Rich in Mercy: Nicaragua

God is rich in mercy. Incomparably rich. If there is one thing Jesus taught me in Nicaragua, it’s that He is rich in mercy. In a country full of brokenness beyond compare, there is a God whose mercy is flowing into the depths of society. And the depths of my soul.

We had the opportunity to work with Open Arms Church in Somoto, Nicaragua. And they have been named this for a reason. Their arms are open so wide. I’ve never seen a closer community of believers who delight in praising Jesus with all their souls and inviting everyone they can to join them. Throughout the week as we visited the community to share the gospel and pray for people, I saw a church who is passionate about the least of these. A church that is striving to love those whom others reject. From the shunned alcoholics to the broken teens, these people want to reach everyone in their community with the love of Jesus. This church truly has open arms. And it a beautiful picture of God’s mercy.

And it doesn’t stop with their communities. Our team found this same compassionate spirit towards our team. Whether it was the ladies who served us our meals or the pastor who wanted us to share with his church , these people made us feel like part of the familia. It was truly a blessing. And we did become part of their family. Our souls will forever be nit together.

But, God also showed me mercy personally and intimately. I specifically remember one day when Jesus let His mercy reign over me. In the morning we went out to houses to pray for church members. Nicaragua was a hard adjustment for me at the beginning of the week. And I wasn’t really in tune with the ministry we were doing that day. In fact, I had a really bad attitude. In one of the homes, we ended up singing worship songs. And the Lord began to break my heart and readjust my attitude. I was so grateful for His mercy in my life. Later that day He continued to show me His mercy. And it happened in a small town outside Somoto named Agua Caliente. Yes; the town is really called Hot Water. We played soccer with some of the kids from the community and afterwards we gathered all the kids around to share the gospel with them. Ryan had the opportunity to share his testimony and the gospel. As he stood their sharing his heart, I was blown away by God’s mercy. There he was, standing in Nicaragua, with beautiful mountains in the background sharing with these kids about Jesus. I realized just how merciful our God is. Who are we that He should take us across the world to be part of His plan for the nations? Who are we that He should love us? Who are we? We are undeserving sinners loved by an extraordinarily merciful God. A God who uses broken people to lead other broken people to the feet of the only hope in the world. Jesus. And that is a God who is deeply rich in mercy. A God who is worth giving our whole lives to: every single day.

“But because of his great love for us, God who is RICH IN MERCY has made you alive with Christ–even when you were dead in your transgressions. For God has raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that he might show the incomparable riches of his grace expressed in His kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and it is not of yourselves–not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works which He prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:4-10

Our God is a God of mercy. And His mercies are new every morning. Because we are unfaithful broken people. But His love for us is great, and what He has done in us through His grace is for his glory. He just desires for us to be so in love with Him, that even on the bad days we will receive His mercy. Our God is rich in mercy.

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Pleading for Restoration: Slovenia

Jesus is in the business of restoration. And Slovenia needs restoration. Although this small and obscure nation in Eastern Europe is one of the most beautiful places on earth, it is also a country full of darkness and bondage. At first I thought these people were simply lost, but it didn’t take long to realize they are really unreached–and they have been for generations and generations. These people serve a counterfeit Jesus and the yoke of Catholicism keeps them from seeing the true gospel. In all reality, the Protestant Reformation never reached this people group. They are a people in deep spiritual need.

From the moment I crossed the border into Slovenia, my heart became burdened for these people and this country. I’ve always had a tender heart for the unreached people groups of the world. I never thought I’d find them in Europe. But I did. In the mountains of Slovenia I found people whom God has created and loved trading the glory of Christ for images, rules, and regulations. It broke my heart. It’s still broken.

But even in the darkest corners of this world, there is light. There is hope. And the Lord revealed it to me through a story from His word:

“Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair. So the sisters sent word to Jesus, ‘Lord, the one you love is sick.’ When he heard this, Jesus said, ‘This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.’ Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. Yet when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days…On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem, and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home.
‘Lord,’Martha said to Jesus, ‘if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’ Martha answered, ‘I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’ ‘Yes, Lord, ‘she told him, ‘I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world.’ And after she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. ‘The Teacher is here,’ she said, ‘and is asking for you.’ When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him. Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there. When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.’ When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. ‘Where have you laid him?’ he asked. ‘Come and see, Lord,’ they replied. Jesus wept. Then the Jews said, ‘See how he loved him!’
But some of them said, ‘Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?’ Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. ‘Take away the stone,’ he said. ‘But, Lord,’ said Martha, the sister of the dead man, ‘by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.’ Then Jesus said, ‘Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?’ So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, ‘Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.’ When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “’Lazarus, come out!’ The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, ‘Take off the grave clothes and let him go.’ (John 11:1-6, 17-44 NIV84)

