our Savior and ask Him to “unite [our] hearts to fear thy name.”

With Divine intervention, those pieces of our hearts that want to divide off and follow other things (idols, if we’re going to be honest) will return to their first love. With God’s help, all the divided/broken pieces of our hearts will be mended, knit together to love Him WHOLE-heartedly.

It was Only One Night

30 Sep

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It seems that every time I’m with Naomi Rowe for any extended period of time, my life is bound to be exciting.

This past weekend the Rowe parents (another missionary family in Wau) had to go to Lae, which gave me an opportunity to “babysit” (though the kids are 12 and up, so it hardly felt like babysitting :).

Naomi (16) and I were busy preparing dinner- tuna cakes- (who knew those would be great! I am adding those to my menu at home!), when it started to rain. Hard. (YES!!!! And there was great rejoicing and praising the Lord!). Then Naomi noticed that the water that should be gushing from the gutter into the rain tank in front of the window was gushing out of the rain tank instead! The filter (a mesh basket over the hole on top of the tank) was clogged.

“I’ll go unclog it!” says Naomi as she goes to the door. “Oh, but we have to use the stool to stand on to reach the top, and it’s wobbly so you’ll have to hold it.” (rain, wobbly stool, and my oh-so-coordinated hands to save her from falling…Great…I can just see myself explaining to the parents how she broke her arm or…head the one night they were gone)

We get the stool, but it has a permanently attached cushion. Naomi runs to get a plastic bag to cover it (and the safety factor goes down yet another notch…). After 2 attempts at finding a large enough bag to cover the seat, we find ourselves outside, in the rain, fighting with the filter. Naomi it turns out is not quite tall enough—a fact I was not aware of on the onset of this operation—so she proceeds to try to clean it out with her hands, which was working sort of but taking forever (on the wobbly stool in the rain), so I volunteer to get the filter out.

Even better. I have no idea what I’m doing, the basket is over my head (though I can thankfully reach it), and the only thing saving me from tumbling from the slippery plastic bag and splatting on the concrete below is Naomi. The thought that Naomi and I really haven’t known each other very long and maybe putting my life in her hands is not the best idea right now occurred to me, but the water must be saved!

So I reach up there and work the basket out of its hole, which in the process works the down spout that is pouring an amazing amount of water out of it over to the side as well, and one, two—it’s pouring down my shirt and skirt, and poor Naomi instead. So much for saving the water.

I wrench the pipe back into the hole of the tank—no more waterfall effect—and try to dump the gunk out. It’s stuck, plus I probably shouldn’t be dumping in on the concrete anyway (just in case I do do a face plant on it, at least it can be gunk-free :), so Naomi leaves her post and dumps it out in the grass. When she returned, I then had to return the basket to the hole…more moving the pipe, more buckets of water all over us, and the filter is in place! Water is running freely into the tank! Success!

We run back into the house (though I don’t know why, there wasn’t much left that was dry, at least on the front), and continue fixing dinner (I did wring out my shirt as much as possible first). Alas, I did NOT bring extra clothes (it’s been dry for months! I hadn’t planned on playing in the rain lol), so it ended up being a t-shirt at dinner with her grandparents, but at least I wasn’t dripping…too much.

Then as we’re returning from her grandparents, Naomi mentions that we could save water and wash our hair from the gutters that were overflowing. “Good idea,” I agree! So we grab the shampoo and head out to the workshop where the gutters are dripping. “The best one’s back here,” she tells me. Little do I know that means “back here past this obstacle course of slightly dangerous objects from the workshop in the dark,” or I would have been satisfied with the trickle from the gutter I saw before me. So she takes me back there, “around this tank,” “over this board,” “Oh, actually there’s two boards there,” “There’s a piece of metal sticking up here,” as she lifts her leg way up over this thing that my poor unadjusted-to-the-dark eyes could not distinguish at all! I felt like I was on some imaginary trip; the only way I knew the objects were real is because my bare toes found a couple of them! “Then you step down off the concrete,” “Around this water tank, oh and watch your head there’s this board [actually I really didn’t catch just what it was hanging down there, but I could tell it was something, and I definitely didn’t want to poke any eyes out on it—visibility was already a problem]” Then she gets around this second tank and is like, “Oh, it’s not overflowing here, I guess we’ll have to go back.” What???

“Oh, ok. No big deal. Now that I’ve run the gauntlet once, what’s one more time? In reverse and it’s still raining…” I couldn’t help but laugh at the ridiculousness of it all; thankfully I did make it back to the first gutter with only slightly stubbed toes.

