October 25, 2012

Glorious Meetings

Back to this summer with God...
By Wednesday of that first week of WMI, I was fairly certain that I should just go home.  There was no way I would be able to be a missionary; I didn't have any of what it takes to serve in another country.  And I was far too broken inside to be of any use to anyone anywhere.  However as the week went on and we spent the weekend in Philadelphia, I started to meet God.
If you're at all familiar with the Gospels and the book of Acts (if not you should be!) then this will make sense to you in your head but perhaps not in your heart.  But basically I started to ask myself these questions of who is Jesus? What does He offer us? How does He work? Where does He work and with whom?  Really basic questions with simple answers but each answer also has a deeper meaning that I was maybe familiar with but really didn't have a good grasp of what they truly meant.  I really realized this summer that there is absolutely nothing written in Scripture that doesn't have significance--it is our job to find it and to seek the answers from our God.
But back to the questions...
Jesus is of course the Son of God, our Savior and Redeemer, our Father and Friend!  But these are His names which carry meaning that require meditation from us to understand.  What I learned, Jesus is grace and He is love and He is truth and He is faithfulness and He is right.  I "knew" all of these things but it is a totally different thing to hold these true in your mind but not in your heart.  I'm going to be completely honest and say that for many years now I have denied His love and grace and truth and faithfulness and righteousness.  How can you be a believer without accepting these things?  Well perhaps you can't be a true follower of Jesus.  I'm not going to debate that at present but it's food for thought I suppose.
As I talked with friends and fellow missionaries-to-be about my current thoughts and trials of faith, one dear friend said to seek truth in the only place you will actually find truth.  Not in talking to people but in talking to our Lord and reading His Word.  The Bible, that is where you will always find truth so if His will is what you're seeking, doubtless that's where you'll find your answer.  How true and helpful those words were which provided a turning point in my journey of healing, restoration, and finding a true relationship with Christ.  I found myself reading Scripture and praying about every little thing every day.  And she was right, there was no lack of finding truth from Him.  This was also the start of a beautiful friendship for this girl and I; I have been so blessed to have her in my life.  She is the sort who will walk with you no matter where you find yourself!  So wonderful!
Okay, so if I am a follower of Christ and have accepted Him as my Lord then it's time now to give my whole self up to Him and to absorb all that He is into my very being.  Ahhhh!  That means losing myself in Him and accepting gifts that are not able to be returned.  He gives me grace and love freely and expects nothing in return except relationship with Him. It was time for me to accept this incredible grace and love.  Let me tell you, it is a lot easier said than done but this has been one of the most incredible parts of my journey with Jesus.  Just meditating on His love and grace brings tears of joy to my eyes!  If you aren't familiar with the hymn "The Love of God" then you should be that too.  It has the most incredible description of His love ever! 
Where does Jesus work?  In us, through us, around us, in and through others, right here where we are.  A major thing that I really began to grasp was that Jesus really does meet us right where we are no matter where that is.  In our anguish and grief, in our rebelliousness, in our depression, in our joy, in our roles in society, in our sometimes less than reputable actions, even in our complete brokenness.  He understands it all and is walking right next to us if He's not carrying us.  He is inescapable.  But guess what, He loves us too much to let us stay in those dark places.  He wants to draw us into the light of His kingdom, surrounded by His love.  It's there we just have to take the step into it, He will not force on us.  Haha, "just" may not be the right word cause those steps have certainly been the most challenging in my life.

In learning these things, I realized that no matter where I was in life, He would still use me, use my story despite all it holds for His glory to build His kingdom.  No matter how insignificant I felt or how unworthy or unable I was of anything, if I learned to depend on Him to be all of me then nothing I would do would be of me but of Him.  Let Him be my resiliency, my heart and soul, my strength and courage, my love and grace and purpose.  

October 7, 2012

Water & Manna = ?