There are many encouraging things in this story. First, Jesus waited. He waited to heal Lazarus because it brought the Father and the Son the most glory. Death was not the end. Death would not have the final word. But at the time it didn’t make much sense to anyone. Jesus has waited to reveal himself to the Slovenian people, and it honestly doesn’t make much sense to me. Why? Why would he wait for hundreds of years to break their chains?

Secondly, the faith of Martha in Jesus. Her brother had been dead for four days and Jesus had yet to show up. I think I would’ve lost all hope. But Martha knew Jesus. An he had power, all consuming power. Her hope was in the fact that Jesus was the Messiah and even if she wouldn’t see her brother again until the resurrection, Jesus gave her hope. That is a beautiful picture of faith. I need to have the same faith in Jesus for the people of Slovenia. Looking around at the villages knowing there isn’t a single evangelical church in this region of Slovenia and only a handful of believers can seem pretty hopeless. It can seem pretty dead. Like over four hundred years of deadness. But, I need to have faith. Jesus is the resurrection and the life. And he can bring life to these people. He can bring life to his nation. He can bring life. I need to be more like Martha.

Thirdly, I love the heart of Mary. Jesus calls her and she immediately gets up and falls humbly at the feet of Jesus. This act of obedience caught people’s attention. And what does she do when she falls at the feet of her Savior? She honestly lays her heart before the Lord, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” She was honest. Then she began weeping. And what was Jesus’ response? His spirit was deeply moved. A humble and honest heart can move the heart of God. When we come to Him humbly and plead with Him for the cause of others I believe Jesus is moved to do something. When I come to Him humbly and plead with Him for the cause of Slovenia, I know Jesus is moved. And so I plead with Jesus for the people of Slovenia.

Finally, Jesus brings life to Lazarus’ body. A body that had been dead for four days. A hopeless cause. The Jesus we serve brought back life to a hopeless cause. And I don’t just believe, but I know that Jesus will bring life to the country of Slovenia. These beautiful people are not a hopeless cause. Because they are loved by the King of the universe. And His heart weeps for them. He desires to restore their lives. And He will. Life is coming to these people. I know it.

As Jesus’ heart was moved by the death of Lazarus, so my heart has been moved by the death of Slovenia. My heart has been moved. So I am beginning to pray about returning to Slovenia next summer. I ask that you would join in praying for me as I seek the Lord. If He is calling me, I want to quickly get up and go to Him and be where he is. Death is not the end for Slovenia. Jesus will have the final word. I know Slovenia needs something. Slovenia needs restoration. Slovenia needs Jesus.

“Lord, I pray for the people of Slovenia who have knowingly turned from you Father. The people who have rejected the real message of Jesus and traded it for an idol. I pray that the name of Jesus would be restored in this nation. The cross is enough! It is all these people need. God raise up this nation! Raise them up! Bring the name of Jesus high! He deserves all the glory in this nation. I pray that you’d bring revival! True revival. Lord bring these people to yourself. Bring glory to yourself in this nation. Restore their hearts! Jesus is Lord!”

Intimacy with my Jesus: Uganda

Dear Africa, how I’ve missed you! If there is one thing the Lord taught me during my time in Uganda, it was that there isn’t a moment the Lord doesn’t use to draw me closer to Himself. Heading out of India, the Lord was really showing me how simplicity brings out intimacy with Him.

Throughout the week, we worked at Lulwanda Children’s Home, where we helped out with various needs around their facilities and spend some time with the kids when they were out of school. I also had the incredible opportunity to learn from women on the mission field: Natalie and Lexi. But what the Lord did in my life throughout my time in Uganda was a lot bigger than painting and playing with kids. He revealed more of Himself to me.

“There’s no place I’d rather be
There’s no place I’d rather be
There’s no place I’d rather be
But here in your love
Here in your love

Set a fire down in my soul
That I can’t contain, that I can’t control
I want more of you God
I want more of you God.”

