When There’s Nothing Left

Maybe you’ve been to that place.  You’ve run the race of faith so hard and learned so much and thought you’d experienced enough to last a while…  Then the next thing happens, and you simply can’t take it.  Hadn’t there been more than enough pain and trials already?  Hadn’t you already given all you had to give?  You throw up your hands and fall to your knees, sobbing and saying you’re done.  You have nothing–nothing–left.

What do you do?

What’s the only thing you can do?

Praise Him.  Sounds backwards, but what else can you do?  You could curse Him, but you know where that will get you.  You could stop talking to Him and stop listening to Him, but you know the result of that, too.  So you’re left with praising.  And that will bring you far.

Advertisements

Proving Him

Have you ever tried to prove yourself?  You know, make sure people see certain qualities in you or don’t see certain qualities in you.  I have found myself doing that often, trying to prove myself to the people around me.  I want them to see me in a certain way, and sometimes I go to whatever extent necessary to make sure they see it.

You can figure out how unbiblical that is.  It’s not at all what the Lord wants.  But He showed me something else yesterday as I was thinking about it.  What if I were to put all of that energy into proving Him?  Instead of trying to prove myself, what if I aimed to show people His qualities?

What if I set out to show people His love; His goodness, kindness, patience, tenderness?  What if my heart’s desire was truly that people would know Him and how wonderful His character is?  What if I decided to live every minute so that He would be glorified?

I can do it in the simple things.  Wash the dishes and sweep the floors so that people know God’s service.  Let the little girls finish talking before commenting so that they know God’s patience and genuine interest in our daily affairs.  Take the dirty jobs so that people know God’s humility.  Stand in the isle on the bus so that the elderly woman has a seat, that people would see God’s love in not seeking my own.

I don’t need to prove His existence.  I don’t need to prove His Word.  He speaks for Himself.  But He speaks through lives–I can let Him speak through mine.

**Listen:  The Proof of Your Love–For King and Country**

Here Comes the Rain

“Blessed are the pure in heart,

For they shall see God.”

Matthew 5:8

The storm has begun.  Yesterday we went to the airport to pick up another team–this time 21 more people, from NY.  They are here for a week, then we drop them off and pick up another team.  We will have people coming and going for the next four weeks straight.  It’s craziness!  Once they all leave, there will be two weeks “off” before the kids start school and I leave for home.  There’s one storm.

Then there’s a literal storm.  It’s hurricane season, and we’ve been getting some rainstorms.  Apparently they’re not as frequent as they have been in years past, which I’m a little bummed about.  Today and tomorrow, however, are supposed to be quite rainy.  We just had a downpour; the water came down so hard it looked like a sheet of bumpy glass.  The wind picks up, the trees start swaying violently, and then the rain is dumped.  It’s awesome.  There’s the second storm.

The third storm is in the making.  It began two months ago and will continue for another month.  God’s rain is pouring down on me as I’m here in Belize.  I have gone through fire after fire, but I always come out purer.  The Lord has been revealing more to me about Himself than I ever dreamed of.  And I know it’s not over yet.  He has much, much more in store.  Sweet Jesus, bring on the rain!

This summer has, overall, gone by quickly.  There have been days that seem like years, but as I look back now it all seems like a blur.  That’s not even because of all that goes on in a day here on earth; it’s all that goes on in a day in the spiritual realm.  Oh my, it can so easily be exhausting!  Yet the joy of the Lord is my strength.  His promises hold true; He is faithful forever.  What a wonderful God He is!

Yesterday on our way home from the airport the bus broke down.  Not driveable.  We had only gone ten or fifteen minutes of our hour-and-a-half drive.  We parked in a decent-sized parking lot (which happened to belong to a mechanic) and hung out.  Nobody was able to do anything to fix the bus, so we all waited for another bus to come.  About three hours in the parking lot with four little girls who were incredibly bored.  The team was good-natured about it though, and the girls found some puddles to play in and coal to draw hopscotch tiles with.  When the next bus finally came, the guys loaded the luggage on and we left for home.  ETA: 6:30, exactly when youth group started.  The team had to eat dinner first, and they were scheduled to give the message.