So we wash our hair in the ice water (So thankful that there was another option for showering!), we’re almost done, and then I hear talking. I look up from under my bedraggled locks, in my drenched clothes, and see 2 children, one of which is a school student of mine, walking by. Lovely.

Someone once said the first thing a missionary leaves behind in America is your pride. If I didn’t believe it before, I do now.

After the hair-washing experience, we went back inside and spent the rest of the evening rather quietly, with much needed showers, baking cinnamon rolls, and a couple games of Operation (where I again had an opportunity to forget my pride as I lost both times horribly).

All in all it was a wonderful time, but I think that perhaps it was a good thing that I was only at the Rowes for one night, who KNOWS what might have happened if I had stayed over again!

The Missionary Journey of Christ, Part II

22 Sep

servant

As I’ve been studying more about the Christ’s life on earth, the I’ve been drawn to Philippians. We see Christ’s peace in seemingly frustrating times of waiting, “growing up”, etc. Then we get to Philippians.

“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (2:5). 

So these observations are not just causal (which I suppose we all know they’re not :), but in case we thought that the life of Christ was merely something to study and wish for, it’s raised to the level of a command in Philippians 2. The key word in this chapter to me right now is  “servant.”

Now I’ve read this passage, heard this passage preached, etc. for years. I doubt this is in any way original, but I’ve been thinking just on the word servant. If we only looked at that word, not even counting the part about the cross and his equality with God, which I suppose you could spend pages upon pages on all of these aspects of Christ’s sacrifice, but just the idea of a servant.

Servants live different lives than most of us (unless you happen to be one :), then you understand this quite well!). Servanthood, REAL servanthood is practically anti-American. Please don’t misunderstand me, there’s no shame in being a servant in life, of course, and I would instantly do it if circumstances required it, but that’s just it—we would not CHOOSE to be servants. We would not CHOOSE the janitor job if a better option presented itself (Unless the janitor job paid really, really well :). We would certainly not CHOOSE as some servants in the Bible did, to have an earring permanently added to your appearance and be a servant for life! If we would be a servant it would only be on the condition that we were working toward something better, or at least so that our children could have something better. We (at least I) would be ashamed at the thought of “settling” for a job like a scullery maid with no ambition for more! “Getting ahead” in life, even in Christian circles, is the norm. Certainly there are some very good reasons for this feeling, we should want to do the best we can with God’s gifts, etc.

 But the very idea of a servant-the real kind, the kind that lived in houses like Downtown Abbey, without the glamor of Downtown Abbey, is a hard one to swallow for me.

Maid holding white stack towels

You became a servant—likely at a young age—and you did what the master wanted. For life. And you didn’t think of advancing yourself. You didn’t think about how you’d really like to have a holiday. How you’d like to marry so-and-so though it was forbidden. How you wanted to travel. How you really didn’t want to work from 5:00 AM till 10:00 PM for someone else. You just did it all. Freedom did not exist outside of the master’s mercy on you. And that’s what you considered it—mercy, not a right. Those who didn’t abide by those feelings found themselves out of a job in most cases, and should find a different line of work. How that idea just grates on our desire for independence! I would feel like I was stifling—living in a house, doing the same thing day in and day out, being considered inferior—ugh! I imagine servants in Paul’s day had much the same life or worse, probably not far off from slavery.

Yet Christ “took on the form of a servant.” Paul was the “servant of Jesus Christ.” Those were not idle words! Sometimes I think in Christian circles we throw around words like “servanthood” and “obedient” and “giving your all” without really understanding the full meaning behind them (I know I do—even when I teach—I tell kids all the time to “be like Christ”, etc., but how great a command that is!)

When Christ took on the form of a servant, it was in the full spirit of the word.

He didn’t look for a better option. He didn’t desire things to be done differently; He didn’t mind laboring from dawn to dusk in His Father’s business; He didn’t mind the absence of holidays or marriage; or the fact that many people belittled Him! He did not miss the FREEDOM to CHOOSE.

Honestly, there are some areas in my life that I just want to choose!! I want to decide! I don’t want it to be decided for me because of x, y, z!  I know in my head that God’s best IS best, but…In some ways, I think our contentment and ability to find God’s will in our lives in areas that we have no control over are a much better picture of where our walk with Christ really is. 

It’s easy to point to my job: Missionary and say, “That’s what I’m doing for God! That’s how I’m submitting!” It’s much, much harder to point to my single status and say, “That’s what I’m doing for God! Trusting Him to take care of that and submitting to His will for now!” Or at the fact that I teach lots of algebra at the moment–not my favorite to teach (apparently not everyone thinks like I do :), or you fill in the blank. We all have those things…

Being a real servant was not just a job, it was a lifestyle—you slept, ate, and breathed that house and family that your worked for.