Set a Fire by Will Reagan

This song characterizes the cry of my heart: I want more of God. My time in Uganda taught me that the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus is greater than any other thing that I could have in all the world. There is no greater prize than knowing Him. It is the single greatest aim of my soul. The only place I want to be is in the middle of God’s love and in the middle of where God is working. And in the midst of that I desperately want more of God. I want Him to be the very core of my being. And I’ve come to realize that saying that takes a whole lot of faith–because in order to have more of Him means there will be less of me. “Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Those who love thief life will lose it, while those who hate Thor life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be” (John 12:25-26). And that is hard. But I know that it is the single greatest reward I could ever have. And I want my life to count for Jesus’ sake.

That means I have to give Him all of me–everyday. No matter the cost. It’s so easy to say. And so hard to live out. But that’s really what I want most. I want to be like Mary. I want to sit a Jesus’ feet. I want to take in His every word and breathe in His love. I want to press deeper into Jesus everyday. Intimacy with my Savior needs to be my heart’s desire every single day. And it’s not. But I’m learning that each day I do grow closer to my Jesus, my heart opens to deeper and more consistent intimacy. I am incredibly grateful that His grace has allowed me to understand this at twenty years old. Incredibly grateful.

I have fallen more in love with Jesus. And with that intimacy grows more and more trust as He ruins my life for the sake of the gospel. Jesus is not only a loving Savior. He is an intimate Savior. And He is worth everything.

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Playing with the kids at the orphanage.

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Patience.

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We climbed a mountain, it was beautiful.

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I fell in the river on the top of the mountain, but that’s another story.

Jesus My Everything: India

Jesus is my everything. If there is one thing that Jesus taught me in India, it is that when nothing else can comfort me, He can. In the midst of loving on about seventy orphans for ten days, I faced some of the hardest days of my life. But it was also some of the most beautiful and rich moments spiritually in my life. There is deep beauty in simplicity.

“Today I wake up in the heat of India. And when I say heat, I mean heat. I was drenched pretty much all night.” These were some of my first thoughts as I woke up my first morning in India. There is really no way to describe the heat in India. Literally you never stop sweating. And this is just one of the physical elements that stretched me. Throughout the week I experienced sleeping in uncomfortable beds, wearing the same skirt and t-shirt almost every day (you think I’m kidding, I’m not), taking bucket baths, drinking hot water, using unpleasant restrooms, and absolutely no air conditioning. It was hard—to be experiencing all of this in the midst of having to pour out all of yourself to love on some of the most precious kids in all the world. There were definitely moments of weakness and thoughts of just wanting to get through India and move on to the next country. But, I didn’t want Jesus to just be enough for “until I get to where it’s easy”, I wanted Him to be enough always.

In the midst of all the physical hardships, the Lord stripped me down to need Him and Him alone. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. And this is a really beautiful place to be. When you can’t find any place to stop sweating, Jesus has to relieve you. When you can’t drink any cold water, Jesus has to refresh you. When you can’t pick up one more kid, Jesus has to give you rest. Jesus showed me a glimpse of what it looks like to literally have to rely on Him for my strength—every part of it. And in these moments we grow indefinitely into our Creator in a deep and intimate way. We can’t be satisfied by anything else but Him. He was my only source of comfort and strength in this time. And it brought me to one of the most beautiful places: His nail pierced feet.

The Lord is so good to us and His grace is so sweet. I’ve learned that He loves us deeply and even when we are in the heat of India, we can pray and He will bring us rain. I’m smiling just thinking about it. Literally, I prayed one morning for rain (along with our whole team) and He brought rain. But even if He hadn’t brought the rain, He would still be faithful. And His grace would still be sweet. Because that is who our God is. He is rich in mercy and grace. And His provision is beyond anything our modern conveniences could provide for us. It is deeper, and wider, and stronger, and infinite. When I held and kissed and loved and embraced and spun and picked up and ran with and played this rock game over and over with these kids I saw the love, grace and goodness of our God. Who rescues us from the hopelessness of life and sets us in a family. Who takes kids who are nothing and turns them into beautiful children. Who takes an ordinary girl like me and gives me the opportunity to truly know Him in a deep and intimate way. That is a God worth serving. That is a Jesus who is full of goodness, love, mercy, justice, grace, and infinitely more unfathomable aspects of his character.

