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In every nook and cranny

Trying to find those “just right” words to sum up my struggles and my not-so-great days. The words that reassure you that you aren’t the only one fighting the good fight, but don’t paint me as a down-in-the-dumps, joyless being. Don’t let the words in past posts fool you into thinking I have my life together; I don’t, nor have I come close to leading a well-put, orderly way of life. My hair is split at the ends, my floor needs swept, shoes are falling, disarrayed, out of my closet. I forget to answer voicemails, books are never fully read, my bed is rarely made, and I’m living a messy, messy life. But when I say messy, I’m not referring to the dust on my furniture, or the growing to-do list.

My struggles and my not-so-great days remind me that I’m nothing short of needy. Needy for a refilled cup; more Jesus. Needy for Truth; more Jesus. Needy for love, and for a push in the right direction; more Jesus. Here I sit, yet again, writing about what my missionary heart is at odds with. I have big plans, and hopes that are high enough for the both of us. Big dreams, but a bigger God.

You see, I’ve grown up in the average state of Indiana, in an average home, in a below average town. A so called “world changer” isn’t something expected to come from your every day, average. I think “world changer” and I picture a Harvard graduate with inspiring quotes painted on their walls, and a recycle bin filled to the brim. I think of someone who only eats organic food and walks from place to place, rather than burning fossil fuels by driving a car.

But changing the world and changing the world for one person are two different things. And through scripture and movies and music and books, God has set a desire in my heart to do the latter, understanding that as I carry out His will, little by little the world as a whole will be changed.

I want to be the world changer in a sun hat with sunscreen covering the brim of my nose, hauling water from a newly built well miles away. I want to hand wash clothes, find my way by candle light, and feed growing children. I want to smuggle Bibles underground where thirsting people wait to be quenched by the Living Water. I want to wash feet and hold hands. I want to enter war zones and defend innocent people with no leaders. I want to share the good news, in every nook and cranny of this earth.

I’m reminded by someone new everyday that being a missionary or a relief worker doesn’t pay, that it’s not practical. I can’t afford it, I have to have a plan, I have to think about my safety. Oh my does it pay. It pays in joy and it pays in lasting relationships. And does God call us to practicality? Or does He call us to love and to give and to serve with every ounce of what we have to offer? I can afford it, knowing that God will be quick to meet my needs as I meet the needs of someone else. I don’t have to have a plan when Jeremiah tells me God has a plan for me. The way my heart is weighted down by the burdens of others I’ve yet to meet, gives me all the assurance I need that this is His very plan for me, that I go and speak of His love all over. If I made my own plans rather than following the ones God has laid before me, who knows where I would be. Thankfully, God’s plans never seem to be affected much by my own. Safety is a touchy subject for me. Of all the things I wish people grasped, it’s that safety is never guaranteed anywhere, whether you’re in your backyard or the slums of India. Just because one place is riskier than another, the people inhabiting them all share the same needs. Each individual needs Jesus just as much as the next person, and as Romans 10:15 says, “Who will go unless they are sent?” He is sending me, please know that. Shots can ring out, doors can be knocked down, but my God will stay the same. If I were to die sharing the Gospel, I’d thank the Lord that of all the ways I could go, He blessed me with the opportunity to go serving.

No, a little dust here and there isn’t what makes my life messy. People near and dear, who I want to understand the pulling at my heart before anyone else, don’t. Satan crowding out God’s voice, growing statistics, distant lands only being pictures in my mind, not stamps on my passport. These things make my life messy, these things are what remind me that I too, am needy. By the grace of God, I’m not needy for things of this world anymore, but rather I’m needy for change in this world. I need people to understand that God isn’t ushering me into this life of discipleship only to leave me hanging. My heart has been shaped by God in a mold foreign to most. My “average” life isn’t all that average after all, but that’s the kind of change Jesus brings.

“The pain you feel in your heart over the desires God has put in you, (them being yet unfulfilled) is your gift from Him, because it causes you to wrestle with Him for the fulfillment of those desires.” – Corey Russel

I leave for Africa in 66 days, and I’m still in need of $750. If you’d like to partner with me by donating, you can donate at http://www.globalexpeditions.com/donate using my ID 2700920. I need prayer just as much as I need the funds, please consider praying for me over the next couple months as God prepares my heart. Let me know if you choose to do either, I’d like to keep you updated on things through pictures and mail. Thank you!

