Being Stretched

Seems like God is always stretching us, asking us to do what seems impossible. Today I am sitting in Tennessee, in a clean house. I went to church and then ate brunch at Cracker Barrel. I took an afternoon nap and spent time with my family. It was a picture perfect day and yet I am restless. This move has taken more faith than anything I’ve ever done. (Yes, more faith than even moving to Mexico in the first place!)

You know it is easy to work, to stay busy for God’s kingdom, but learning to rest, now that is a different type of work. “Take a sabbatical”, God said! And here we are, trying to rest and all the while feeling like a locomotive derailed. We have run so fast and hard for so long it’s difficult to know how to rest in God’s presence. I thought I would write, but writing has not come easy. It’s not that I don’t have feelings to process, it’s just that sharing leaves you vulnerable and I’m already emotionally exhausted. I’m not ready to hear a barrage of well intended opinions about what others think we should be doing. Mexico, missions, Hope House, Honduras, living in another country with different customs and language, I am left emotionally spent. Those in aid work call it compassion fatigue; and I know I suffer from it. I’ve seen and experienced vicarious trama. The poverty, the pain, the suffering that exists in the world has taken its toll. Now God encourages us to rest, recuperate, rejuvenate, refresh, relax and be revived. But I don’t know how to do that. And so we begin a new phase of this journey called life and I’m being stretched once again by the hand of the almighty.

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The Lord’s Prayer- Amen

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For the last 7 weeks we have been looking at The Lord’s Prayer, the example He gave us on How to pray. Often we take this gem for granted, missing its depth.

Our Father- We have the wonderful privilege of calling Him father! No one in the Old Testament dared to refer to God as father. Christ bought us that glorious right.

Who art in Heaven- God is not of this world. He is all knowing, all powerful, almighty, eternal, everlasting, King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He is bigger, greater and more powerful than our enemies. Nothing stands a chance to thwart His plans. He is like nothing and no one that we know.

Hallowed Be Thy Name- His name is holy and He is worthy of all respect and honor. No one out ranks him!

Thy Kingdom Come- May His reign be established everywhere: in my life, in the world.

Thy Will Be Done- May everything happen according to His will.

On Earth As It Is In Heaven- May God reign and may His will prevail on Earth just like it does in Heaven.

Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread- All that we need for life, we ask you to provide.

Forgive Us Our Sins As We Forgive Those Who Sin Against Us- Forgive us Lord and help us show the same grace to others.

Lead Us Not Into Temptation, But Deliver Us From Evil- Lead us far from evil and temptation. Rescue us from the Evil One.

For Thine Is The Kingdom, The Power And The Glory Forever- I proclaim that you are King of the Kingdom! You have all power! All Glory is due You, now and forever more!

Praying as Jesus taught is powerful and effective. His prayer encompasses all of our needs and He alone can meet those needs. Not only can He meet our needs but He desires to meet them according to His riches in glory. This model prayer is but a tool given us by Jesus and we should not forget to use it. In doing so we invite the God of the Universe to work on our behalf.

A Little Time Away

Home Assignment, it’s a term that is new to us. After 16 years living full time on the mission field, I need a little time away. I’ve had a difficult time putting into words what I’m thinking and feeling. As I researched I came across the term “home Assignment”. (A time when missionaries return to their home country to strengthen their relationship with family, friends, and supporters. A time to further education. A time to step outside of the culture they are working and serving in and refocus to gain perspective. ) Yes that is what I need!

We have been working so hard for so long that we never stopped to breath. We ran as if in a race against time, learning language & culture; living hand to mouth, watching God do amazing things, and living under constant spiritual attack. We have been betrayed, beguiled, and belittled. My resolve isn’t what it once was. I am tired. Tired of sprinting this marathon. It is time to catch my breath.

In speaking of mission work, Karl Dahlfred wrote”…there is a certain level of culture stress that never goes away. Living day in and day out in a culture with different values, beliefs, and language than your own can create … stress. You can never fully identify or understand the people around you, nor they you.” Wow, I can identify with his statement.

I’ve passed through many stages in the years we have lived in Mexico. First we had to learn the language. After we understood the words, we had to work on comprehension. We could know every word that a person was saying and still entirely miss the meaning. Then we began to understand the nuances of the language and culture and that was even worse than not knowing. In this stage we found ourselves asking questions like, “Did he really say what I think he said?” or “Certainly I didn’t understand her correctly!” This was a frustrating season. But after many years we felt right at home in Mexico. We could communicate with others and understood the basics of situations, but as we got older there was one profound notion that began to ring true with both of us. “We will always be the outsiders, the foreigners, the ones that don’t belong!” We will never fully understand all the idiosincrasias of living in a culture not our own and we will never truly be at home there. That is a heavy burden to bear.

So we’ve come to the fork in the road and after 16 years we decided to step away an take a little time. A break from 24/7 crisis management, a break from Mexico, a break from putting out fires and struggling to live in a foreign country.

It’s strange sitting in the crisp air of the Tennessee mountains. It’s so quiet here, I hear the crickets chirp and the fish splash in the pond and I’m reassured that this is exactly where I’m supposed to be.