He is my Jesus. And I need Him to be my everything. Every single day.

“You are good, Lord.
The rivers of your sweet grace flow into the depths of my soul.
For I am thirsty.
Thirsty for your intimate spirit to commune with my brokenness and imperfection.
Deep calling to Deep.

You are good, Lord.
The riches of your abundant mercy settle into the depths of my being.
For I am yearning.
Yearning for your infinite presence to meet my deepest longings and desires.
Deep calling to Deep.

Your glory—with whom can I compare?
Your power—whom can fathom?
Your name—not one is greater.

You are good Lord.
The radiance of your unending love overwhelms all of me.
For I am your child.
And you gave your life for me.
For the World. In our sin and shame, in our filth and frustration, in our mire and clay.
You died. And You rose.
The Divinely deep calls to the deepest part of every soul.
And You still call.
You are good, Lord. You are so good.

-A Psalm of Sarah

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Prettie, I spent many hours loving this crazy girl.

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We spent many hours playing a rock game.

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As well as holding her.

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Seatull

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More kids from the orphanage.

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My group leading worship at the prayer service one evening.

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Ryan and I at the Taj Mahal.

God is Moving: East Asia

God is moving. If there is one thing I learned from East Asia, it is that God is moving. In more incredible ways then we could ever imagine. In a country with over 1.4 billion people and a very constricting government, the power of Jesus and His word is radiating in the lives of his children. And it is beautiful.

This week I had a glimpse into the beauty of what God is doing in East Asia. We had the opportunity to work with a young man, a recent college graduate, who is doing outreach on a college campus in one of the biggest cities of East Asia. He has an amazing ministry to the students on this campus. He literally just lives life with people an it is incredibly beautiful.

Our week consisted of sharing our faith with students on campus over lunch or on the basketball courts, encouraging believers and student leaders on campus over cultural dishes and rice, and experiencing the real faith of persecuted followers of Jesus. I’ve never felt so broken for a people who thought they’ve heard the name Jesus, have been blinded by their culture and government from knowing truly who He is. From an early age they are taught that there is no god. And they believe it. And in a culture where even parents can’t tell their own children and teenagers about religion, this ideology rampantly binds the hearts of many. There goal in life is to get an education, start a career, and have a family. Beyond this there is little hope. And many continue to remain blind under the unseen and unspoken oppression of this country.

But God is moving. He is moving in very powerful and tangible ways. Throughout the week we had the opportunity to hear the story of many believers and how they came to faith. Amidst their stories there seemed to be a common thread. “An American/foreigner was the first person to share with me the gospel.” And that was me and the other members of our team. We were the Americans who got to share our faith with this unreached people. From our lips by the power of the Holy Spirit people were able to hear the good news of Jesus. Isn’t our God incredible? That He could use us in our few short days there to eternally change the lives of a handful of people forever. Not to mention the future leaders of this country? He is incredible. And He is moving.

One story I’d like to share is about when Meghan (my evangelism partner) and I were able to share the gospel with this one girl. We had been walking around all day–seemingly aimless–trying to find a girl to talk to. After two hours of just praying and seeking the Lord we had the opportunity to share with Belinda. And her soul was so hungry. She devoured every word we shared with her about the love and grace of our great God through His Son Jesus. She even asked us, “So you can talk to God? And He replies.” It was a beautiful moment as we shared with her about the intimacy of Jesus and the deep relationship of the Father. The next day, the Lord provided us with a Bible in her heart language to give to her. This is just one moment of my experience in East Asia. God is moving. There are many other stories I am dying to share when I get home.

Although many could look at my time and experiences in East Asia as a picture of hopelessness, I see something completely different. I see a generation of believers who are so sold out to this idea of Jesus so much that they are risking their lives to meet together one night a week to simply meet read the Bible, fellowship, and worship in a hotel tucked away in the heart of a city. I see a government whose desire to quench the flames of this movement has only brought strength and unity among its followers. And I see a God who is sovereign and desperately loves the people of this land, culture, and language. A God who is relentlessly pursuing the children of this nation. A God who is moving. And I will be ever grateful that He allowed me to see a glimpse of it. A glimpse of His glory.

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She sang the ABC’s to us.

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We shared the gospel with these girls.

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We got to love on these kids in the slums.

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God is moving.

Meet the Team

Meet the wonderful Grey team!!

