Saturday, 26 December 2009

He's My Christmas Miracle

"Yet I am always with you;
you hold me by my right hand.

You guide me with your counsel,

and afterward you will take me into glory.

Whom have I in heaven but you?

And earth has nothing I desire besides you.

My flesh and my heart may fail,

but God is the strength of my heart

and my portion forever.

But as for me, it is good to be near God.

I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge;

I will tell of all your deeds.
--Psalm 73:23-26, 28

(My life verse, given to me at birth by my Granny)

I love the spirit of love and generosity and hope this time of year seems to raise up in people-- even those who don't know the reason we're celebrating. I love how the whole world seems to take on a festive air ["O holy night, the stars are brightly shining!"]. I love the sparkling lights and gorgeous, cozy candle-lit atmospheres. Swedes do Christmas decorating well. Very simple and understated-- like a single star in a window, or a simple garland of fir boughs round the door frame.

Most of all, I love how each year He gives us the opportunity again to look back over the centuries to a tiny newborn baby resting in a manger of hay and realize anew the love that humbled Himself to such a vulnerable state to come into our broken world and save us from our own sin ["long lay the world in sin and error pining, til He appeared and the soul felt its worth..."].

It amazes me that the God of the universe wants to be mine. His attention to me in all my littleness floors me.
["A thrill of hope-- a weary world rejoices-- for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!"]

I feel like I'm often sharing stories of how I've doubted His provision and worried about how I would make it, and then how He came through. I don't mean to be boring or repetitive :) This is just the route He's chosen to teach me these lessons of His faithfulness lately.

So about 2 weeks ago I found myself in such a state. I was sick with the flu, spending full days in bed and feeling useless and discouraged... And overcome with worry after checking my bank account to find it held only $10.55 to last me through December... This month has been a bad one for bills as many bills here seemingly come not monthly, but quarterly and because this is my first quarter here, I didn't know what they were going to be or when they were going to arrive. As it turns out, my electricity, internet, and transportation (trams/bus card) bills came all at once, meaning that even if there were to be enough to pay them, there would be nothing left over for rent at the end of the month, let alone groceries. And I knew it was silly (and perhaps even sinful) to worry. I knew that He'd promised to take care of me if I've committed my life to Him. I knew He'd work something out.

But still I worried. And prayed...
And begged Him to fill my heart with more faith than I know.

And my mind grasped for ways to fix it myself, to take care of it, but my body was too tired and weak to keep up with my mind. And He was there to whisper, "Trust Me. I Am enough."

And still I worried. And prayed...
And begged Him to fill my heart with more faith than I know.

I'm not sure there is a more vulnerable space as when I have no health and no finances. They're like the basics of survival in our western world. So I suppose there isn't a better space for me to find myself in to learn to rely on Him truly, deeply, radically. To truly be able to say, "My flesh and my heart may fail, but YOU are the strength of my heart and my portion forever." I'd never been able to relate to this more absolutely.

And I found a space of fitful peace. "Alright, God. I have no one but You. So do your thing. I'm waiting..."

["Fall to your knees!"]

And the next day a friend told me he was paying a bill for me in exchange for babysitting for his children. He didn't know that I had no idea how it was going to be paid this month. Only God knew...

And over the weekend someone at church handed me some money and said, "Just take it. I'm just obeying what God's telling me to do."

And then there were some Christmas gifts of money from parents, Grandma, family back home.

And I no longer have to worry about paying the rent at the end of the month. And I was able to buy some groceries to make dishes for the Christmas parties I've been to, and I might even be able to delight myself with a Christmas gift of a voucher to use at the gym like I've been praying for for months :) And I know it's only 1 month and small needs in the grand scheme of things. But it was/is big to me. And He knows that.

Now that He's provided the finances for another month, I'm praying still that He provides the healing for my body. I'm over the flu (though now it's morphed into a cold-- bless the Swedish weather!) but I'm having my first Swedish Diabetic appt. the beginning of January-- was already in for blood tests, and it just brings up the longing for Him to heal me of this disease and wipe away all the worry and inconvenience and pain and fright and strain it causes to live with.

There are a few people who started coming to mind to ask to pray over me when I started feeling stirred up about praying for healing again. One of them is an old Bulgarian man I know here. He used to be part of the church til all the issues with the leadership and a situation in the church body started coming up and having ripple effects. He is a man with an incredible gift of faith. He is a man who has seen God work in some amazing ways almost like the Apostle Paul himself saw. God has used this man to speak to me before in the most timely ways, and speak into issues in my life that this man knew nothing about. It gives me chills and brings me to my knees...

I hadn't yet rang him to ask to meet for prayer for healing. A part of me feels stupid to be so childlike, but it doesn't hurt and He has been prompting me to ask for more faith and what is faith if not 'like a child'? And then last night he randomly ended up giving me a ride to a friend's. One of the first thing he says in his thick Bulgarian accent with his trademark joyful smile, "Leah, I am so happy to see you. God has been asking me to pray for you these past few weeks."

And I could have fallen to my knees then and there, (God! You really do SEE me!!) but he went on. "I've been waking in the night crying and my soul so heavy and I ask Him, 'what is it? Why?' and He says, 'pray for My Leah'."

The thought of His heart being so full of me that He wakes His prayer warriors in the night to cover me in prayer.... Oh, I cannot express how much it means to me. How much it encourages me. This man doesn't even necessarily know what he's praying, but the Spirit does. He sees my every situation, my every need, my every longing, my every struggle, my every hope, my every circumstance, and He moves on my behalf if I throw myself completely on Him and trust Him ("They who trust Him fully, find Him fully true." -- Francis G. Havergal)

He said to me, "God wants me to tell you this, that He knows you're in a hard spot, but that He has you there for a reason, to teach you not to be afraid. And that you are not there alone."

This is the same thing He's been impressing on my heart these difficult months when I've discovered things which have been so wonky in working with this ministry, and prayerfully attempting to walk in wisdom in the situation I find myself in as a missionary here, to speak up and to remain silent as He leads, to stand for Him despite being unpopular because of it, and outrightly rebuked by respected people which makes me question everything He's so faithfully shown... It's been the fight of my life. And again.... brought me to a place where I have nothing but Him. "My flesh and my heart may fail, but You remain the strength in my heart and my portion forever."

["O hear the angel voices"]

I think I will be forever amazed that this God of all the universe pays any attention to me, let alone lets me know it in a clear, undeniable way. His love, His love, His love... It overwhelms me.
And I am more thankful than I have words for. I'm wrapped up in this love. And I want to sing it out to all the world... He loves you, He is worthy of all of your trust, and wants to do more than you let yourself think or imagine. Press into the treasure of His presence and see...

"I promise myself if I ever get frustrated with life again, if I ever get into river-deep debt, I will sell it all and move out into the woods, find some people who aren't like me and learn to love them, and do something even harder, let them love me, receive the love of somebody who doesn't share my faith system, who doesn't agree with me about everything, and I will sleep beneath the stars and whisper thank you to the Creator of the universe, as a way of reacquainting myself to an old friend, a friend who says you don't have to be smart or good-looking or religious or anything; you just have to cling to Him, love Him, need Him, listen to His story."
-- Donald Miller, 'Through Painted Deserts' pg 246

To be His... what more could I ask for?

[O night divine! O night when Christ was born..."]

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