Last Wednesday night, I was spending some time reading, praying, etc. when I drifted to sleep, and for a moment, saw the face of Ammu. It brightened my day to see her in South Africa, and it gave me so much joy to see her again in my dream! The dream consisted of simply seeing her face once more; it contained nothing else, but it didn't have to. Seeing her face again was more than I could ever deserve.
It reminded me of Ammu seated on my lap during the following memory written in a previous blog:
"There's less than a week left before I leave, and there's still so much that needs to be done here! It's been wonderful to be in Soshanguve. It's been wonderful to love hurting people, and to see so much love returned.
I have to admit that I'm not looking forward to the day when I have to come back to the American reality. I'll be returning to comfort, to safety, to family, and to my home, but I'll be leaving behind so many people I've grown to love here. So many children are fatherless here, as I've shared with you before. After seeing my interaction with one little fatherless girl of 5, Ammu, another girl asked me if I was her father. When I replied that I was not, she asked if I loved Ammu like a father. I replied that I did love her (which was lost in translation as a full affirmation), and she asked if I could love herself as a father as well."
I weep as I write.
I may be safe now. I may be living with a family that loves me on their own private island.
I may eat the choicest of foods and have access to a reliable car to drive and gas to put in it.
I may not have had the best food in the poor black township of Soshanguve. I may not have been considered safe by the rest of the world. I may not have been living with a family that I knew. I may have walked a lot and used taxis that the vast majority of white people in the country consider highly unsafe. My room may not have had a ceiling and there may have been rats in the house, including one a foot or two away from my face on one occasion when I woke up from sleeping.
None of the luxuries of home can compare to the dream of Ammu, the smiling face of an orphan who loved me like the father she never had.
I love missions. I always have. I am in VA though now. God's will is better than mine. He knows what He's doing. Still, I don't like where God has had me for the past few months. I'd rather be with an Innerchange team in South Africa or Cambodia, living in poverty yet experiencing so much joy as the love of God overflows as I serve the physically, spiritually, and emotionally hurting. What I too often forget is that the Lord has me in VA right here, right now, for a reason.
I looked at "My Utmost for His Highest" devotions (http://utmost.org) from January 24th-26th, which spoke to me as well. Chambers states, "you are to have no end, no aim, and no purpose but Mine (24th)." "Do not look for God to come in a particular way, but do look for Him...Keep your life so constantly in touch with God that His surprising power can break through at any point." I wanted God to lead me MY way, to send me off to be with the poor for a long time. "Every time we lose ground in our fellowship with God, it is because we have disrespectfully thought that we knew better than Jesus Christ...Many of us refuse to grow where God plants us...Consecration is the act of continually separating myself from everything except that which God has appointed me to do. It is not a one-time experience but an ongoing process. Am I continually separating myself and looking to God every day of my life (26th)?"
After this dream, worship and the sermon at Wave Church in VA Beach encouraged me as well. The speaker highlighted that change in our lives and our walk is possible, when I have been so full of condemnation at my inability to progress much amidst the geographical placement and ministry I am involved in now. He spoke about Moses and the burning bush in Exodus 3. Moses was insecure about the calling of God on His life, and didn't want to accept it. He had murdered a man in cold blood, and may have had a speech impediment. He didn't feel equipped to lead the Hebrews out of slavery. The speaker highlighted how "change hinges on who Jesus is, not who you were." "Insecurity will overestimate the size of your problem and underestimate the size of your God." He closed with 2 Corinthians 5:17, focusing on being in Christ:
17Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.
Abiding in Christ, He can overcome in us that which we could never defeat on our own.
I have been so dissatisfied at my life in the past few months, much of which has been due to my many failures amidst such an easy, physically blessed and comfortable lifestyle. I wonder how I can effectively serve the Lord in the physically hard places if I can't serve the Lord well in the physically comfortable places.
I often find myself drifting to dissatisfaction at my existence due to my daily failures, but we know that God doesn't look at us through the lens of our failures, but through the blood of Jesus (Isaiah 61:10). Also, how can any of us not be satisfied when we consider the massive degree of grace lavished on each and every one of us? The life of our Creator was given on our behalf! Our God is with the called forever! Even a moment in His presence would be more than we could ever deserve and worth far more than a lifetime of praise!
God doesn't love me for the good things I do! It's not MY performance that allows me access to His presence in this life or the next; it was His performance on a cross! My fallen performance can never merit His love, so I need to stop treating myself like it can!
Please, keep reminding me of the joy that should erupt from our lives as we live with a God who loves us infinitely, no matter our inadequacy, foolishness, and sin.
Blessed be the name of the Lord, who knew our sins before we were born, yet who took on flesh so that He could shed His blood and die for the blemishes that would have kept us apart from Him forever. He is not disgusted by us even amidst the vomit of sin (Proverbs 26:11, Romans 5:6-8); His love remains even then.
Even while He was being crucified, in Luke 23:34 "Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
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