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Back Row: Joseph Chang, Meghan Mazerolle, Ryan Pursley, Blake Bearden, Lindsay Mayfield
Front Row: Laura Randolph, Sarah Dickerson, Jackie Nance, Shawnta McNeel

I’m so excited to work with these people this summer!! I LOVE them already and it’s only been a couple of days! We are going to have an incredible time this summer!! I can’t wait to see what the Lord does through us! 🙂

Also this is the Navy team! We trained with them and we will all serve together in India! Love them too!!

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Excited to see what the Lord does! We hop on our first plane in about thirty minutes! May the traveling begin!!!

The Many Faces

I am reminded that this summer will be full of faces. Faces of people who are dearly loved by their Creator. Faces of people with hurt and pain. Faces of people who need to know about the saving power of Jesus. There will be many faces I encounter this summer, but I pray that the most glorious face that will been seen this summer by all is the face of God. I pray that He will come with His powerful, glorious presence and capture all of our hearts.

“Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek your face, O God of Jacob.” Psalm 24:6

“May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine upon us, that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations.” Psalm 67:1

The students of East Asia

The children of India

The orphans of Uganda

The villagers of Slovenia

The teens of Nicaragua

Becoming all things…

“Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law) so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.” 1 Corinthians 9:19-23

One thing I love about God is His creativity. Whether I am observing nature or friends, there is such a uniqueness about how He creates things. I love that about him! Especially because I love being creative and making things myself.

Well you see, the past two days I have been reading in Acts–which by the way is a great book since it’s all about the early church. Read it! Anyway, I was in the chapter 16 and 17. Let me paint a picture of how Paul shared the gospel:

Lydia is a fairly wealthy and successful woman from Thyatira.
Paul was on his way to pray and he sat down and talked to a group of women.
He just sat down and shared the gospel with them.
And the Lord open up Lydia’s heart to believe.

Next, there is a Philippian jailer who seem very adamant about keeping Paul and Silas in line.
Paul and Silas, by the way, found themselves in jail. They rebuked an evil spirit that was making people money. The men obviously didn’t like that.
Paul and Silas are singing hymns and praying late into the night.
There is an earthquake, all the doors are opened, but no one leaves.
A miracle literally happens. No one LEAVES. Hello!
The jailer begs Paul to share with him the gospel of Jesus.
His whole family ends up believing.

Finally, a group of Jews and God-fearing Greeks in Thessalonica.
Paul spends three Sabbaths reasoning, explaining, and proving.
And they are persuaded.
To follow Jesus Christ.

Not one of these conversion experiences is the same. Not one of these people is the same. They are unique. And so is the how Lord presented his good news to them. Sometimes we get caught up in the outlines and the jargon when we share our faith. We think there is only one way to spread the gospel. What are we thinking? Each of these people Paul shared the truth with heard in a different way. Some needed to have a simple talk. Some needed a miracle. And some needed reasoning. But they all need Jesus.

I am reminded that when I share Jesus this summer, each of the individuals is different. They need to hear the gospel in a different way. Am I prepared for that? Am I willing to believe the Spirit enough to become all things for all people? I want to see people come to Jesus just from a simple conversation. I want to see people come to Jesus just from reasoning through the gospel. And I want to see people come to Jesus through miracles.

I pray the Holy Spirit would be empowering me this summer and I would believe in the Spirit of Acts. He is the same today as He was back them. He can come with flaming tongues of fire or a gentle moving of the wind. Above all, I pray the Holy Spirit would move through me unhindered this summer, so that I can become all things for all people so to win them to Christ.

A Faithful Generation

“God is within in her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.” Psalm 46:5

I had my whole day planned. My bags were packed, my car was in the closest parking lot possible, and my boss knew I wouldn’t be in that day. I had 2 hours and 15 minutes to make a 2 hour car ride. Everything would go smoothly. Or at least so I thought. It all started going downhill when my teacher seemed to want to hold our class over five minutes. Five minutes I absolutely did not have. As I rush down the interstate, everything seems to be going fine despite my delay. Then I get to the last thirty  minutes of the drive. A drive through Tyler, Texas. A town unlike Dallas with its appealing freeways. A town with slow speed limits and lingering red lights. Needless to say, I had a hard time staying calm. I probably looked like an absolutely crazy person at some of those red lights, as I anxiously yelled at the light and talked to myself about how I could not deal with this right now. It’s kind of embarrassing really. I had been running like a chicken with her head cut off all day long. I was overwhelmed. I was worried. I was faithless.

