Thursday, October 2, 2008

Life Right Now

It's not that unusual for me to be an inconsistent blogger and I'm not apologizing for it, but I'll explain where I've been the last couple of weeks. Joel was in Africa all last week, and I'm too easily-frightened to announce to the (unknown) internet world when I'm home alone like that. But it was quite a week for me. I learned SO much, and I'm still processing it all this week. Joel went along with our missions pastor at our church to Mombasa, Kenya and taught at a pastors conference where over a hundred pastors from all over Kenya came to learn and get training. It was an incredible time for him...he's still processing through it all and sharing little bits of it here and there, but I think the highlights for him were gaining a first-hand perspective on what life and culture is like in another part of the world like that and seeing their needs, experiencing in a big way real dependence on the Holy Spirit to give him words to say as he taught, and having a significant conversation, in which he shared his faith, with another traveler in the airport who doesn't know Christ. This was his first mission trip to take, and he really loved the experience. It was all good. I knew it would be.

Then why did I dread it so much?!

I'll tell you why. I'm a selfish person who gets easily distracted from choosing to have God's perspective on things. I don't like feeling left out. And I don't like releasing "control" of the care of those I love. Like I have any control whatsoever. What a joke.

So while I said I was happy for him being able to go to Africa and experience this, I only half-meant it. I pretty much had been dreading the week he'd be gone ever since I knew about the trip last spring. I pushed it out of my mind because the truth is, I was really struggling with it all...him being able to go and me not being able to go. And I knew that at some point I'd have to face it and deal with this struggle head-on. And we all know how fun that can be. I needed to really express my emotions to the Lord, seek His perspective, and let go of this resentment inside of me. I just waited and waited to do it until I had to. Never a good plan, by the way. A lot of life gets wasted when you wait to do what God wants. A LOT.

So a few days before he left, I talked for the first time about how I was feeling to my friend Holly. She's one of those friends who speaks truth into your life, and in doing it, she's extremely bold and humble at the same time. I love it! As I was whining about the fact that I wasn't getting to join Joel on his first mission adventure that we began talking a few years ago about doing together...and how left out I felt, she directly said to me, "God has this week for Joel. But He has this week for you too. He has good things planned for you this week that you can only receive as you are at home by yourself and not in Africa. This week is for you too." Such simple truth. And I so needed to hear it. Badly. I realized in an instant that I had started to believe something about God's character that just isn't true. I didn't consciously think I was doing this, but I was living like God had overlooked me. Like He was making me suffer. Like He wasn't sovereign. Or like I just didn't appreciate His sovereign choices. Instead of living like He loved me and ordained specific plans just for me. Beautiful plans. And like He wanted to draw me to Him. And keep my attention for awhile. And teach me things. And I'm so glad I chose that day to seek His perspective on the week. I'm so thankful He redirected my thoughts. I made a decision that I was going to live the week abundantly and every day seek out what He had for me.

And it was an amazing week. A focused week. I need to have more of those. The reading for the week from that book I mentioned, Devotional Classics, was from John Baillie's Book of Prayers, and it was a segment called "Morning Prayers." He wrote different prayers to be prayed at the start of every day for a week, and it was such a good practice for me. Because I reserve my Bible study for later in the day when my kids are sleeping, it is easy to go through half the day or more before ever really focusing my mind on practicing the presence of God and inviting the Holy Spirit in. So having something to do each morning, even short and simple, to help my perspective get there, was very helpful and it's something I need to commit to every week even when John Baillie isn't leading me there! So that is probably one of the reasons why it was such a good week in spite of being so hard. And in having a week where I slowed down, spent more time alone, and made myself deal with my sad feelings, I spent more time at the feet of Jesus than I had in a while. And the Lord sure is sweet to us when we are in that place. He overwhelmed me with His love and totally convinced me that I was never supposed to go to Africa this time and there is a reason why Joel had to go himself. I don't understand all of it, but I'll share what I do know:

You see, I have long had a passion for missions, but it's been put on the shelf for a few years. I'm not talking about missions in general but specific foreign-related opportunities. I've traveled and then I decided I didn't need to do that for a while. I wanted to live that purposefully-missions-oriented right where I am before I go somewhere else to be that way. So I took a "break" for a few years, but in the last couple of years, my desire to go somewhere and make missions a bigger priority in my life has grown tremendously. And I just haven't quite known what to do with that. I mean, we're here. Our life is here. Our work and ministry is here. What God has for us is here. So how do I go there? I don't. So what do I do with that desire that is believed to be God-given? I wait.

It hasn't been a hard wait. I rather like life here, so I haven't felt like it's been empty or anything is missing or wrong. I've just had this underlying feeling that one day there would be a new dimension to our lives, one that includes more of an interest and investment in what's there instead of just here. Whatever that might look like. I have ideas as to what I want that to look like, but I have no reason to believe it's what God has in store for me or my family. So I try not to think about that much. I just definitely feel a big draw towards a lot of things God is doing in other places and I certainly am "itching" to go on some trips!

So, here I am...trying to conclude this post. Been trying for days. But I'm still thinking through a lot of this, so this is all I've got so far. I'm learning a lot about prayer through this experience, learning to trust God to accomplish the desires that He's placed in my heart. And there's been a huge element of learning the freedom that comes with recognizing that GOD is the one who ignites my husband's passion for this...NOT ME....that I don't have to be in Africa with him for him to hear from the Lord on this. Big lesson for me! And I've been reminded that the Lord is big enough to work out all of this without me even knowing a bit of it beforehand. week not being in Africa turned out pretty beautifully. Even for me too.


Kate said...

Love hearing your heart! I'm going to call you tomorrow.

Christa said...

This Sunday Chad Hollowell spoke at the church and attempted to do some fundraising. I just cried when he showed the short video about what they had been a part of in India and what they are now doing in Hungary. God is so good and He is moving all over the world. It is really amazing to hear about and so encouraging. We had a speaker this last week in Perspectives that concluded by saying that this is a very exciting time to be alive in relation to what God is doing, if we will just join in more readily! Oh, I want that! I know you do too, thanks for sharing your heart. I really enjoyed hanging out at your house a while back. Thanks for pushing us to get uncomfortable. I need that kind of support in my life! We need to do it again sometime. I would love to actually spend some time in prayer together to.

Marci said...

I totally understand how you feel. I sort of felt that when Jeff went on mission trips two summers in a row while I stayed home.

I finally realized HE needed those trips. He came back stronger and he needed to do it without me there. They have been life changing for him and for our family.

I am glad he has done it ahead of us. We will do missions again and hopefully as a family. I am glad he has been there and will know how to LEAD us through it when our time comes.

Courtney said...

I totally get what you were feeling prior to your wise friend, Holly, sharing a lot of truth. Jeff "gets to go" each summer on a mission trip and I "have to" stay home was always how I felt about it...thanks for the perspective change and wisdom...from one ministry wife to another! :)

hope you are well