We often search for the ‘why?’ in everything. I definitely know I do. If we could figure it out, then we could understand it, prevent it, see what we did wrong, and go on. In some cases, this is a good thing. But when it comes to understanding pain and suffering, God’s grace and mercy, these are waters that are too deep and complex to analyze as if we could figure out God’s motives in the tenderest happenings in our lives. We are ill fit to understand the mind of God or comprehend his meaning behind the events in our lives and others.
We believe lies that appear to be truth for our situations and try to make them applicable to all situations. For example, in my life, 2 years ago I was engaged to be married and then it ended after 5 months. I learned so much through this experience that was excruciatingly painful. I learned about my idolatry of marriage, my need for control (for the millionth time!) and the lust that still existed in my heart that I thought was gone. It was a mercy that I didn’t get married at that time. But it would be too easy for me to believe that because I didn’t see the idolatry in my heart, control, or lust that that was the reason why God didn’t allow it to work out. As if God only gives me good gifts when I’ve got things figured out or have pure motives. What makes me realize that this isn’t true is, when I think about those who did have idolatry issues of marriage in their heart and they didn’t deal with them until 5, 10, 20 years into marriage; those who still have lust issues and are married. More importantly is the fact that we don’t earn God’s blessings or favor. Jesus did that for us so why do I think I will only have blessings when I am righteous (which my righteousness doesn’t even come from me, but Him!?)
So what does that mean? Yes, God did use a painful situation to redeem things in my life and strip me of what was idolatry in my heart, but that doesn’t mean that He inflicted the pain, nor is it a result of something I did. It is a result of living in a broken world that is affected by sin. No one is immune from it; not even little babies. What God uses in one person’s life, he may use differently in someone else’s. There is no rhyme or reason that we can understand. The beauty of grace, mercy, and the gospel of Jesus is I can’t earn it, control it, or really understand it. I just get to receive it and rejoice in a God who loved me so much that he endured my punishment for me because I could never repay back the debt I owed Him for my sin against him.
So in my search for trying to understand why-- especially with Corban being born having Leukemoid reaction and Down syndrome—is just the same. I will never been able to understand why beyond the fact that I live in a broken world and no one is immune from the effects of sin. Babies are not supposed to be born sick. I am grateful for my sweet friends who have validated my anger and hurt I feel at him being born so severely sick. I have feared getting too wrapped up in my anger that I can’t see what is true. At the heart of my anger there is rage that wants to protect this little baby who is defenseless and hurt that this happened, but what really lies behind this is an accusation to God of how dare you let this little baby suffer like this. Are you protecting him? How did you let him be born like this?
What I do know to be true when I calm down and let God’s peace wash over me is that God is good, He weeps more than I could ever weep for this little baby—which has been a lot in the last 24 hours—and that He can protect him better than I can, and that this little baby is His. I love Karla’s prayer last night. She prayed that Nina would know that God is not a baby thief. Everything we have is His and He loves us much more than we do and He wants what is best much more than we do. Though I don’t understand why this happened and why God allowed it, I do know that He has this situation in His hands. He hasn’t checked out and He will do what is best. I am believing for full healing of Corban for the Lord’s glory. And at the same time, if he isn’t healed, I will praise His name through tears and weeping, trusting that God is still good.
Perfectionism is a lack of trust and a refusal to let go of your own strength. If I can't say everything I want to say or write and I refuse to write it (because I can't write it the way I want to write it) or I end up forcing it all in, then I am not trusting God that He is enough, that He is sovereign, and that He doesn't need me. I am buying into the lie that I am smarter, wiser, and more important than God and the parameters He put in my life. If He only gives me so long to speak or so much space to write, I got to trust that it was all I needed and is a safety for me and the people I am endeavoring to minister to and that they are His words--not mine--and He can speak whatever He wants to speak to His people.
How grateful I am for the cross.
Freedom so grand
Purchased at great cost.
Freedom not to purposefully sin,
But freedom from fears grip
Of stumbling again.
Should I stumble again,
I know that I am free
To look shame in the face,
And proclaim “Jesus makes me clean.”
Therefore, in my life you have no place:
To bind my feet
To bind my hands
To bind my lips
From the fullness of life
Lovingly given from He.
Who in my place,
The perfect one,
Bore all the wrath
I had won.
The condemnation, the guilt,
The shame was mine.
His righteousness He exchanged
Out of love divine.
The purchased rights to my life
No longer mine.
My feet, hands and lips
A new master they find.
