Friday, June 17, 2011

I am a grouchy toddler at heart...

Tuesday and Wednesday of this past week, I went to Emerald Hills to cook for a group of people who were taking the Kairos course - and the folks who were facilitating it. I only had 2 meals to cook, 2 lunches, and I was able to prepare most of the ingredients before coming out - over the weekend.

I've cooked for much larger groups in my life - there were only 35 people or so - and I've cooked up to 350 at a kids camp in the past! I knew that I had a handle on the preparation, and felt comfortable in the kitchen even if it was my first time there. It was a friendly place and people were so appreciative! All in all the experience was great.

But when it was all said and done, I was POOPED! I felt that I rested well before coming out (although the previous 2 weekends were REALLY crazy busy, so I was running on reserves before ever making the 2+ hour drive out there). And really, I had forgotten how hard cleaning up was!! That sounds funny, but I had always had a team of people, and always including guys, to help with scrubbing pots and washing dishes. That's what really wore me out.

At the end of day 1 I was tired. At the end of day 2 I was EXHAUSTED. I felt emotional, upset, angry, tired, name it. I felt like I was 2 years old, and no one could fix it. I made it home ok, and walked in the door, unloaded the car and started putting things away. It was all I could do to keep moving in forward motion....I couldn't lay down since we had Bible study in just an hour. When my husband came home from work, he kept asking me if I was mad at him, or mad at someone else, or if anything bad happened. Nope. Nope.  Nope. Just needed to work it out, get through it all. I'd be ok if I could just make it to the morning with a goodnight's sleep...I was really loopy.

To top it off, I had been praying for clarity on an upcoming trip with church to bless some of our workers in the field. Being this tired made me say "no" to everything. Let me rephrase this....I was saying "NO!!" to everything, like a 2 year old. Looking at this trip, if I should go, could go, if I could be a blessing to serve others there - all I saw was "NO!!" on my wall. I was physically weak, worn out - how could I survive traveling to the other side of the world and have a short period of a few days to rebound, be fruitful, and leave a wake of blessings behind me on a whirlwind trip. I played the game of "if You want me to go God, then the next song on the radio will be about missions"  - but it never was, and I became even more emotional over the prospect of the answer being "no" and that He didn't want me to go on this trip, yet all I heard as reasons for me not going were based on my own weakness and superstitions. I never heard His voice say "NO",  I only heard my own toddler voice echoing inside my brain.

Bible study went well, finishing up Ephesians 1, and my heart quickened at the thought of us having access to the power of Jesus' resurrection; how few times I have asked for that power...or have heard others ask for it. I needed resurrecting from these tired bones.

I made it to sleep easily, but I woke up and felt that same burden of "NO" on my shoulders. OK God...You can make this work. You can take these feelings of oppression away. You can restore me and give me clarity of mind....You can resurrect these old bones. I broke open my cell phone and started to do my devotion...Acts 2..powerful words to the church. I still felt no peace, and no resolution to my toddler "NO" inside, especially on the trip topic.

Then, I gave up and went to facebook - thinking I'd catch up on friend's joy and allow it to morph my negativity into kindness and joy. Little did I know! The first post I read was from my friend Linda, and it read: "saying yes— to whatever God has called us to do—is always the right choice. - “Simple obedience stamped with God’s anointing will do far more than you can imagine”." - Dan Price" (from his study on Job). WOW. I can take this word and focus on it, applying it to my life in many areas. I can meditate on it and see if it's God speaking to me, or me just applying good advice to a difficult circumstance and decision.

Then I got an email, a newsletter update from the Kairos people with Team Expansion, updating all of the facilitators with how God is using Kairos around the world. This time - the first time I'd noticed in several months of being on this mailing list - they gave these accounts of Kairos in other countries. There was an incredible poem too, one that was written by a Kairos participant (anonymous) that just moved my heart so beautifully...

Show me Your Glory Today Lord

If You do not go with me,
I do not want to go
But if You do not take me to the nations
Take me to heaven now
I beg You

I would rather go into Your presence TODAY
With a burning heart
Than years from now
With a luke warm one

I am in desperate need of a radical gift of grace
To save me from this suffocating culture
I don’t want to live shopping trip to shopping trip
I want to live fishing trip to fishing trip
Fishing for men with You in my boat.

