Monday, 9 August 2010

Wait Quietly

I’ve been walking through a dark, difficult season. For so many more reasons than I can explain here.

Some of you have seen me through a few such times. Such easy discouragement, such long days working through it all, getting by at a ‘functioning’ level in the meantime, and learning new elements to depending on Him, waiting on Him. I learned in theory that following Him into full-time ministry is like painting a huge red target across your face for the enemy, but experiencing it during this assignment in Sweden has been another thing entirely. And I am very tired of the battle, and trying again and again to learn to walk upright in the midst of it, knowing that He carries it all, like the Papa He is, just letting His little one have the sensation of carrying it along with Him, but not really required to bear the weight. I tend to forget this. Learning to walk in His grace is a life-long journey…

Transitioning in this insecure lifestyle is particularly hard. He is good; preparing the way before me. He’s provided jobs to work my way to His next step for me, a flat to stay in after I leave mine the end of this month, a visa extension to stay on in Sweden, and so on and so forth. But I’ve been struggling with the way it feels to pour myself out on something in what He’s led me to believe is obedience, praying harder than I ever have in my life, and still be waiting to see the light break through.  And it’s been such a narrow, lonely road. It all just goes to let the enemy play on my own perception of my smallness. He screams at me of my not-good-enough-ness, while Jesus whispers that it was never about my ANYTHING-ness. Only His. All-sufficent One! Maybe this is all just to show me in a way that goes all the way to my core, my heart, what it truly means that You are all-sufficent… Help me to walk so humbly in the shadow of Your wing that I do not complain or lose heart,  but only dwell in the opportunity to know You more deeply through the sorrow and the ache of this season.

Last week, after a particularly disheartening situation with a friend whom I know didn’t mean for the enemy to use it the way he has, I couldn’t emotionally handle facing the issues at Rescue Mission. And I couldn’t properly pray. Only enough to say, “God, do you see how low I am? Please…” And I couldn’t seem to read His Word… So I found a recording of the entire bible. He led me to Lamentations, and then Psalms, and I laid back and listened as a strong, deep, British voice read out the ancient wisdom, ancient balm, until I could sit up and read for myself again. His gentle patience is more overwhelming than the darkness…

He wrapped my heart up in Lamentations 3:21-26, as He has done in years past. It reads, in NLT:
“Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this:
The unfailing love of the Lord never ends!
By His mercies we have been kept from complete destruction.
Great is His faithfulness; His mercies begin afresh each day.
I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in Him!’
The Lord is wonderfully good to those who wait for Him and seek Him.
So it is good to wait quietly for salvation from the Lord.”

It is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord…

In so many ways He has been reminding me to look back at the proofs of His faithfulness to find the strength to trust on regardless of circumstances. My bible study I’ve been working through on my own, ‘Believing God’ by Beth Moore, has just ‘happened’ to be about remembering the acts of His faithfulness in the history of Israel, and in our personal histories with Him. He planted a book in my hands last week called “The Jesus Manifesto” by Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola which has been about simply looking back at the fundamentals of our faith, namely, the person, purpose, and work of Jesus Christ. I am struck anew at Who He is, and so, who I am. And slowly, slowly some light breaks in on this darkness.  And as I remember my foundation, as I cling to His faithfulness, I am given strength for my weakness to simply ‘wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord,’ knowing that “Christ is all and in all” (Col.3:11), to wait as faithfully, even it’s only the smallest drizzle of faith for a time rather than a pouring torrent.

And so I, again, reevaluate this “ministry thing” and my place in it. I take the beatings, and I dance in the joys. I ache over the current ministry I am finishing with soon, longing to see it all worked out but realizing, with a despairing heart, that I probably won’t. And I remind myself, no matter the difficulties and misunderstandings and unmet expectations and broken dreams, to look to Jesus; to never lose the wonder of the cross. To remember what it’s all about in the first place. And so, to walk stronger and step lighter, knowing that, “If Christ is in you, then the Christian life is not about striving to be something you are not. It is about becoming what you already are” and “Good works are simply fruit falling off a tree. If you will sink your roots deep in Christ, who is your life, you will not be able to stop the fruit from coming forth” (L. Sweet & F. Viola, ‘The Jesus Manifesto’). That I am responsible first to Him. If I please others in the process, great. If not… then that has to be great too. The fruit He’s dropping from this branch maybe isn't the way I hoped it would be? Or what others expect or desire? I don't know... But I guess I’m not responsible for the kind of fruit He chooses to bear from this branch of my life. I’m only responsible to abide in the vine (John 15).

He reminded me again what matters most through another quote from ‘The Jesus Manifesto’. They wrote,
“Jesus quizzed Peter with one ultimate question, and only one. And that one decisive question is the same one He asks us today.
It is not, ‘Are you ready to accept leadership status in my church?’
It is not, ‘How many people did you lead to Me?’
It is not, ‘Have you spoken in tongues yet?’
It is not, ‘Is leadership your passion?’
It is not, ‘To whom will you be accountable?’
It is not, ‘Are you doing better than the best you can do so God will be happy with you?’
The question is only this: ‘Do you love me?’”

I just want my answer to always be a resounding, ‘Yes! Oh, yes.”
And I want my very living to display it.
The rest just follows...

So I press on.

Thank you so much to all of you who have been praying for me. You have no idea how He bends to hear your whispers to heaven and how He remembers me here and moves to show me so…

Remain in His unfathomable Love and live to love on, love on, love on--

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