The Proximity of Love in the Unknown

I don’t have it all together. I’ve been having a real hard time lately. In the midst of all of the not-having-it-togetherness, God has been teaching me some pretty sweet things. For that, I am glad, and blessed. I want to share it with you, not because I am amazingly brilliant with lots to share, but just because these gifts are too sweet to keep to myself. I am sure someone else needs them too.

Jesus loves you.

A whole lot. I know, I don’t always believe it either. Even as I am typing this, I struggle to believe. Jesus loves me. Why don’t I believe? Did He not do enough to prove it to me? Was it not enough that He died to save my life, to have me near? Is it not enough that He makes the sunrise every morning? Could I imagine that my flaws and sins are stronger than the blood He shed to cover them? Could it be that my lack of loveliness is enough to ward off the strength of His immense love? No, this is not so. He is enough. His love is strong enough.

He is near.

Psalm 139:7-12

Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
    and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
    the night will shine like the day,
    for darkness is as light to you.

If it were not for His great love, His nearness would be a fearful thing, but in fact, it is wonderful. It is what gives me hope and strength. His loving nearness is the power in my bones when I feel weak.

He is near and loving in the unknown.

So I am basing this section off of Oswald Chambers’ My Utmost for His Highest, August 5th, The Baffling Call of God. It presents the idea that we can be unsuccessful in the eyes of the people around us, and be unaware of the way in which God wants to use our lives, and still fully embrace The Baffling Call of God.

I have felt like a failure many times in my life. So you can imagine my relief when I read from Oswald Chambers’ My Utmost for His Highest, “Jesus Christ’s life was an absolute failure from every standpoint but God’s. But what seemed failure from man’s standpoint was tremendous triumph from God’s, because God’s purpose is never man’s purpose.”

So even if my life seems like a total failure from man’s perspective, I am in good company. Better yet, there is hope that God sees it differently.

If it isn’t obvious from the previous paragraph, I am living in the blessed land of “What Am I Doing With My Life?!” Again, I could discuss this further, but that is not my intention for this blog. Suffice it to say, I don’t know. And the unknown is scary. To quote my good ol’ friend Oswald again, “It cannot be stated definitely what the call of God is to, because His call is to be in comradeship with Himself for His own purposes, and the test is to believe that God knows what he is after.”

His purpose for me is to be in relationship with Him. He knows what He is after, and I just have to trust Him. 

“A Christian is one who trusts the wits and the wisdom of God, and not his own wits. If we have a purpose of our own, it destroys the simplicity and the leisureliness which ought to characterize the children of God.” – Oswald Chambers

Jesus, help me to trust You. To believe in Your love. To believe You are near. And to trust that You know what You are doing with my life. I love You, my Savior. I want to love You more. You are deserving of all of me. Thank You Jesus for who You are. I praise You for You are worthy of all my trust. Your love is beyond what I can comprehend, and it is real. Thank you Jesus. May my life be marked by simplicity and leisure because I trust in You.
-Amen

Advertisements

Not Only

I watched a movie tonight, hoping to boost my spirits. My roommate’s dog joined me, lying oddly on her back staring up at my face, paws toward the sky. It turned out to be a very sad movie. Death, disease, broken promises.

Unfortunately, it seems like that’s the way life goes.  I see news article one after another concerning awful things happening around the world. How can we keep our heads up?

I looked down at this oddly lying dog as she tries to lick my face. Barely dodging her tongue, I asked her, as if she could respond, “Why is life so sad?” And she just looked up at me with her big brown eyes, as clueless as ever. I felt an answer in my spirit.

But it’s not only sad.

I know this may sound elementary, but it’s so hard to grasp. Sometimes in the darkness, we forget that light exists. It seems like it will be dark forever. For those who cannot see the light at the proverbial end of the tunnel, I have no answers, but knowing that the darkness will end is some comfort to me. It takes faith when we cannot see it, but it will end.

Revelation 21:1-5

Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

 He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

Worthy

Why is it so hard to only trust?
To let go of the list of must
The pride of life and fleshly lust
All these things that rot and rust

I believe it’s true,
No desire obtained can free you
Me. It ensnares me and scares me
Suffocates those ideals I carry.

I implore you. Each desire you succumb to has won you.
I only give in because I don’t trust Him
That He is worthy and He makes me worthy
You win me. Jesus, You win me.

Remind me daily,
Of the grace that makes me
Worthy.