I am not afraid to die for You TODAY
With the gospel on my lips
But I am afraid to waste away
Falling asleep to the world’s lullaby
Please don’t let the church sing me to sleep

Take me to the nations Lord
Show me Your glory today
I would rather join those in heaven who see You and know Your worth
Then allow one more day to slip by me on earth
Poisoned by pride and play

I do not want to be found
On a yacht
While the world is sinking
In a fine restaurant
While the world is starving
With a closet of fine clothes
While so many still naked
Caring more for my lawn
Than for souls

Please Lord I pray
Show me Your glory
Take me to the Nations
Or take me home to heaven today

So, heart broken open, mind clear and awake, realizing the negative effects of my tiredness on my decision making, I sought the Lord, and clearly heard "YES".  So, yes - I will go. Willing heart, open to being grown in new ways, to be stretched in faith and draw closer to Him. To serve others, with His strength, calling on His power of the resurrection to bless those that share the gospel in far away places.

I know that work on my side is just pray, and recruit others to come alongside me to pray for our team; to ask for others to come alongside me in prayer and support me financially on this trip; and for God to pull all the details together for the trip itself this fall. But I know, that saying yes was the hardest thing that I had to do, and now it's all in His hands!! I don't have to "worry" about these things, knowing that He will provide, prayerfully and financially, and that He will schedule flights, events in the area, provide places for us to stay, others to work with, others to travel with us, and bless each of us while we go to bless others - as we all say "yes" to Him and allow Him to anoint the work of His hands...

Monday, June 13, 2011

Lessons for me on John 21

Sometimes, when I take time to really listen to God as I read His word, I’ll find tidbits of wisdom that He speaks to my heart. I’m trying hard to be disciplined to write these things out - either for future articles in the “Connections” magazine from “Auntie Em”, or to share with friends to encourage them. This one is too long for the magazine; I may develop a point or two into an article down the road...but my space limitations inhibit me on sending in this article; so blogging it is!! 
None of this is “rocket science”, and I’m sure many a better sermon have been taught on it, but these are my reflections - the things God spoke to MY heart. I hope it inspires you to get into the Bible and see what He will speak to your own heart...
1. Don’t just listen to what God says for us to do, but DO IT!
v6 “Then he said, “Throw out your net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you’ll get some!” So they did, and they couldn’t haul in the net because there were so many fish in it.”
So often we are inspired by scripture, but not do what He is prompting us to do. Frequently we hear an applicable sermon, but refuse to apply it to our own life (but we can be exceptionally good at finding things to share with other people, and follow through on that right away!). I think that it’s best if I listen with ears for me to hear, and let the Holy Spirit do the convicting to others; and then apply what He is asking me to change in my life - and let God do the changing in other’s lives. 
2. Be willing to serve outside of your comfort zone
v12 ““Now come and have some breakfast!” Jesus said. None of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. 13 Then Jesus served them the bread and the fish.”
I don’t know how I missed this point for so many years! Jesus cooked them breakfast (scriptures don’t mention anyone else on the shore with Him), and then served them. The fact that He served them doesn’t surprise me, He often served others. But to have cooked them a breakfast as they were returning from fishing - a little out of the ordinary. Sometimes we get stretched and grow by doing things we never thought of doing before. Cooking at a camp. Sitting with the elderly. Cleaning a mess dirtier than we could ever make. Going to a place (even another country) that we have never been before (where they might eat food we aren’t used to eating, smell differently than we do, and speak in a language we don’t understand!!) If we are willing to serve God whole heartedly, He will equip us to serve Him in ways we never imagined...and we might just like it. Even if we don’t, He will be growing us in new ways! 
3. Loving God means feeding His sheep. 
v17 A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep.
Sheep are messy, smelly and loud. Sometimes they are cute and cuddly, but like any new experience, that “honeymoon season” wears off fast! In order for us to show our love for Jesus, He expects us to get involved in ministry to others - the sheep. Which group of sheep has He called you to work with? Get to know them, and let them get to know YOU, the real you. The shepherd that doesn’t always have it all together, that has things go wrong in day to day life. I guarantee that you being you is one of the most valuable ways to let “the sheep” see how God is at work in your life, and it will give them courage to continue to walk with God through trials in their own lives.

The story isn’t finished!
verses 24,25 “This disciple is the one who testifies to these events and has recorded them here. And we know that his account of these things is accurate. Jesus also did many other things. If they were all written down, I suppose the whole world could not contain the books that would be written.”
We need to be willing to share how God is at work in us, not just how He blessed us, but how we see Him continually at work. We need to be IN His word, the Bible, to KNOW how He has worked, and how He will work in lives today. The Bible is a historical book, passed on from generation to generation. So is our lives. How beautiful a story for us to be willing to share the story of “once I was lost, but then I was found...” and how God impacted our life. It doesn’t have to be a “bragimony” but an honest testimony that tells the story of our confession of our sins, and the ongoing work that He did in our life. Not only does it remind us that He is at work in us, but it can give someone hope that they are loved by Him too. Share your HIStory. 

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