Your accusations of guilt
Can no longer come to me,
But must be answered
By He that redeemed.
To you, I assure you
He’ll simply reply,
The debt has been paid.
This beloved one is mine.
But this semester I hit crisis mode early on right before Spring Break. I had a week and a half where I had some major project, presentation, test, meeting, or paper due every stinkin’ day. By the end of the week and a half, I was as nutty as peanut butter. I wore myopic lenses only able to see minute details and as a result, spent hours upon hours on details for my German presentation that were not necessary, but bent on being perfect and found without fault, i.e. shame. I was stuck in the insanity cycle of perfection and control and couldn’t get out of it to save my life. I was having panic attacks and bouts of depression and wound so tight you could pop me with a dull object. Familiar with this scenario and knowing historically how clueless I had been to understand this phenomenon, I stopped and took a good look at what was going on in my heart and asked for counsel from friends, and of course, the good old Holy Spirit had a lot to say to me on this issue as well. I realized that I had been vainly putting all my hope and effort into school to derive my identity. This was not conscious, but rather facts I was believing about myself coming to the surface, warring with reality. It is not that I thought my life would end if I did not do well on a test/ class and get an A, but rather I felt I am not stupid and should be making A’s regardless of circumstances and life because I am untouchable as superwoman you know, and therefore, if I don’t achieve near perfection on these tests/papers, I am completely shaken up.
The fear of not doing well is what keeps me from doing them in the first place, paralyzing me from even making an effort. The problem with this is an inability to see the gospel in my circumstances. I am NOT perfect and am not immune to life and circumstances so why do I think I am the one exception and can overcome anything that comes my way? I cannot justify myself by academia and it does not define me. Christ doesn’t need my credentials in my diploma to use me. He is God in heaven and does whatever He pleases with whomever. I, in my flesh, demand that I perform to a very high standard and am mad if I don’t meet it, and yet Christ does not put this restriction on me and is not upset with me when I fall short of it. He definitely asks me to do my best, but perfection is not my best. That is idolatry of myself and not wanting to need Christ in ALL things. I also realized that all my schooling has never been in attempts to glorify Christ, but rather to glorify myself. I felt like I was the one busting my hump to learn all these languages, trying to comprehend them and studying till the wee hours of the evening. Shouldn’t I get the credit for this? I mean I am the one killing myself for it, right? WRONG. If there is anything that I have done well, I cannot take credit for it because it was given to me as a gift from God to use for His glory and not mine. I am a glory thief and have thieved from God for a long time. The biggest reality check I had was realizing that I had been trying to use school/academia to prove my worth, keep me from needing Christ, and bring praise to myself. Praise God that the Spirit He put in me is jealous and desires all of my heart to be fully His. God thwarted my plans and I am so grateful for it. Grateful that it was way earlier than normal—this is God’s mercy on me because He rightfully could have let me flounder in it for the millionth time. Thankfully, God is merciful and gracious and is ferocious about chasing after my wandering heart. He never gives up on me and loves me so much better than I love Him and others. I am continuously in awe.
**Sigh** I am so relieved to be sitting here in this coffee shop, able to be at peace at the tail end of a long trying semester. He is so good to me :)
I have so many mixed feelings today.
I am overwhelmed by the light that has come into the world and rescued this soul from the darkness...surprised at the darkness that still prevails around me...inundated by christmas traditions that are fun, but don't give me more of Christ....loving that we had a white Christmas....homesick for Hamburg and Europe as I peruse over pictures from this last year and remember sweet memories of places and friends...but assured that it is only the will of God that brought me back home to Texas...there is no other explanation. I think I will begin to write more about the last year in this blog...
Haven't touched this in a long time. Probably because nobody reads this thing, but I will continue to write now that it isn't overwhelming to me anymore. Maybe a little therapeutic :)
Merry Christmas everyone!
The photo above is the entrance to the Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas Market) in Hamburg downtown at Gehardt Hauptman Platz. We went Christmas caroling here last year!
Oh, wow. It is only hours away before I leave for Bella Italia. I cannot believe it! It is too surreal to think that I will be in the place that 5 years ago sparked this passion for missions, culture, languages and everything beautiful and passionate! Italy has such a special place in my heart. God began to pull threads here, unraveling my disillusioned world. When I was in Milano I began to think about what it meant to really follow God and what a godly woman looks like. I remember coming back from this trip with this passion to follow God and seek Him out with everything.
