Sunday, June 24, 2012

Stories From South America

Nick and Danielle are back from South America!
Here are some quick sketches from the mountain villages of Ecuador:

There was an 8 year old boy who received medical care from the clinic after school. They wanted to give him medication to help with his fever, but the medicine would make him drowsy and he needed to walk two hours in order to get home. He walks two hours to school and two hours back daily. They go to school from seven to one so the school won’t have to feed them lunch.

Nick saw a five year old boy take his toddler sister in for medical care. No one knew where the mom was.

Danielle loved playing with the children. She played many of the games we loved as kids--Red Rover, Duck, Duck Goose, and piggy back riding. One mother came to get her daughter and she thanked Danielle for playing with her.  She said she had never seen her daughter smile before that day. The little girl was about three.

Nick said the adults never smile. Their lives are hard. Most people are hungry. Nick said they live in pain daily and struggle to survive.

After hearing stories like those, it sure makes this American life I live look pretty good. It was convicting to me because the last two years of my life have seemed hard to me. I don’t like it that I hurt most days and often have a hard time getting out of bed.  These stories remind me that I live a life those people would never dream about.

I love the Lord SO MUCH. I was talking to Him about all of this and of course expected some great chastisement.  But this is what I felt like I heard:  Pain is pain. He looks down on the pain in the world and He cares. He cares about it all. He cares deeply. He cares about the pain the villagers feel and he cares about the pain I feel.  He’s never going to stop caring. It’s good to be grateful for all I have and realize that I have it much better than most of the world. But that doesn’t mean God doesn’t care about me. He doesn’t belittle any of our struggles. Whatever you are going through.....God cares about you. He wants to meet us all  in our need and touch our hearts. He wants to be there for us and show us his love. 

It was delightful to hear about the large number of people who gave their lives to Christ during this mission trip and who will receive follow-up from local pastors. In the midst of such difficulty, Jesus can be their comfort and the answer in the midst of their desperate need. He is my hero. 

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Caught Being a Skeptic

I don’t think of myself as a skeptic. I've seen miracles. I’ve shared stories of miracles I've experienced on this blog. So actually, I think of myself as a faith-filled believer. Someone who believes this verse in Matthew:

Matthew 17:20 (NIV)
Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

But I got caught being a skeptic today and it shamed me. My husband and daughter are in South America doing medical missionary work right now. I miss them terribly but they are having an amazing time. I’ve been getting email and I actually got a call today! One of things they are doing is distributing shoes and socks to very poor people who don’t own any. They brought over a 1000 pairs to give out. It was the email about work at the “shoe clinic” that tripped me up. This is the story they told:

Today they ran out of shoes in a boys shoe size that is in high demand. Not knowing what to do, they focused on fitting shoes for girls until lunch. They went to lunch, and when they came back there were more shoes in that critical size for boys.  They had witnessed a miracle. When I heard that, the first thought I had was, “Yea right. What did they do, just forget they had shoes in that size in another box somewhere?”  I hadn’t let the thought simmer too long before conviction hit. I know these people. They are rational, hardworking people of faith.  If they were out of a shoe they would search until they knew there were no more. They certainly wouldn’t claim a miracle if there wasn’t one and it was just a matter of misplacing some shoes. 

Why was it SO hard for me to believe the truth? There are probably over 20 people praying for this trip regularly. It’s been soaked in prayer. Why don’t I expect God to move powerfully? This sort of thing happens in the Bible all the time. Jesus even said to the disciples,

John 14:12 (NIV)
Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.

In my rational, logical American mind, do I refuse to see the truth before me?  Dear God, help me to see the world the way you see it, as full of possibilities; full of your moving and your works.  Help me to see you as a God of miracles.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Choose What is Better

If you have God, you have it all. If you pick Him, you get the best of everything. Live in His presence and you have chosen the better portion.

Luke 10:38-42
As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

This is what I’ve been thinking about. I want a greater portion of the Lord’s presence in my life. I want more of what cannot be taken from me. I let my heart become filled with worries that distract me from just resting in the Lord’s presence.  This scripture is clear that He WANTS us to sit with him. He WANTs us to choose Him, to choose what is better.  To be filled with peace regardless of the chaos.  FEW THINGS ARE NEEDED….

Dear Lord, please help me learn to believe this truth, that few things are needed, or indeed only one….and that’s you yourself.  

Dear Lord, I pray that your presence fills the hearts of the people who read this blog. I pray that your spirit moves in their lives and draws them to you. I pray that they would know you better, Lord. I pray that your will prevails in their lives. Let them choose the better portion….let them choose you. Let us all choose you.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Not a Secret Identity, but a True Identity

On Thursday night my husband and I, our two kids and two friends crammed into our crew cab truck and drove to Spokane to listen to a speaker named Graham Cooke. The fact that I stayed up until midnight is an even bigger indicator of my determination to see in the flesh someone whose sermons had impacted my thinking so greatly over the years.

I was not disappointed. It wasn’t flashy but it was truth.  And it was truth I needed to hear. Graham contrasted the way we see ourselves versus the way God sees us.  We are so prone to focus on our weaknesses, failures, sin. We stare at all of that garbage and are sure God sees us that way as well, maybe even worse because, after all, He’s perfect.  What Graham said was that Jesus’ blood covers all of those sins. He paid for those sins. So when heaven looks at us, we are seen without all the garbage. We are seen as we truly are--the person God had created us to be.

Are we in touch with that person? Do we know the person whom God sees? Do we know the person we were created to be, or are we stuck looking in the mirror at something God isn’t focusing on at all?  He went on to talk about how to connect with the vision that God has for us.  Do you have a verse that you feel is “your verse”? You might call it a life verse. Or maybe someone has spoken this verse over you. He suggested that we take that verse and meditate on it. Pray over it. Talk to God about it.  Ask Him to show you how this verse is connected to your true identity in Him. It’s a cool idea, isn't it, having an identity not marred by sin, one ordained by God? The thought that God has a destiny and purpose I am uniquely designed for is inspiring to me! It makes me want to push forward.  One of my “life verses” is Isaiah 61. I’ve been reading it every night before I go to bed, asking God to show me who I am that gets so stirred every time I read it.

One other exciting thing Graham said was that our trials and struggles are tailor made to help us on the road to the person God sees.  It made me think of the difficult spring I’ve had in a whole new light. Lord, what do you see in me that would grow through those trials? What in Isaiah 61 speaks to the spring I’ve had?  Below is one verse from that chapter that I know I learned something about this spring!

Isaiah 61:3
To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”