Last year some time I had this great idea. I said to Tina and Michelle…”We could write a blog! I do love to write…” & well duh. That makes me qualified…(insert chuckle here).
I don’t feel qualified for any of this actually, life in general. More times than not I’m doing my best to go with the flow and just trying to put a face of confidence on. Even that doesn’t go so well as I’m completely and utterly transparent. Recently, I’ve had a change in perspective, no longer fighting it & have begun to desire more of it – transparency. I’m learning to be thankful for my areas of weakness because it’s been in and through them that I’ve witnessed God, personally and powerfully. I am grateful for a God who uses those completely unqualified but just willing in order to demonstrate His glory. He’s able to show a lot through me. And for that…I’m overwhelmingly grateful.
One month ago Michelle and I were returning from a missions trip in San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic. Sunday, March 18th at 3am I walked through the door of my home with a mix of emotions – gratitude for all that my heart experience over those seven days, a twinge of sadness already missing my people, and just super excited to see my husband. He’s just awesome, I can’t help myself.
I do want to share one of my experiences with you because…well, it’s TOO GOOD not to share. Now, let me preface this…it has nothing to do with me but everything to do with what God did. I simply got to be a witness to it. I was just a body in a building on an island about 4 hours flight-time away from home. There was nothing special about me being there, I am no different from you reading this. Experiencing the still active and loving Jesus is not exclusive. No. It’s all-inclusive. If you’re doubting or questioning that in your heart, I just want to encourage you through this. I want to encourage you to dig into who Jesus is. I’m not speaking on denomination, tradition, or building. I’m specifically speaking on this Jesus who changed everything by His life & more by His death & resurrection, this Jesus who has established and is the unshakeable rock. I don’t know about you…but I so want to be rooted in something that isn’t going to crumble under criticism or trial. I want to stand firm in the midst of chaos that this world throws my way. I gotta tell ya…in Jesus, you’ll find exactly this and so much more.
Oh. Now, back to the DR.
I joined with 14 others of a variety of ages and walks of faith under the organization called: Viva Kids. Check them out. From personal experience, they’re pretty fantastic. I believe we’re all called to different mission fields – our homes, families, workplaces, friend groups, inner and outer cities, countries, tribes, villages. Our hearts all break for different reasons and it’s perfect that way. If everyone went “here” then no one would go “there”. You know? Our differences in desires are quite beautiful and purposed. Viva Kids…their heart has been moved to this community in San Pedro de Macoris, to the children and the families here, to supporting the Mercedes’ family. To meet this family is to be powerfully impacted. They are living within the purpose of God’s plan for them. The school they started, the children they love on, the water building that serves the surrounding community, the people they know and serve. There is proof after proof of God’s miracles. They can simply look around and see all the ways God has done the impossible in their lives. Listen, if you’re sitting here and feeling as if you don’t have proof of miracles in your own life, maybe you’re not stepping out of your comfort zone. Maybe you just haven’t looked in the rearview mirror of your life. Maybe you need just a little change in perspective. If you never step into the light, how can you say the Son doesn’t shine?
Before leaving for the trip, we had accumulated about $3,500 to give to the family – typically this money would be used for a work project but the needs of the school and the family were deemed more important, none opposed. This money would be put towards some of the debt that’s been acquired due to operation and upkeep of the school. Monday night, after a packed day of meeting the kids and hosting a teacher appreciation event, we were informed that the money – all $3,500 – had been stolen out of a locked car. Every penny gone. NEVER has this happened before. Never.
The 15 of us agreed, let’s pray. Let’s go to God about this. Worrying wasn’t even a thought in that moment. I’m still in awe of this response. As we sat in a circle, those who felt moved, prayed aloud. “God, we don’t understand this but we’re calling on You to do something about it! You are always good, no matter what!” That was the overall attitude. We then agreed that we should worship, let’s lift up the Name that is above all other Names simply because He is God! It’s hard to describe what happened in that common-room but hearts that started off with confusion left that worship time with joy, expecting God to show up and show off.
That’s what worship does. It changes our perspective. Taking it off of ourselves and back onto a God who is working all things out for the good of those who love Him.
Our group moved their feet, spreading the word about what had happened and hearts were responding quickly. By Tuesday night, donations had poured in and totaled about $6,800. Almost double the amount that was stolen. But God wasn’t done there and we weren’t expecting Him to be. Wednesday afternoon – as we were on our way back from distributing bagged meals to families living in a local sugar cane village – we were told that donations now were at $7,100 and the money that was stolen on Monday was returned. Say, what now?? So, you’re telling me that instead of the $3,500 that was originally raised, you now have triple the amount?!
Yes. That’s exactly what I’m saying.
I kept saying “I’m not surprised. I’m just so excited!”
You see, when you are moving within the boundaries of the path set before you by God himself, when you have aligned your life with the will of God, you can expect Him to show up and show off in your life. He wants to do that. He delights in His people and in showing unmerited favor onto them, onto us. He wants to give you moment after moment saying, “I’m not surprised. I’m just so excited!”
I learned an unbelievably valuable lesson during my week in the DR.
Worshipping God, giving God glory is not dependent upon your circumstances. You see, that’s not natural to me. When my life and my circumstances are good then I’m over here like (hands in the air)…”God is good…all the time! Yeahh!” But when my life is hit with trial and my circumstances aren’t anything to excitedly jump around about then I put to question God’s character. I attend church, refusing to lift my hands or even sing the songs. Who’s the one actually changing here?
God is who He is regardless of what you’re going through. We are invited into personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ, who is absolutely constant. We can bring our needs, our pains, and our joys to Him. When was the last time you thanked God just for being who He is? Have you done it in the midst of trial? For me, that was when my understanding of His goodness deepened. I began to understand a “peace that surpasses all understanding” (Phil.4:7) and ” a sacrifice of praise” (Heb.13:15). By laying aside my hurt & pain, choosing to lift up praise to my Father in heaven who loves me in spite of my mess, has transformed my heart. Choosing to proclaim His goodness in the midst of my struggle has changed my perspective. I’m looking, I’m expecting God to show up in my pain. And my friends, when you look for God…you’re going to find Him.
In reflecting on Hebrews 12:1-3, 7a
– Throw off everything (Heb12:1) – laying aside our pains and trials, your shortcomings, your past, your current situation
– Fixing our eyes on Jesus (Heb12:2) – looking up to Jesus instead of around to our circumstances
– Consider him (Heb12:3) – think about everything Christ did for YOU, the love He demonstrated, the opposition He faced, the pain He endured, the evil He overcame, the power that lies within Him and now within you
– Endure (Heb12:7) – when you reach to Jesus, you now have access to an unwavering strength. You can be confident in the midst of chaos. With Jesus can we endure.
If you are feeling as if your life is being controlled by fear, insecurity, or pain, if you’re struggling to change your perspective…let me remind you – God is simply waiting for you to call on His Name. Throw that stuff off, fix your eyes on Jesus, consider Him, and endure. Just a little bit of willingness goes a long way.
One last thing, please help us in praying for protection over the Mercedes’ family. The feeling of unease is thick after having your car broken into not just once but twice. Imagine that for a moment. Imagine having something stolen from you in one location and then returned to you in another location, your car broken into in both instances? I would be concerned for my safety and for the safety of my family. We are reminded though – we live in a broken world. We don’t have to live in fear but we are called to be on guard. We have victory in Jesus’ name.
Keep looking for God and you’ll keep finding Him.