|Part of a Bolivian landscape on our wall ~ Artist: Tintaya|
When I was eight years old I made a choice to follow Jesus. Through the twenty-one years since that choice was made God has faithfully been making changes in my heart. There have been times of great growth and times of maintenance. There have been times of struggle, doubt and frustration. There have been times of great joy, elation, and laughter.
But nothing has compared to the past four years.
There are many wonderful stories out there of great men and women who were made for the mission field. Excited and ready, they headed to another country. Not to say they didn’t have struggles. They did but ultimately their stories tell us that they knew where they were headed and gladly submitted to that calling on their life. And, they accomplished great things for God.
My missionary story doesn’t read that way. And I know I’m not alone. Before moving here I was excited and scared, nervous and submissive. I didn’t come kicking and screaming. I came willingly.
But I didn’t know, not really, what we were entering into.
Of course we had gone through training, Bible and cross-cultural. In the eyes of many, including ourselves, we were prepared. We boarded a plane with our three daughters and flew to a new country.
I was not prepared.
I was not prepared for the intense heart surgery I was going to start experiencing as God slowly started stripping my desires and so-called rights. And I began to fight. I began to kick and I began to scream, begging God for a change.
I know much of the rollercoaster can be attributed to culture shock and the emotional changes that have to take place as someone gets acclimated to a foreign country but the spiritual battle taking place in my heart was also very real.
My lowest point came a year ago, that moment when a coworker advised us to not move into a village and that we might consider returning to the US. It was horrible and wonderful. A huge weight was lifted from my shoulders and then it was replaced by questions, lots and lots of questions.
In the past weeks I have finally admitted that much of my struggle has come because I don’t desire to fully deny myself.
Today I stayed home from church. Nathan took the girls and gave me a morning at home. I jumped online and looked for a sermon, specifically looking for one on self denial in light of God’s will and found Eric Ludy’s “The Costly Gospel.”
Sharing from Acts 27, Eric Ludy, shares the story of Paul's shipwreck on his way to Rome and he relates this story to the lives of believers. As the storms of life start to batter against us we first throw away the nonessentials. Then it’s required that we let go of the replaceable things in our lives. The next thing to go is the lifeboat, the thing we are holding on to, that thing which has our confidence. Lastly, we lose everything and are filled with Christ.
I need to let go of my lifeboat. I have slowly been letting go of the nonessentials and the replaceables but my lifeboat, a life in the good ole’ US of A, needs to be cut. I need to let that go. The not-so-secret hope that we will be able to return to the US. I need to let go of my language and my culture. Not that I can’t continue to use them, but they cannot be the focus of my life. They are at the heart of my frustration and they are impeding my growth and opportunities for ministry.
When God has a commission on your life that lifeboat is an impediment because it is diminishing your confidence in God. ~Eric Ludy
I need to grow in the understanding that God can use me in my weaknesses, including my weakness in the Spanish language. He can use me when I feel out of place because He brought me here.
Please pray for me as I cut the ties to my lifeboat, that I may be able to keep my eyes on Christ in the midst of the storms.