Tuesday, July 23, 2013

One Week!

One week. One week from today I'll be on a plane, and one week from tomorrow I'll be in the Philippines! Time is flying by. This will be a week of last minute details, packing, and... goodbyes. Goodbyes are hard. I know in my head that they're really only "see-you-laters", but still, never having been away from home for so long, it definitely feels like goodbye. God has blessed me with a wonderful community, deep, Christ-centered friendships, and a family I love dearly. I've already had several "lasts"- my last day with an elderly lady I help weekly, my last day nannying, my last CYT rehearsal visit... each one has brought a bit of an ache, and I know that the goodbyes looming ahead are definitely going to hurt.

Still, it's bittersweet, for the God who has given me each of those relationships and given such sweetness to each one of them is the God who is moving me forward; the God who is going with me. I know it's going to be hard, I know it's going to hurt, I know there will be challenges and that I'll be stretched beyond anything I've ever experienced, my comfort zone left behind on the other side of the world, but there is a part of me that is eager. God is leading, and I want to follow. I know in my head that He is truly sufficient- all I could ever need- and now I have a chance to know it in my heart in a way I never have before. A few weeks ago I re-watched this video made by the Talbots; the family I'm going to help. I don't know how to describe it exactly, but watching it changed something in me. All along I've been saying "It's going to be an adventure", but for the first time, I truly felt it.

So how am I feeling now? A bit overwhelmed, a bit sad... but also undeniably excited! God has given me a peace that surpasses understanding; a peace I never even imagined possible. I know myself, I know how I respond to things, and I know this peace and excitement is only because of Him, and an answer to the prayers of many (you know who you are- thank you!) I see my own inadequacy in every area, but though I am small, I serve a powerful God who has promised never to leave me or forsake me, and who has promised to equip me for all He calls me to do. He has never been anything but faithful, and He doesn't change!

Please pray that my eyes would be on Him through this next week, and that He would prepare me for the months ahead. Pray that He'll give me wisdom and peace in every challenge both here and there, and please join me in praying for the Talbots and the Ga'dang people- the people I'll be with soon! 

Monday, July 8, 2013

Dear Somebody

Dear Somebody,

I know that when you look at me getting ready to go to the Philippines, it makes you secretly uncomfortable, and wakes hidden fear. Though you may or may not say it, or even realize it, you are afraid that God will call you to do something similar, and that if you give control of your life to Him, you will end up on the other side of the world away from everything comfortable and familiar. How do I know? Because for so long, that was me. I would read the stories of Amy Carmichael, Jackie Pullinger, or Katie Davis, (not that I would ever put my little trip on that level, mind you!!) and while I would admire their willingness to follow Christ wherever He led, I would inwardly tremble, lest He should call me to a similar path. It's not that I didn't want to live my life to serve Him, it's just that I was afraid He would call me to THAT. I didn't know what THAT might be exactly, but I knew THAT would be painful, hard, and require great sacrifice. The call to go to the Philippines came at the end of a battle to surrender and be willing to go- a battle which had filled the previous several months. I wish I could say that I responded to His voice with instant obedience, but I didn't. He was faithful to bring me to a place of willingness, but it was a fight to get there. My fleshly desire is to stay here where things are familiar and comfortable, and the idea of saying goodbye to those I love dearly for so long is painful. But you know what I realized? As I clung to things and people dear to me, in reality I was holding my own chains. My fear of surrender wasn't keeping me safe, it was keeping me enslaved.  Freedom and peace came only when I finally let go.

Surrender to His call doesn't automatically mean that you will end up on the other side of the world. It does mean that your wants and desires are in submission to His will and His purpose, which means sacrifice. How can someone do that? I am seeing more and more that it is absolutely impossible apart from knowing Him. For goodness sake, you wouldn't leave your purse or wallet in the care of someone you didn't know. How can you give over control of everything to Someone you don't know? Trusting comes only through knowing, which comes only through spending time with someone. As we grow to know Him, the following two things will transform our perspective on surrender.

The first is that God is good. Whether His call takes you somewhere far away, or only down the street, He loves you, and He goes with you. He isn't harsh or unfeeling. His call is not only for His glory, but for our good. Life is hard; you can't escape that. It's part of living in a fallen world. But though the path is not an easy one, He is with us every step of the way- leading, guiding, upholding. (John 16:33) In trusting Him, you are entrusting yourself to the One who knows you intimately, yet loved you enough to die for you. He isn't forcing us to be without something we need; He wants us to be free to find life in Himself- the only One who could ever satisfy.

The second is that God is Lord, our King, and we are His. He is worthy of our worship and obedience. Even if He weren't good, and hadn't given His own life for us, He would be fully worthy of our all. How much more when He has! God is exalted on the throne of heaven. His greatness is infinitely beyond our ability to grasp. He created us for Himself, for His purposes. We are not our own, we are bought with the blood of Christ. When we truly understand the incomprehensible majesty and authority of the One we serve, we can't possibly make another choice. In Isaiah 6, when Isaiah sees God in all His glory, his response was "Here I am! Send me." (v 8) That should be our response as well.

Goodness knows I haven't (and don't) live this perfectly, but speaking as one who walked in fear for so long, freedom comes only from letting go and clinging to Him only. Jim Elliot once said, "God always gives His best to those who leave the choice to Him." There are specific areas in my life where I have so clearly seen this to be true. In other areas I may not yet see how things are His best, but I trust that they are, because I trust Him. Psalm 37:4 says, "Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart." That means that the more I delight in Him, the more what I desire lines up with what He wants for me. He knows me better than I know myself, and His plan is infinitely better than mine. Surrender seems scary, but when you fix your eyes on Him rather than the cost, it becomes beautiful instead.

I wrote this letter to Somebody, and I don't know who that Somebody is, but if it's you, know that I'm praying for you!