Friday, February 25, 2011

Dear restless heart...

It's been a restless couple of weeks for me.  In all the uncertainty around us,  the worst part is feeling like I am alone in it.  I could handle the questions, the doubt, and the circumstances if I felt like God was really listening.  But it was one of those Dark Night times, and instead of pressing on, I gave up for a while. 
Then suddenly, as quickly as it appeared, it started to fade away.  And the haze of unbelief and worry I was in started to clear.  And I could breathe again.  And God was there - as he had been all along - in a more real an intimate way than before. 
I don't pretend to understand his ways.  Part of me wants to, because I am such a control freak!  But a bigger part of me knows that one of the reasons I cannot understand is because he is so much more than I can fathom - and would I really want to worship and follow a God that was completely understandable?
I have been reading Streams in Desert and journaling through that recently.  Last night I read this poem:

Dear restless heart, be still; don't fret and worry so;
God has a thousand ways his love and help to show; 
Just trust, and trust, and trust until his will you know.

Dear restless heart, be still; for peace is God's own smile,
His love can every wrong and sorrow reconcile;
Just love, and love, and love, and calmly wait a while.

Dear restless heart, be brave; don't moan and sorrow so,
He hath a meaning kind in chilly winds that blow; 
Just hope, and hope, and hope, until you braver grow.

Dear restless heart, repose upon his breast this hour. 
His grace is strength and life, his love is bloom and flower;
Just rest, and rest, and rest, within his tender power.

Dear restless heart, be still!  Don't struggle to be free;
God's life is in your life, from him you may not flee;
Just pray, and pray, and pray, till you have faith to see.

-Edith Willis Linn

May this poem bless you today! 



Tuesday, February 15, 2011

impossible, difficult, done

"I have found that there are three stages in every great work of God:  First, it is impossible, then it is difficult, then it is done."  -Hudson Taylor

I heard this on the radio today as I was driving home from the church and it really struck me.  There are a lot of things in our life right now that seem like they may be difficult - or even impossible, and they are all things that we are looking to God to work through.  I know in my heart that his timing is always perfect and right, but my head has been fighting against that logic!
The other day the church treasurer left the financial statement on Shawn's desk.  We have just about enough to get through three more months of church. Three months.  That is not a long time.
When we first came here we committed to one year.  A year later it seemed that God was moving in some things that had happened that summer with a  missions trip from the Rome church and people being saved and lives changed.  There were not other things on the horizon, and we were happy to be here and be a part of what was going on.  We felt that God had big plans for this place.
Between then and now there have been a lot of things that have happened (or not happened) in this place and in our lives.  The church went from growing and seeming like it was going to make it, to knocking on death's door over the summer of 2010.  And we really have no idea why.  The people that were here were praying, loving each other, reaching out - yet things kept slipping away.  It does not take a long time for a church of less than 20 to reach a point where we ask the question "What's next?"
And God saw fit to answer that.  In the fall we started "Compelled" on Wednesday nights.  We are currently getting new people each week, and have seen several people come to know Jesus or come back to him.  I see students and families excited about reaching their friends.  For the first time in probably 20 years in this church there is excitement in the adults - and life!  We have been learning over and over again about running back into the Father's arms and resting in his love- of who we are in the eyes of God!
Yet it feels like we are on a time crunch.  This finance thing is a real block in the very near future if God does not somehow miraculously intervene.
Then there is the added complication of our desire to be back overseas.  We are currently still pursuing (as a family) heading to Sudan for full time ministry through World Harvest Missions.  We went to Assessment and Orientation back in December thinking we would leave with more of a time line and definition of our future as a family.  However, due to some things like psychological tests not being readable and the fact that they want us to do some counseling about a few things first, that was not the case.  We had been hoping to know if we should look as doing some short term ministry while raising funds, or to know if we were not going overseas and decide what or where to look at next.
Instead we had more question marks.  So now we ask - what is next?  Do we trust that God is going to do something miraculous really soon and we can stay here?  We are willing to do this.  We have even talked about moving into the church and looking at part time jobs.  Do we put out resumes?  If so, for what length of time - interim or long term?  Are we giving up if we do that and have we failed this church?  How does this longing to be overseas fit with all these things?  These are all questions that do not have easy answers.  Many people have told my husband that he should get his resume out - three months is not a great amount of time to get a job of any sort right now.  Yet how does he do that when he prays each day about what he should do and repeatedly gets the answers of  "trust me" and "rest" and "I will provide" ?
So when I heard that quote today it was a reminder that God really is in control.  Our lives and ministry are a great work of God.  This time right now seems impossible.  I have no doubt that the next few months will be difficult.  Then suddenly it will be done- and it will be done exactly how He planned it to be.  Perfectly in his way and his time.
I am choosing to believe this.  Would you pray with my family as we trust. Lord we believe, help our unbelief.

Friday, February 11, 2011

trust

When the Massos left yesterday to go on to their next destination, there were some tears and sadness here in our home.  The kids had connected rather quickly, and really enjoyed each other.  So did the adults.  God was good, and as we spent a couple of days at Silver Bay trudging through waist-deep snow, sledding, snowshoeing, building forts, playing board games and card games, sleeping in a little, being fed and cleaned up after, we got to know each other a little better. 
One of the really cool things for me was the chance to have them speak at Compelled on Wednesday night.  This church has heard much about Sudan from us since October, but to have some people that have actually been investing their lives there was a huge thing.  And it was neat for us to have them see us in a setting that is comfortable and normal for us-to see how we work, live, and think.  When we were in Sudan we saw that for them, but so often I felt like I was navigating a maze and trying to think of every question I should ask before we left. 
We continue to pray for God's will in our lives.  To me this seems complicated - how does everything fit together?  What about the timing of things?  Does the longing of all our hearts have any real leading to what will happen?
It is a matter of trust.  Trust that God really does have a plan for our lives - as a family, and as individuals within this family.  Trust that he really loves us more than we can ever fathom, and that his plans are for our best, not matter how they seem to play out or what we think we want or deserve.  Trust that his arms are always open to me and that he calls me to rest in them and not to fret and live in anxiety. 



Thank for your prayers and love to us!

Monday, February 7, 2011

hopes

Well, we are getting ready to head to Silver Bay, Lake George for a few days with the Masso family from Sudan.  They got here last night, and the kids have made fast friendships and are really enjoying each other.  After a few crowded hours in our house - with 11 people trying to get to know each other - we decided to go to the church and let the kids play sardines in the dark together.  It was a good idea, and much energy was released! :)  This morning we are waiting as the Masso's van is in the shop getting new bakes, and I am praying that our car (which is making a big clunking sound) makes it there and back with no problems!
The biggest reason for this get together was to let the kids meet each other and take some times to get to know each other better as families.  I am thankful  for this place at Silver Bay that lets pastors and missionaries stay  and eat for free, so we have some space, some time to relax and laugh together, and a chance to talk and really get to know each other more.  The problem with all this is that I REALLY like the Masso family.  This would not be a problem, except that (if I am being honest) the combination of the Masso family and my heart and longing for Africa makes the scariness of not knowing anything about our future even more potent.  I want to go to Africa.  I want to be a part of this team.  Yet I may not be able to.  God may have other plans.  And right all of those plans and paths for out future are murky at best.  I am scared to want it too much and then be disappointed.
But I can't live life that way, and refuse to allow myself to go into safety mode and hibernate.  I will continue praying for this church, for our future, for my kids, for God's plan and will to unfold in my life, and for myself to know that his plan is the absolute best for me because it is done from perfect love.