Through it All

As a missionary I have come to understand a little of what the Apostle Paul referred to in 2 Corinthians when he penned, “Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. (2 Corinthians 4:16 ESV) Physically and emotionally I am spent, but spiritually I am much stronger than I was before becoming a missionary.

Our time south of the border has been characterized by hardship and challenges. It seems like we experienced a steady 16 year downpour of them. Friday’s devistating storm in Ixtlahuacan de los Membrillo (where Hope House is located) served to remind me just how raw hardship is there. It comes in waves often so violent that you can barely catch your breath before being pelted with another wave of difficulty. In those storms, there is One who stands ready to rescue us.

When life is easy, we often drift away from God, but when life is characterized by difficulties they can propel us toward Christ. Because of the hardships I experienced while on the mission field, I learned to trust the Lord in ways I never would have otherwise. Honestly there was no other way. No one to turn to but God and so we were forced to draw near to Him, to seek His council and guidance, through it all.

The Father of Modern Gospel, Andre Crous’s song “Through it All”, speaks of this truth. He sings: “I’ve had many tears and sorrows,

I’ve had questions for tomorrow,

there’s been times I didn’t know right from wrong.

But in every situation,

God gave me blessed consolation,

that my trials come to only make me strong.

Through it all,

through it all,

I’ve learned to trust in Jesus,

I’ve learned to trust in God.

Through it all,

through it all,

I’ve learned to depend upon His Word.”

Now stateside, our trials are different, but I am drawing from my years of experience trusting in Jesus and know that through it all, God is faithful and cares about even the smallest details of life.

(Friday night around midnight a massive hail storm reeks havoc in the town where Hope House is located. Baseball size hail fell for about 2 hours straight. Hope House sustained considerable damage to its facility. Fortunately no one was hurt. A couple blocks from Hope House a friend’s vehicles were severely damaged with all the windows and windshield being shattered.Please pray for Hope House and the towns people as they seek to repair and recuperate from the devastation.)

Forever Changed

Three mornings a week all 6 of us load into the car and head to the gym. It’s a family activity that we all enjoy. It’s safe to say that we are the only family of six that goes to the gym together. We make quite the entrance when we walk through the door. On Friday a week ago, we piled into the car heading home after working out. The girls were in the back talking and laughing, I was in the passenger seat, talking on the cell with my mom and Rodney was driving. It was a typical morning as we drove two short miles home. Then in a moment we came around the curve and the car in the opposite lane began to drift into our lane. On that one lane country road, there was no where for us to go! I yelled and Rodney blasted the horn and floored the accelerator, while swerving the best he could while trying not to run off the road. It’s amazing how easily life can be forever changed!

Fortunately, by the grace of God the oncoming driver noticed and began to correct his path. He literally came within inches of hitting us head on. I really don’t know how we managed to escape with our lives, much less unharmed! I have thought a lot about those few quick seconds this week. I am awed and grateful to have my life and my family. I am so very thankful for God’s protection, because in a split second our life could have been forever changed.

Thank you to all of our friends who pray for us. We know your prayers make a difference!!

Censored

You get the censored version of my life. Oh there are things I force myself to share openly and other things I keep to myself. Some parts of missionary life are just to difficult to share with anyone who has not experienced them. They seem to me like a heavy weight. So I talk freely with friends who similarly struggle and I put on a smile for you. The problem is, I’ve never been good at wearing masks. My face betrays me every time!

This week I’m restless. I just returned from Mexico. I know the games that they play in the culture, and I’m uneasy. I keep telling myself to not worry and to present my requests to God. I know the drill. But sometimes scripture is easier said than done. And taking my thoughts captive, at times is like trying to restrain the wind…impossible.

Prayer:

Lord, help me as I wrestle with these thoughts and feelings, emotions that only you truly understand. Help me to overcome these concerns and give them to you to carry, for they are too heavy for my heart.

The Point

“I feel like there is something left undone!”

That’s the whole point of a sabbatical. Doing nothing, learning to rest in His presence. But like most people, I’m not good at doing that. So far I’ve been busy with administrative work for the ministry. Things that have gone undone because we were so busy meeting needs and putting out fires that we never got around to them. Then there is the day to day practical side of ministry. Is there enough money to feed the boys, pay the staff? How do we get money efficiently to Hope House without us in Mexico? Will people continue to support Hope House if we aren’t there? Will people continue to support our family if we aren’t in Mexico? What about the outreach teams we have scheduled for this summer, how will that workout with me in the States? There are endless questions that need resolution… so I work.

But work is not the point of sabbath! Rest instead of business, peace over worry and frustration, refreshment rather than exhaustion, that is what should characterize this time.

As we prepared for this sabbatical I went through a sabbatical preperation guide that compared taking a sabbatical to getting off a major interstate. It suggested that we needed an off ramp before beginning sabbatical and an acceleration lane at the end. These lanes will help the transition from full-time ministry to rest and then back again to full-time ministry.

I’ve found that even if we had not planned it, the off ramp found its way into our daily routine. There has been so much to do upon arrival in the states. We’re a few months in and we’re just starting to get to a place where we can rest.

I’ve been pondering sabbath rest when I read a blog by fellow missionary and friend Isaiah Cory entitled, “Rest Like It’s Your Job”

(http://www.shepherds-heart-ministries.org/single-post/2018/05/19/Rest-Like-Its-Your-Job)

Isaiah’s words encouraged me that this sabbatical is not only important, but needed as part of my job. Sabbatical is necessary to rest securely in the Lord’s protective care and to be refreshed and alert to give our best to the Lird’s work. It reminds me that Psalm 23 is the embodiment of sabbatical.

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever. – Psalms 23

Prayer:

Lord as I set aside sabbath time, help me to learn to rest in You. Help me to see this sabbatical as a necessary part of my work. Help me to “rest like it’s my job!” Thank you for taking care of all of the ministry details and thank you for taking care of us.