Thus started my search for a ministry and on my second day on UNT campus I found the Navigators. Through my interactions with this group a long process began where God would not let me rest in my sinful, mediocre, "good" american life. He ferociously fought for my heart and He still does.
How good, wonderful, and lovely is our Lord! He is so extravagant in His means to pursue my heart. Truly. He has has sent me all over the world just to know Him more deeply and intimately. Nothing is too lavish for Him. I am so overwhelmed as I think about all that God has done for me and how He has pursued me and rescued me from the darkness in my heart. I cannot describe the joy that floods my soul.
How good you are oh Lord! Thank you for this chance to go back to such a special place in my heart. Thank you that you have reminded me of all you have done in my life. You are my King, my God, my Lover who chases after all of me. You are the source of life and I have nothing apart from you. You sustain me and give me unending joy unlike anything I have experienced. I am consumed with you. Wrapped up in you. I am yours.
For those of you praying for this trip, I thank you so much. I will not have contact during the week so I will tell you now what you can pray about. 1) That my heart would be open to hear from God on what He wants for my life 2) Protection from the enemy--Italy has a lot of spiritual warfare here especially with the evangelical church 3) That we would be a blessing to the missionaries and students we meet 4) That God would be glorified in this trip and that we would make the most of His name and not ours.
I love you guys and I thank you so much for sojourning with me.
And that is exactly what I have received. I have been sick for the last 5 days with, I think, strep (I saw a sign on the kindergarten door saying "We have strep, watch out"--might have been helpful a week ago when I contracted it from these cute little urchins) So I have been slowed down very much over the last 5 days. I took off work on Thursday and some of Friday. This is huge for me because I felt like I couldn't take off work when I just started only 6 weeks ago. I have realized so many things in this time period. I am not invincible. I break easily. Amazing revelation, I know. But it is true. If it were up to me, I would be running around on a broken leg saying "No problem, it's okay, really I still have one leg I can walk on. I'm fine."
I realized I don't know how to just be still. Even when I was sick, I felt so guilty that I had all this time and I wasn't using it efficiently for good purposes like studying more grammar or reorganizing my room etc. Nuts, I know! I also have been smacked in the face with my perfectionism. I have been believing these lies that I need to be doing well and be on top of my a-game and when I sin I need to immediately confess it and do a,b,c etc and then everything will work out well and my ministry will go well and the participants will be experiencing wholeness and healing and if I am not praying for them and waging war on their behalf and imparting all of God's wisdom to them, then they won't experience all that Christ has for them.---Can anyone see the ludicrousness of this thinking and behavior?? Well for a long time I could not. Praise God that wholeness and healing for the people attending Recovery does not depend on my relationship with God and that He is the one who is sufficient and ultimately responsible for imparting His glory to them and not me! What a relief!
It was made known to me that in my trying to be perfect it had nothing to do with pointing people to God, but pointing people to me and how God has worked in my life. So when things were going wrong, I began to feel exposed and feel like I need to do better because if I struggle then what I am teaching at Recovery about God is a lie because I can't find the sufficiency in Christ myself, therefore it is a farse and not worth the time. So I have been trying to make much of my name and not His. How twisted is that and how did I get there? That something where God has worked gloriously in me and something that was pure and right, turned so wicked so quick. I feel like Peter, but I don't want to be Peter. In the wicked parts of me, I want to be God, to be perfect and not have to be dependent on anyone and I can always be in control at all times. Do you think I might be feeling a bit out of control at the moment??
But thankfully God's grace is available at any moment and I don't have to earn it, but just repent of my wicked ways and accept it. God is so gracious and loving that He makes my heart alive again without demanding perfection. He is perfect and that is enough. He is also loving in that He promises to work on my wicked heart, but this is a lifetime process. Not instant.
Phillipians 2:12b-13 "Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God who works in you to will and act according to His good purposes."
I was listening to the podcast from TVC Denton and it was Lan preaching. He made this comment about what was written on Billy Graham's wife's tombstone. "Construction completed. Thanks for your patience."
That really struck a chord with me. We are like this big construction zone the whole time we are here on earth. It is going to be messy, but it is okay. We have been given enough grace to carry us through it and it doesn't mean that we are disqualified to lead others because we don't have it all together. What qualifies us has nothing to do with our performance, but rather our willingness to be used. Period. God is the one who does the work. He has all the power and might. We can't save people. I can't save people. Jesus can save people.
So I confess, I am a complete mess, but maybe you knew that already ;)