Well we got on our way and decided to stop quickly so people could use a public restroom.  Turned the bus off… and couldn’t turn it back on.  The battery was done.  More prayer!!  Satan didn’t want us home.  It was a nice adventure, but youth group had to go on.  Eventually, miraculously, another battery was found and the bus started back up.  Hallelujah!  We got home at almost 7:00.  I hurried to help get the girls dinner and feed the team, then I ran down to the church to help the other leaders with youth group.  Thankfully games are always scheduled to be first, so the teens were still relaying and fooling around.  The team made it down a bit later and was able to participate in a few of the games before setting up for and giving the message.  The message was good.  It seems that the theme of love, loving one another and loving the Lord, has been prevalent in the past few messages.  God is working!

Please continue to pray for the little girls and for things here at the house.  Pray also that I will always be open to the Lord and His leading, and that I would hear His voice clearly.  Thank you, friends!

They Fit

It’s been a while since I last wrote, and, as you can imagine, a lot has happened.  We had another team this past week, a great group from Pennsylvania.  They ran a VBS program for the kids in the villages, which was awesome.  The kids had so much fun!  The team also built a house for a family and painted another house for a young mother.  They really put all of their energy into their tasks and did a great job.  Friday they went to a nice beach that is about 3 hours south of our house.  I was able to tag along this time, with all the kids of the house.  The beach, Placencia, is absolutely gorgeous, and the ocean water is warm (something I’m not used to!).

We left the beach somewhere around 5:00pm and got home after 8:00.  It was a long ride home but not many people slept.  Most of them played a game in the back of the bus called Mafia, while the rest of us sat up front talking.  I got to know quite a few of the team members very well, and they were each blessings to me.  Hopefully we’ll run into each other again.

Though this past week was amazing and fun and full of joy, it was also very difficult.  Spiritually there is a lot going on.  God has been putting desires in my heart–ones that I know are from Him, because there’s no way my flesh could crave such things.  And yet He also asks for complete surrender.  It’s taken me a long while to understand this, and I don’t think I’ve mastered it yet.  How do these two things fit?  God gives you deep desires, ones that you know are from Him, and then He asks you to surrender them.  To give them back to Him and be willing to live without them.  What?

Psalm 37:3-5 says, “Trust in the Lord, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.  Delight yourself also in the Lord, And He shall give you the desires of your heart.  Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass.”

Have you ever read Genesis 22?  If you haven’t, or need to be reminded of it, go read it now and then finish reading this post.  Really, go do it. You could even use biblegateway.com.

Can you imagine?  God gave Abraham a son–Isaac was the son of the promise.  The Lord had promised to give Abraham a son through whom He would create nations.  So Abraham waited years and years for this son, for God’s promise to be fulfilled.  Finally, after 25 years, God gave Isaac to Abraham and his wife, Sarah.  Finally, Abraham could see the promise coming to fruition.  He had the son, and he could imagine the nations that would be built out of his family.  And then…  God asked him to sacrifice his son.  “Then He said, ‘Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah; and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you'” (Genesis 22:2).

Sacrifice his son?!  Sacrifices, before Jesus’ final sacrifice, included killing, binding, and burning an animal on an altar.  This was how God commanded His people to worship Him, before Jesus came and made a new way to the Father.  Think about that: God asked Abraham to bind his only son with ropes, put him on a wooden altar, and kill him as a sacrifice.

What about the promise God had given?  Isaac was to bear children and make nations!  Abraham had waited 25 years for his son, and he loved him with all of his heart.  Why on earth would God ask Abraham to do such a thing?  Though it didn’t make any sense, Abraham was obedient.  He took Isaac, bound him, and was about to kill him when the Lord stopped him and said, “‘Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me'” (vs. 12).

God was testing Abraham, to see the depth of his devotion.  Would Abraham be so committed to the Lord that he would literally do anything He asked?  Or would he see the request as completely unreasonable, and not be able to trust that God had a plan and knew exactly what He was doing?  Because Abraham was obedient and trusted the Lord, God blessed him abundantly.  The blessings were above and beyond anything Abraham could dream of.  But he had to be stretched to the last possible point in order to get them.

God does give desires and promises and then ask us to give them back to Him.  To surrender everything to Him and allow Him to lead and direct every minute of every day of every month of every year.  Sometimes it doesn’t make sense at all.  In my own life, there are two specific desires He’s given me.  The emotions that come with them are intense and, at times, overpowering.  So it was ridiculously hard when He asked me to give them up and be okay without them.  Am I willing to let go, to lose all, when He asks me to do so?

