Thursday, January 31, 2013

Lessons learned - in Jamaica

If there is one lesson I learned on my recent trip to Harmons, Jamaica it was this: STAND on the promises of God. It was a lesson that came at the end of the week for me.

We had an incredible week serving with WonbyOne and spending time with our Jamaican friends. It was a trip that I saw friendships deepen, lives challenged and blessings abound. And as I learned once again {in a missions perspectives class last night} going and serving in mission work is not for us but for God to receive greater glory...He doesn't need us, yet He allows us to have a part in what He is doing in the world, A job that He could do without our help but yet He let's us have a part because He desires glory and He desires fellowship with us. There was definitely fellowship with Him and I pray He received all the glory.

Even in the midst of an incredible week, one that I continued to hear Gods voice, sometimes right in the minute I needed a word, I still struggled. I once vowed that I'd never be the older single girl that always was talking abut my singleness...but that was the battle this week, the struggle, the tug of war if you will between my head and my heart, the spirit and the flesh were at war..all week...and it never let up. I didn't go on this trip prepared for this...I've been doing really good about this subject but I guess when you're asked {no joke} up to 10x per day..."you have kids? {no} why not? {no husband} you're not married? {no} why? {haven't met the right one yet...I'm waiting on God} and the best was {no joke} you're the oldest white girl I've met who isn't married {really?} mentally exhausted all I could do was be transparent and the encouragement I received from my team was priceless. A word fitly spoken in due season. God used my team greatly and I saw great victory.

Friday, our last day in Harmons, I was sitting outside having some quiet time and my friend Sarah came over and put a piece of paper in front of me. It was torn from a devotional book and it was about Matthew 7:7-11, ask/seek/knock. It was talking about how God has far greater purpose in our prayers than just asking and receiving. He wants Us to learn more about Who He is. He wants us to draw others into our petitions so that when the answer finally comes its turned into a testimony of the glory and goodness of God. "Don't just ask, seek and knock; keep asking, seeking and knocking. Such times of persistence lead to a greater more memorable experiences of His goodness."

I was greatly encouraged by this note and my heart was lifted from the battle I'd been in all week...and that wasn't all. The ending verses were Matthew 7:7-11 and what hit me the hardest was the verse 11, you see that was a PROMISE God had given to me when I was a senior in high school. 17 years ago. A promise that one day God would give me a husband and fulfill the desire to be married. A promise I'd lost sight of.

So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him. (Matthew 7:11 NLT)

What happened next was really cool. We'd been receiving encouragement cards all week from friends and family back home. I opened next one of the cards from a dear friend. Her words were so comforting. The end of her card included words from an old hymn "standing on the promises of Christ my King". And then she said something I will never forget..."my prayer is that you'd stand the promises of God this week."

I can't explain the embrace I felt in that moment from God. Did she know that the very thing I'd struggle with all week would be something that 17 years ago God had already given me a promise too? No! But God did! Did she know that a friend on the trip would tear out a page of a devotional to encourage me with? No! But God did! I can't explain it...all I know is I learned a very valuable lesson. STAND. EVEN WHEN YOU DON'T HOLD THE ANSWER. you never quit believing the promises of God. The word in that verse that holds my promise is "WILL"'s His word. He is Faithful to His word. Just because its been 17 years with several heart breaks and no end in sight doesn't mean I give up. Another passage of scripture I continually hold to is

All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth. Obviously people who say such things are looking forward to a country they can call their own. If they had longed for the country they came from, they could have gone back. But they were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them. (Hebrews 11:13-16 NLT)

The part that has always stuck out to me is that THEY DIED IN THEIR FAITH, THEY NEVER physically held the promise BUT that didn't mean they quit believing. I believe they could do this only because they saw with eyes of faith, what was waiting for them at the end, the prize...JESUS. They knew life on earth wasn't ALL there is!

I was reminded again this week that Jesus MUST BE ENOUGH. I know the "dying in faith not receiving" is hard to wrap our human brains around, but I ask it really going to matter in the end if I was married or not? No. What will matter is will I believe the One WHO IS ABLE with all my heart, EVEN IF I never receive? I by no means have this faith thing mastered. I'm human, even now as I type this sitting in a home by myself lonely night after night after night wishing there would be someone here at home just to share my day with or just someone to share a meal with, I'm reminded of my frailty and how desperately I need my faith to be increased. And in His still sweet way , He speaks through a song playing the back ground..."You're always enough for me." That truth sinks deep, and I believe with all my heart that once more, He truly is enough. He's enough for a heart that is lonely, a heart that wants to give up at times on a promise it was given 17 years ago, a heart that is scared and let's fear have more control more than I'd admit...He's enough. I always go back to a prayer I prayed on my knees in 1999 at a church service that said "Lord, if its just me and You the rest of my life, I'm ok with that." And deep down in my heart, I am ok, all is well when I choose to look at my life with eyes of eternity. It's when I look at life through temporal eyes that fear takes control.

So today I CHOOSE to stand on the promises God has made, I CHOOSE to learn more of Who He is in the waiting, I CHOOSE to let others see the rawness and realness of my heart and to let God use my story to draw others in to know Him, I CHOOSE to continue to ASK, SEEK AND KNOCK. I choose to believe and know that He is ENOUGH.