Oh to be as obedient as Christ was! Not a half-hearted servant, but one that willingly submits to the Master’s will and sees His blessings as just that, blessings, not rights that I have earned. In the same spirit, to see struggles not a struggles, but simply part of the task my Master has assigned to me.

I have included part of the chapter below. These words just jumped of the page at me—full of conviction about my attitude and encouragement—if Christ could be a servant, then certainly I, who owes so much to my Master, can do no less. And I can do it with a joyful, grateful heart for all that He’s done for me.

Philippians 2:1-15

If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.

 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

 Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world.

The Missionary Journey of Christ

13 Sep

footprints

We often assess the work and ministry God has given us for a variety of reasons: our effectiveness, our happiness, our progress, our efficiency, etc., etc., etc. I believe assessment is good to an extent because we all can and should desire to improve our ministry so that it can be that the best it can be for the Lord’s sake.

Though there are many things in my ministry I am thankful for and I have no doubt about God’s calling my life, there are other parts where I wonder, “Is this the best use of my time? Is there something I’m missing? Why does it seem like I’m spinning my wheels?” Or waiting for God’s time, wow, in my human thinking, that seems like a tremulous waste of time! (again, not correct, but that’s how my flesh tends to go.)

As I’ve been thinking and praying about this issue of: “Am I “wasting” my time if I’m not using every talent every second?”

The Lord reminded me of the first “missionary.” Before Paul- our Lord and Savior, Christ himself. He left his home, went to a different place, alone, (without any deputation to raise support I might add :), and revolutionized the world. Of course our lives will in variably fall short of that, but still there are some comparisons. 

First, Christ left a comfortable home. Very comfortable, everything the senses could desire. From the dazzling beauty of heaven, he went to a manger in a cow barn. Stinky, dirty, poor. And as far as we know, those conditions didn’t improve much throughout his life (I’m not sure what they did for deodorant back then….but I have a feeling it smelled different!). Then, besides the beautiful home country, he left the perfect family, literally. And though he certainly had the moral support of his Father and could speak freely with Him in prayer, there was no Skype, no FaceTime, nothing. He was physically separated from his Father, and ultimately, spiritually as well! Then there’s the human body, an amazing thing, but compared to perfection in Heaven, again, how short we fall!

Have you ever wondered why Christ came as a baby? Why not a man? Why not come down in a cloud, minister for 3 years and be done with it? Or even 33 years as an adult still would seem easier. The One who spoke the world into being had to learn to talk as a baby, learn to walk, endure the humiliation of diapers! How incredible the Christmas story is! As fully God and fully man as a child I would imagine it would have been so frustrating! And yet He never faltered or doubted God’s plan.

When I think about us as Christians and as a missionary, we point to our “sacrifices”—giving up life with our families, leaving the conveniences of America, dealing with the dirt, the smells, the greater hardships of living in a different place, it STILL IS NOTHING when compared to Christ. 

And when sometimes I think that “This thing here is a waste of my time, why haven’t you given me a larger ministry in that area, blah, blah,” I am now reminded of how Christ took 30 years of his “missionary journey” doing what? Growing up. Being human. From our perspective it would seem he could have skipped all that and jumped right into ministry! Why waste all that time “doing nothing”? And clearly that’s where my human perspective is lacking because I don’t know all the reasons; the Bible doesn’t seem to explain them all. I think one at least is so that He could be the perfect example—lived just like us, all that time, without sin. So that we can come boldly to the throne knowing that there is One who understands our troubles completely, which would not be true if he came just as an adult.

So all that to say this, the point is: just because I think my ministry is “spinning its wheels” does not mean it is without purpose.

Jesus was a baby for a purpose, though he did not spend all that time in “direct ministry,” it was still necessary to God’s plan. Sometimes I think our purpose-driven, “goal-driven” American thinking is simply that, American, not God-given. Of course having goals is a good thing, but they must not overshadow the fact that sometimes we cannot see the big picture, and God’s goals are always the best ones. One day in Heaven, we will hopefully have that 20-20 vision of “Why” this was in my life, or perhaps at that point, we won’t care one little bit :).

Muddy Feet

21 Jul

muddy-feet-HZT

Mud. There are many things in New Guinea that don’t bother me too much–power issues, dust that never ends, dishes that never end (that’s everywhere lol), spiders of unusual size in my bedroom, but Papua New Guinea mud is most definitely my worst challenge. I know mud is dirty everywhere you go, but here, in my mind anyway, it seems to have an extra layer of filth and microorganisms just waiting to get me (look up hookworms if you are interested in learning more :).