It doesn’t always mean that He’ll strip away those desires and never bring them about.  Go back to Psalm 37 above.  He says that if I delight myself in Him, He WILL give me the desires of my heart.  As I delight in Him, the desires of my heart are desires that He has put there.  They’re not of my flesh.  He tests us to see how willing we are and how devoted to Him we are.  The tests allow Him to use us in even more ways, and He ALWAYS blesses us for being obedient.  Always.  It’s hard to come so close to the edge in surrendering to Him when you don’t know what’s on the other side.  It feels as though once you let go you’ll fall and never get back up.  It hurts.  It’s dying to self, which is excruciating.

But the joy that comes with being obedient to Christ?  Wow.  The peace?  It surpasses all understanding.  And to know that you’ve pleased your Father… that’s priceless.  He desires to give us good things, as a father with his son (Matthew 7:11).  His love is greater than anything we could ever fathom.  What a mighty, wonderful God!

I Surrender

If worship’s like perfume,

I’ll pour mine out on You

For there is none as deserving

Of my love like You…

All to You

I surrender

Everything

Every part of me

All to You

I surrender

All of my dreams

All of me

Lord, I surrender

…All to You, my God

…Your love makes it worth it

 

Lord, let my life be like a love song to You.  May I be a sweet aroma, pleasing to You.  Take me, make me, lead me.  I surrender.

 

Song lyrics from “I Surrender” by Kim Walker

Mangoes, anyone?  There is at least one mango tree here on the property, along with some lime trees and many palms with coconuts.  The little girls love picking mangoes and putting their “stuff” on them.  I’m not yet sure of all that the “stuff” includes; spices and vinegar, but I don’t know exactly which spices.  They also love to employ the boys to climb up on the roof to cut down the coconuts.

You’d think these things would yield a lot of coconut flesh and water, right?  I thought so, until one was cut open and I saw the flesh only about the size of a baseball.  It is delicious, and certainly doesn’t last long.  I would get a picture of the limes, but they’ve all been used up.  Seems like any time one of them gets ripe it’s picked and immediately used for juice.

We’ve had a lot of fun this past week.  I wrote on Tuesday that it was a crazy week, and it continued to be until Saturday morning when the team left.  The team worked hard all week, and we were able to get out a few times to take breaks.  We drove up to Spanish Lookout to get ice cream, drove up to Cayo (San Ignacio) to get ice cream and walk around the town, and went swimming in a somewhat nearby pool.  The kids of the house are all done with school, so they’ve been running around and playing in the little plastic pool.  The girls also just got bikes, so they have been very busy riding around the base.  They’re getting really good at riding, too.

Saturday I went on the bus with the team to the airport, because the little girls and half of the kids from the village decided to go with.  It was utter chaos, and a very long drive.  But it was fun!  On the way back we stopped at a store and the kids all got $1 juice and $1 chips.  What a treat!  The ride home was much quieter, since they didn’t have so many Americans to jump on and talk with.  Many of them actually fell asleep.  It was sweet to watch.

Yesterday was very relaxed.  Since church is at night, we just hung out all day.  Pastor Ron and Miss Linda left around noon to meet with another couple for lunch, so the rest of us went out for chicken.  There’s a little restaurant down the road a ways that we always go to for lunch on Sundays.  Fried chicken and fried rice/french fries, and a soft drink.  (A lot of the food here is fried.)  After chicken, we came home and dispersed.  I played card games with Delmi and Irma for a while.  Have I ever mentioned what great laughs they have?

The boys went to a youth program overnight from Saturday to Sunday, so they came home Sunday afternoon.  There are two ways to tell if the boys are home: 1) they can be heard down the road, and 2) the food is gone.  They brought a couple of friends home with them, so they were especially loud out playing basketball.  I helped the girls fill the pool with water so they could go swimming, but that didn’t ever happen.  Instead we had a full-blown water fight.  All four little girls against me.  And it all started because I said they could get my feet wet.  Dani thought maybe my legs needed to cool down, and then the rest of me too.  It was hilarious.  I held on to the hose for as long as I could, but eventually they got it and chased me all over the driveway.  It wore all of us out!

I wish I had some more pictures to post, but I was only able to grab a few throughout the week.  Below you’ll see: the base from the back–the girls’ dorm, the shop, the main house, the boys’ dorm, the boys’ rooms, and the church; Dani being goofy; Delmi and Irma eating their mango; and the back of Jaleel (I apologize for not getting his beautiful eyes; he wouldn’t turn around!).

There has been a lot going on spiritually that I am not ready to share.  God has been so faithful and merciful–as if He could be any different!  He has been working wonders here.  He has been growing me immensely, which is why I’m here.  He’s teaching me about His mercy and how He blesses abundantly.  He has answered prayers and brought justice and been so GOOD!