Tuesday, August 19, 2014

when things don't go according to plan... He knows.

So. It's been quite the adventure here in the Baja. One of those adventures that hasn't really gone according to my plans... but then it wouldn't be an adventure, would it? I came down here to serve – and I'm stuck in bed for a week sick? What? But what's so amazing is that no matter where you are Jesus is there too. Can I share a quick story?

Last week I was sick and in the bathroom a lot. When it cleared thought it was just a virus, and then it came back Monday morning, causing my mom to think that it was bacteria-related. So after being up since 2 am throwing up Mom got me into the car at around 7:30 and we drove through town to the government hospital.

Note: 'government hospital' does not mean America's government hospitals. No, there is a big difference between the American hospital and the Mexican hospital. And a big difference between medical terminology in English and medical terminology in Spanish.

So we get to the hospital. I laugh thinking about how horrified my grandmother would be to discover me being treated there... it was not the most sanitary. And this was a nice hospital. Yet now I was trying not to throw up because of the smell, not just because I was sick. I was surrounded by dirty walls, dirty floors, dirty clothes, dirty people. Yet here I found Jesus. In a place where no one spoke a lick of English there happened to be one man – who looked like he was about to die – who spoke my language. And the first thing he asks me? If I'm a Christian, and if his pastor could pray for me to be healed. So up comes the pastor, lays hands on my head, and begins to pray for me in Spanish. I so felt the Spirit there.

I sat there a while, trying not to get even more sick, leaning my head on Mom as I tried to keep warm. Another note: don't wear shorts in the morning. Mexico mornings are very, very cold. So Mom is standing next to me, and the pastor who had previously prayed for me said something to two men who were seated next to me. They got up, and offered Mom their seats. And then the hearts of these people... it was beautiful. They asked me to go before all of them (and there were a lot of people in there waiting to be seen!) to see the doctor. I nearly cried. I still had to wait a while to see the doctor, but that they would offer for me to go first... I don't know, but it touched me. So then comes the doctor's office. She was a nice woman, dressed well and clean. I'm trying to forget that she didn't wear any gloves or didn't wash her hands before feeling my stomach, but some things are different here. :)  I was so grateful that even though I can't speak a lot of Spanish, I can understand most of what is being spoken to me (depending on what is being spoken to me), and that she spoke a tiny little bit of English. It was enough to communicate, and she confirmed what Mom thought. It was a bacterial thing. She prescribed an anti-biotic, and as I'm taking it I asked Mom, "Do we believe in anti-biotics?" Yes, I'm not used to taking medicine, so taking something to kill the bacteria in my stomach is a little different. :)

But this morning I am doing so much better. I have been prayed for by so many people, blessed beyond measure by the things people are doing to make sure I'm okay, and am expectant to learn exactly what the Lord is teaching me through all this. Because it's part of His plan. This was not a surprise to Him, though it wasn't on my schedule.  But it really was just amazing to see Jesus even in the place where I felt Him the least. Where I felt so alone, scared, and sick. He is always there! Isn't that such an encouragement? To know that the God of the universe is here for us? That He is for us, in general? I am so blessed by that knowledge. To know that He knew this was coming. That He has it all under control. That He is there. Here. With me. And with you. So rejoice in all things.

Be blessed, and comforted, by that fact today.

||Heal me, O LORD, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved: for thou art my praise.
Jeremiah 17:14

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

my love. & his love.

Loving is hard. A whole lot harder than I imagined. It hurts. It's uncomfortable. I don't like pain, and pain can come hand in hand with the whole love thing. It's tiring. I can't think of anything that has drained me like attempting to love has.  Loving = giving.  And oftentimes we don't have anything to give. So, we can't love.  Really? Let's put it this way: we can't love like Jesus.

Loving like Jesus falls into a whole other category. I am quite good at loving like I love... the only problem is that it's an imitation love. It's not true love. So I find out rather quickly that I don't "love" as well when the going gets rough. When the baby cries and screams and refuses to cooperate instead of cooing nicely in my arms. When I have to give up my comforts to help someone else. When I am not given the desires of... me. So I burn out. I fail. I've discovered, once again, that I can't do this thing. My love, compared to Jesus, is a cheap imitation of the real deal. It is a holy, holy, holy love... and I've fallen short once again.

Yet it's not like I don't know what love looks like. I do. I understand that attempting to do things in my own strength will never work. I know that responding in my flesh is something that will only do harm to my soul. I know that when the going gets tough I am not supposed to look for an escape to coddle my selfish desires, but that I am to be found in Christ. So why can't I get it? Isn't knowing this enough to change me? Why won't my clock tick?

I have been raised knowing the Truth, and that is a dangerous way to be raised. I mean, yes, it is simply amazing that I know this stuff when millions of people around the globe don't, but when I know and don't live, my Christianity borders religion instead of relationship. I have been raised building my clock to tick a song of worship and tick a life of righteous love, and yet I seem to stare at it, wondering why, yet again, after so many attempts and times of trying to figure it out, it won't tick. My clock won't work. And neither will my Christianity. I get tired. But knowing is not enough.

To truly love I have to be dead to me. I can't just know about freedom, or what Jesus accomplished for me on the Cross, or what life and grace and power I have available through His Spirit. I have to be so dead to myself that there is no more room in my life for the things of old. I want to be so yielding to the Spirit of God in my life that I simply love like Him, that I look like Him, that I talk like Him. So that there is no more me. Do you get it? I surrender my all to Christ. My strength. My efforts. My love. I exchange it for His version. His strength. His effort. His love. Truly, only when a vessel is surrendered wholly to the Creator, can the vessel be filled. Only then will pouring out be a joy – a delight! Only when my life is not my own can I find fulfillment and happiness, truth and peace, and no more cheap imitation loves. The life in Christ that I get when I am dead to me is simply amazing! And not only to be dead to me but to be in my God. !!!  The concept is hard to wrap my head around, yet He did it. He has provided a way for the love we conjure up to fade, while His love shines bright and eternal. And there's nothing more that I want than His love to radiate from me.

So let's go after that.