In the midst of crazy schedules, final papers, and demands form classes, work, and church wrapping up the semester can seem overwhelming for all of us. Projects and exams continue to build up, and somehow it almost always ends up being due on the same day. The end of the semester seems so near to our reach, and yet at the same it seems forever away.

To add to all that, I’m reminded in my own life that I have to raise $7500 to go on my summer mission trip. If this doesn’t seem impossible for a college student, I also  had to raise it within six months. Ah! Feeling overwhelmed, worried, and stressed has been common place for me the past few months. I have been one anxious woman.

However, even in this anxious semester, the Lord has proven himself over, and over, and over. See sometimes in the middle of seasons like this in our life we can hear verses like Philippians 4:6-7 (Don’t be anxious about anything…), Matthew 6:25-34 (…your heavenly Father knows that you need them), and others that are supposed encourage us. I’m not sure about you, but sometimes those are hard to listen to when I don’t have enough time to study, the money is not coming in, or I‘m late and I hit EVERY red light in town. Sometimes in those moments, God’s word is hard to swallow. Or if we are honest, hard to believe.

And then I’m sitting in class one day, and a professor teaches me something so profound I’m amazed no one has ever explained this truth to me in such a way as he di. (And let me just take a moment to say how thankful I am for Ron Proctor and his commitment to allowing Jesus to passionately teach students, not Ron Proctor.) See he explained to me that faith was not just simply believing. It was not simply trust. Cause I mean, has anyone actually taught us what real trust in God look like anyway?  He said, “Faith is believing that God’s word is true despite our circumstances, our feelings, and our culture.” Do we see that? Our faith/trust/belief in God is not wrapped up in what’s going on around us. It is absolutely wrapped up in God’s word and truth. My present reality says I don’t have the money. God’s word says, “They did not thirst when he led them through the deserts; he made water flow for them from the rock; he split the rock and water gushed out” (Isaiah 49:21). My present reality says I am overwhelmed with work, school, and church. God’s word says, “Seek first the kingdom of God and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). Faith is believing that God’s word is TRUE and REAL, no matter how REAL and CONTRADICTORY our circumstances may feel.

And you know what happens when we think like this? Then when we read God’s word in the midst of our challenges, sufferings, pain, despair, anxiety, fear, hardships, and so much more, we see God’s word as our rock. God’s word as our truth. God’s word as our reality. Jesus as our reality. We  need to take of the blinders of this world, and look through heaven’s eyes. We need to set our minds on things above. We desperately need to be transformed by the renewing of our mind.

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
Though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Come and see what the Lord has done, the desolation he has brought on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire.
‘Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.’

The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.” Psalm 46

Though your whole life my fall into the heart of the sea, God is your refuge and strength. Make his word your reality, despite what your circumstances tell you. He is God. The Almighty is with us. See what He has done. And we will no longer be a faithless people. We will be a generation who is faithful.

The Gospel in Me…

“For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”
2 Corinthians 5:14-17

Fear, guilt, and self-righteousness are not the motivators to share the gospel. We don’t share because we are afraid of Judgement Day and that our life won’t count. We don’t share because we will feel guilty if our friend is destined for hell. And we don’t share because it will add another jewel to our crown. We share, because of love.

See, Christ loves us. Do we truly believe that? I mean do we really understand how high, wide, deep is the love of Christ? He died for us. He rose again for us. And He is coming again for us. Jesus absolutely loves us. And Paul says that Christ’s love is what should compel us to share the news about Jesus. Nothing else.

Do we really understand what God has done for us? He has thrown your sin as far as the East is from the West. He has put your sin behind His back. He erases your sin and remembers it no more. He tramples your sin under his foot and hurls it into the sea. You are forgiven. You are a NEW creation. That is the gospel. In order for us to ever be motivated to share with others out of love, we have to understand his great love and mercy in our own lives.

Ask the Lord to reveal to you the gospel. Not that you would understand it in the terms faith and salvation, but that you would begin to understand the depth of it. And as you do, you will feel his love flood over you like a strong ocean wave. And I believe you will grow to see His love and the gospel will flow out of you.

I don’t know about you, but I needed to be reminded of this today.