Steal My Gaze

From now until forevermore,
May I always love You more
Than all the sand on the shore
Than all the ones I hold dear
I want to love You here
In all the places I lay my head
Upon every ground I step.
I want to speak Your praise,
Louder than any song on my lips,
Thought in my mind or spoken phrase.
Let the depths of my soul be set ablaze
With the fire of Your holy name,
And nothing else ever steal my gaze.

Listen

If I could call You on the phone,
I think I would just listen.
If I understood how well You hear,
and know even every unspoken prayer

I would not say a word.
But I would wait for You to speak.
And I would listen.
God help me to listen.

 

Esiteri and the Red Earth

A few updates:

We made it safely to Bamako!

We started language classes. I am amazed at how far God has taken me. Growing up, I could barely open my mouth because of fear to talk to a stranger in my own language. Now, I am going out on a limb speaking to people, risking failure, in a language completely foreign to me.

Our hosts have a small television, and the Africa Cup (soccer precursor to the World Cup) is a big deal. Let’s just say that when the Mali team scored, I swear that I heard the whole city erupt in cheering.

We have been given our new names to make pronunciation for the Malians easier. My new name is Esther, except when they say it, it sounds like “Estare,” and they spell it like “Esiteri.” I like it quite a bit. I think I may try to study the book of Esther while I am here.

Thank you so much for your prayers! We have been very blessed so far, and the team is bonding well.

I really enjoy this way of life. Though the simple things take more effort, I feel more at peace and happier.  My emotions go up and down like a roller coaster. I suppose this is normal. To ease my aching heart, I try to be glad in having memories of family and friends to hold on to when I cannot hold on to the people themselves.

I am sure we have made plenty of cultural mistakes even in these first few days, but they are gracious with us. In a way, they have adopted us into their family while we are here. They have even given us the honor of introducing ourselves with their last names.

We went to the post office today to mail letters. It took about two or three taxis and almost two hours to complete the task. Unfortunately, it looks as though we will not make that trip too often. I wish this were not so, but such difficulties come with the territory. I will still try to write, but so much rests in uncertainty. It also looks like Skype won’t happen until the end of February most likely.

The days pass by unannounced. There are no warnings, dramatic conclusions, or credits scrolling past on a screen accompanied by some fitting theme music (though, from time to time, Valerie does play soundtracks from various films.) We are here. And though I knew it would be true, it has not hit me until now that we are here to live. This is life for us now. This is the norm.

We wake up, or at least we try to wake up at 7 or 7:30 in the morning. By this time, the Malians have most likely been awake for about two hours. While I lay in bed, I am awoken by the sound of the morning call to prayer, a rooster’s crow, or the sound of the women doing their chores.

Breakfast is generally at 8 am. Before this, one of the women will usually ask if we want to take a shower. If we answer affirmatively, they go about the work of heating water and filling our buckets. We take the bucket into a shower room and splash ourselves to our heart’s content. This room has no roof and the drain goes out through the wall.

After breakfast, we usually have class to learn Bambara. Ton ton Sako is a wonderful teacher. He says that we are learning quickly. Class is about three hours long. Then we have lunch. All the food is so good.

In the afternoon, we rest and have tea. Depending on the day, we will do different things, like go to the market or play with the children.

Stress comes without warning. It can be a culmination of things – language is one of those things. I find comfort in knowing that God knows and understands my language. He also knows and understands the Malians. I pray that when we fail, He could bring understanding to both of us.

We are all missing our loved ones, but God is faithful still. Personalities sometimes clash, but we are not in the business of giving up on being at peace with each other.

Thank you for your prayers!

To the HEART… again

Me and my team of six are making our way to Mali, with a three week training at the HEART Institute.

Yes, this is where I studied and lived for the past four months. It’s like coming home for me. The air is a little bit colder. I feel slightly older, bolder. Ask me why? I’ll shrug my shoulder.

Okay, I’m done for now. I’m out of clever rhymes. But really, I have high hopes for my Mali team. We’ve been getting along well and shared many a hearty laugh. Keep us in your prayers! Pray for continued and increased unity among us, for love and peace to abound. 

My expectations for Mali:

I expect to be thoroughly challenged, to meet my inadequacy, look it in the face, full of fear, hope, and courage, to see my God show Himself to be completely able to handle all that Africa can throw at me. 

Two more weeks at HEART and we sprout wings and fly. Layover in Paris, then Mali!