 

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3

Undying Love

I’m continually wrecked as I read the raw story of Gomer and Hosea. Hosea was a prophet in the old testament, Gomer was a harlot. God viewed Israel as His wife, but Israel, being split into 2 kingdoms, left Him jealous for His people. In simple terms, the southern kingdom was faithful, but the northern was swallowed in sin. The thing that grieved the heart of God more than anything else was the sin of idolatry, and the people of the northern kingdom worshipped other gods. In the same way Israel was unfaithful to God, Gomer was unfaithful to Hosea.

Gomer was robbed of joy by men day in and day out, always being quick to hand over her body to any who would take it. She was sold like an animal before being treated the same way. Men would buy expensive material things in order to lure her in, and then take advantage of her. I’m reminded by her, that this kind of life is still lived, and God continues to love us with a steadfast love. I’m reminded that the same Satan that set out to deceive her, is the same Satan that sets out to deceive us in the very same ways.

God told Hosea to find a woman of unfaithfulness, to claim her as his, and that’s exactly what he did. He took Gomer, this broken and used, only half-living woman, and put a ring on her finger. He pursued her, he loved her, he cherished her wholeheartedly. His obedience leaves me humbled by his faithfulness and willing heart. What a man. What a man that he would 1.) obey God and 2.) serve and love a woman who’s interest lied elsewhere. Gomer abandoned him and fled yet again to another lover, who put her up for auction. Hosea was the one to buy her, and continued to chase after her with a longing to bring her back to him. His devotion was poured out solely on her, as Christ’s love is poured out on each of us in the same manner. Even in His judgement, God wants to give us every opportunity to come back to Him. 

Christ bought us. Christ payed for us, and still we flee to other worldly things, captivated by deceit. But still He delights in us, still He sings and rejoices over us! Grace welcomes us back with open arms, because we read that, “His mercies are new every morning.” Here, I’m reminded that I am Gomer continually running to sin, and God is my Hosea, tenderly calling me back. Keep calling, Lord. 

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“And so let’s be done with the comparison game. Let’s be done with constantly fighting for the higher moral ground to stand on and look down on everyone else. Let’s be done with thinking we can actually earn something that is impossible to earn. Let’s stop trying to be perfect and righteous because those are not the people God is looking for. God is looking for people who can admit their needs and surrender to a Savior, because if the Bible is any indication, it doesn’t matter how messed up you are. If you love Him, He can and will use you.”

– Jefferson Bethke

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Bittersweet and Ever-Changing

I believe there’s a time in everyone’s life where we get caught up in this tangled mess of confusion, and each strand of hurt or affliction or burden gets wound together all at once. I believe we all come to a point where we feel life and living are too much to bare, and all this urgency we have inside to make things right within ourselves becomes just as heavy of a load as all the other matters we’re facing. Our thoughts become jumbled and we see things more as a fog. We have to squint to see through the obscurities in our way. We have to try extra hard to see things the way they were before. Doubt corrupts our mind, tainting our views on ourselves and what we’re capable of. We can’t tell right from wrong, or what’s the end or only the beginning of a memoir. This seemingly never ending brawl within us finally gets us where it should: on our knees in surrender. This fight is good, in the way that childbirth is good, and grief is good, and defeat is good. It hurts, and it’s tough, but joy comes in the morning. (For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.) Psalm 30:5  The desperation welling up inside is longing for a hope that will ease the suffering we face in this moment, this moment of vulnerability. And in that moment, we abandon our struggles at the altar, or the bathroom floor, or wherever we put a halt to life and break down. We cry out to the ceiling, knowing what lies far beyond it. We pray for all the heavy burden to be lifted off our weak shoulders, because when compared to our Maker, we’re just these minuscule beings with little understanding of the world. Our loving King comes to our rescue just as He said He would, lifting off the weight of this world. And my friends, if you’ve not yet been caught up in a tangled mess of confusion, where each strand of hurt or affliction or burden gets wound together all at once, don’t think for a minute that God won’t be there to deliver you. When you feel life and living is too much to bare, and all the urgency you have to make things right within yourself becomes just as heavy of a load as all the other matters you’re facing, break through the dark night and dance your way into the joyful morning. Don’t try and do it on your own, but rather call on your gracious Father in Heaven. Remember the life that you find hard to live hasn’t run it’s full course yet, and God has much more planned for you. Call on God to be the light that guides you through the fog of chaos. Call on God for truth to cast aside any doubts. Appreciate growing in the bitter you face, and all the while be overwhelmed by the sweetness of His love. We need some “bittersweet” in our life to grow. Sweet is great, and I think we’d all agree we want more of the sweet than we do the bitter, but bittersweet is courageous. The bittersweet in life is ultimately beautiful and valiant and bewildering. When put together it’s something much more deep and life-altering. And although we all reach these heavy-ladened times, we’re blessed with a divine God to carry us out.