I really, really, really dislike mud here. I do walk in it when I have to, but I pray in proportion to the amount of mud before me :).

This week I found myself at a wonderful ladies’ meeting in Lae, the city of rain. As you may have guessed, there was mud, especially at the entrance of the tent for the meeting. I was wearing flip-flops because I had to take off the shoes inside. The icky water squished through my toes every time I went in and out.

Early in the week of meetings, I was half listening (honestly, thinking more about how filthy my feet, and everyone else’s feet, were from all that mud…:), really spiritual, I know, when the speaker quoted this verse, “I have washed my feet; how shall I defile them?” (Song of Sol. 5:3). I am sorry to say, I cannot remember how that verse tied into what she was saying, but the Lord used that verse just to remind me how wrong my thinking had been. Here I was, worrying over my feet, and how much mud we were tracking in, blah, blah, I had washed my feet! I didn’t want them to be dirty! Exactly! I don’t want to defile them, Lord!

And then I was reminded of the verse in Isaiah, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation.” (ok, honestly I only remembered the beautiful feet part and the good news part, but the essence was there :).

The Lord showed me that as much as I detested that mud, I should be proud to have muddy feet if it was for His sake. In God’s eyes, the feet of all those ladies in that meeting were not dirty, but beautiful. They were desiring to draw closer to our Lord and to be better testimonies for Him. Rather than being a shameful thing that my feet were muddy, it showed where I had been, in God’s house.

I wonder how often I’ve missed the blessings of God because I didn’t “want to get my feet dirty.” I wonder how many times the entrance to God’s greatest opportunities involve doing something that makes us uncomfortable and brings us to greater humility. I had been focusing on the outward- dirt on my feet in a church meeting—and missing the inward—the beauty of feet that publish the gospel of peace. 

It was like a little light had broken through that tent for me that day. God wasn’t looking at outward appearances or checking for squeaky clean toes. He was checking for squeaky clean hearts that were committed to Him no matter what.

I know one thing, after that, I actually smiled rather than cringed as I squished into the meeting. It was as if my Lord and I had a little inside joke on me :). He also gave me a different spirit, that rather than complaining, could simply enjoy and grow in Him.

I love that our God cares about the little details!

Thought for the Week: Psalms 94:17-19

1 Jun

200708045331-1797

“Unless the Lord had been my help, my soul had almost dwelt in silence. When I said, My foot slippeth; thy mercy , O Lord, held me up. In the multitude of my thoughts within me thy comforts delight my soul.”

As I read these words in my devotions, I was struck by how much they apply in today’s world. We talk so much about how busy we are in “this day and age.” Technology, entertainment, and the media bombard us from every side; it seems that days really aren’t 24 hrs. anymore. Somehow they managed to alter that too (maybe something with the “time/space continuum” :).

However, I think that perhaps we are lying to ourselves. I think that perhaps it is human nature for some of us to be “busy.” Whether we are busy with all of the above, or if we were like the pioneers, busy with just surviving the day, or like David, busy being the king of an entire nation, some of us find a way to be busy. It’s our coping mechanism sometimes, rather than deal with x, y, z problem, we clean. We prepare tomorrow’s lesson. We get out our outfit for the next day, and maybe think through the outfits for the rest of the week. We check our email, again, just in case. We are the “Martha’s” of the world.

We get so busy in fact, that we almost dwelt in silence. Even if the music or TV is blaring, somehow we can feel utterly alone with our thoughts. I mean we have so much to do! No time to be daydreaming!

That “multitude” of thoughts. Boy, can our minds race…all night sometimes about things we may not even care that much about, and yet we can’t turn it off. How wonderful that this verse reminds us that “In the multitude of my thoughts within me THY comforts delight my soul.

Delight.

Ahhhh, what a pleasant word. It makes me think of York peppermint patties. 🙂

When we have a multitude of thoughts, whether it’s worry or just thoughts, the comfort of Christ is the sure-fire cure every time. Choosing to STOP planning the rest of the century and cleaning the…everything and just letting the comforts of Christ delight your soul can revolutionize your thinking, maybe even your day. I know it does for me.

What comforts? His peace. His love. His faithfulness. His perfection. The list is endless.

Who Christ is is simply comforting. Much like a mother with her child. When things go wrong for the toddler, all he needs is mom. It’s not about what she does, it’s about who she is.

How wonderful to walk with a Savior AND a dear friend who comforts me and delights my soul in the midst of all of my busyness. 🙂

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