Thank you, and God bless each of you.

-Sara

3

The Finished Work of Christ

“Because all people have sinned, they have fallen short of God’s glory. They receive God’s approval freely by an act of His kindness through the price Christ Jesus paid to set us free from sin.” Romans 3:23-24

 I think one of the biggest things that people tend to overlook is the last three words that Christ said on the Cross: “It is finished.” The work of Jesus Christ is done. Sin is dead; it has no power over us. Death is destroyed. Christ did all of the work on that cross, your chains were broken many, many years ago. You’re already free. It’s a matter of learning to walk in the confidence of your freedom. The battle is convincing your mind how free you are and seeing the beauty of grace. Because let me tell you, the chains have been broken already. You’re free to walk without heavy burdens; you don’t have to be a slave to sin. I really love Romans 6:14, “For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.” I really recommend reading Romans and absorbing all of the truth in it. Romans was written by the apostle Paul around AD 57. It took place in Corinth when Paul was on a missionary trip. This book was written to the church in Rome.

 There is guilt, and then there is conviction. Guilt does in no way come from God, but conviction does. Conviction is completely different from guilt. When we read Romans we learn that not one person can get God’s love by never messing up or sinning. “Everyone has turned away, everyone is rotten to the core, and no one does any good.” (Romans 3:10-12) Paul makes it clear in Romans that through confession and repentance, we can be free from any guilt. If you think you’re still guilty once you’ve confessed your sin, you’re only believing a lie. Jesus is our savior. He saves us from sin. He saves us from guilt. Jesus Christ came to set us free, not keep us tied down to guilt. The one who has confessed and turned from sin is no longer guilty.

 If there is a place in your life filled with guilt rather than conviction, recognize it’s a lie. If you’ve accepted Jesus as the ransom for your guilt, you aren’t guilty. Paul wanted the Romans to know they were saved by grace but still called to be holy. Same applies for us! God bless you, thanks for reading. 

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Love

I wanted to write about love tonight, it’s something we can all relate to in some way. I have so many opinions on love and relationships, and it’s fine for you to disagree! I know a lot of people have come to me asking for prayer in regards to relationships lately, and I too have the same questions most of them do. Wether you’re a teen, or an adult, love is love, and it’s just one of those confusing things that we have to deal with. It’s neat though, that despite the many problems that arise, love can be so beautiful.

I want to start out by saying God is love. I know that’s something that we hear so often, along with “Jesus loves you”. But really meditate on that when you hear it, it’s such a pure love, a love that’s so great we can’t even begin to fathom it. Bruno Mars mentions in a song that he’d catch a grenade for someone, he’d take a bullet for them, ect. and girls go crazy for him! Jesus actually does take the pain, for not just someone, but for every bit of human life on earth. He physically endured the pain and suffering of the thorns, the whips, the mocking, the words, and so on. Why are we not falling in love with that? 

Before we can love another person, we have to first find love in Christ. A relationship that isn’t God based, won’t reach it’s potential, and it’s likely to fail. Every relationship is going to have it’s problems, but if both of you are willing to pray through it together, God can save it. The love He showed us on the cross is much greater than the love we’ll find here on earth. We pray to God and tell Him we aren’t content with life, when contentment is found in Jesus Christ. Believe me, I struggle with this just as much as anyone else. Only God’s love will completely satisfy us. 

But God designed us to enjoy a kind of love that we’ll one day share with someone else. A love that lasts isn’t started by expectations; it starts with giving. Rather than look to the other person for you each to find happiness, seek to serve that other person, and then find true love. Real love respects, and stays loyal. It recognizes what the other person deserves, and strives to be that for them. Most importantly, it remains committed, even after the heart-thumping, “High on love”, feeling goes away. 

Hang in there, and above all else, guard your heart, as hard as it is sometimes. Proverbs 4:23 tells us that everything we do flows from it. Pray with me, “God, I need Your help at having an understanding heart, help me to understand real love. Please give me wisdom and strength to protect it. Help me to first find love in You. Thank You for loving me with a love that never let’s go. In Jesus Name, Amen.”

1 John 3:16 – This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us.

Thank you all for reading, God bless.