The more I pray the more I love Jesus, the more I love Jesus the more I learn from Him, and the more I learn from Him the more I trust Him.  For many years God was simply not trustworthy--He had after all allowed many aspects of my life to be ripped to shreds.  But He knew that one day despite everything I experienced, I would fall in love with Him. 
Each time I find myself doubting, He shows me something else that removes all doubt.  Not the kind of doubt that leaves question of His existence or doubt that He has rejected me and taken away His love and gift of grace.  The kind of doubt that leaves plaguing questions of, "Will He really provide for my daily needs?"  "Is this really where He wants me?"  "How in the world is this all going to come together?"  And the answer to all of these questions are always yes it will be because He is here right beside me, guiding my every day, every hour.  
And yes there's a story to accompany of these ramblings.  But first I would like to start with water and manna.  I would like to ask you to reflect for 30 seconds what these two words mean for you.................
Water: the source of all life.  A beverage to quench your thirst.  Beauty and danger.  Cold and refreshing.  
I'd like to highlight some words here: source, quench, beauty, and refreshing.  (the list could go on but for now...)  These words give water a whole new meaning--it is not just water it is hope.  God provided water when there was none to be found for miles in the desert.  And He provides hope in the deserts of our lives everyday.  
Manna: our daily bread (not weekly, not monthly stores, daily--only if/when you need it, not before not after and you don't know for sure until it's there because it's promised).  Food to take away the ache of hunger.  Delicious. Sustenance for life.
Again for the words: daily, food, delicious, sustenance.  Again new meanings to something relatively common in our lives-- bread (unless it's homemade) is not something to get excited about usually.  But it's necessary.  There's hope for the people who were starving in the desert.  Hope.  They had to trust that it would come again and again at the very moment they needed it and only the amount they needed.  But it gave them hope for life and trust in God.

And now for the story... 
There have been so many instances of provision over the last number of months and I still promise to relay those magnificent stories to you but we'll go with a little more recent for now.  Over this last week, the time was drawing for bills to be paid and for me to move into my apartment which goes with so many extra expenses.  Moving sucks by the way!  At the beginning of the week I broke down and asked my mum to send me a check from my dad's trust fund.  Not a lot but enough to help a little.  Then I did some math to figure what I had left and what I needed to pay for right now.   Without the trust fund money (cause I really don't want to have to use it) and after paying bills, I would have $20 in my account.  With the trust fund money and after paying rent this week, I would have -$30 in my account.  

Alright Tuna, you said God will help you if this is where He wants you, trust Him.  You're on an adventure, a grand adventure; you'll have to learn to be creative and it'll be the most awesome years of your life no doubt.   Sound advice from a sound believer of Jesus!  So the creativity starts... I called my loan agencies (one of the most frustrating hours ever) to find out if I could set up a different payment rate for my student loans.  Success! $85.86/month down to $20/month!  Back to positive numbers.  I was also able to make a little yesterday doing my regularish cleaning job.  Getting better but still, moving in requires groceries and various other expenses so not quite there yet.  
Now if any of you know me very well, stress is not my friend.  Really it's no ones friend but seriously, I am not good at just letting things happen and letting God take care of it.  So stress set in hard core this week.  Not a lot of sleep, not a lot of energy, not a lot of appetite, a few tears, lots of frustration, and a mind going 100 miles a minute.    How in the world is this going to work?  God soon it's going to be just you and me in that apartment.  That's what You are asking me to do for the time being.  Learn to trust You will all that I am and all that I have.  Be my source, my life, my joy, my sorrow, and my companion.  But You're the only one who can make this work.  

Moving in is a little bit slower this time because of work and weather and money and timing and an apartment in dire need of cleaning.  But today a spectacular group of friends came to help and we made some headway and even unpacked some.  As I was unpacking pots and wondering to myself, seriously I have $25 after tomorrow, I haven't paid rent yet though I have just enough with no extra and I don't get paid til the end of next week (18th), I picked up a stack of pots, adjusted the stack to put away and there it was sitting on top of an overturned lid, $100!!!  Crazy, just crazy!  God is so good!  Why do I ever doubt Him?  The manna and water are always there at the precise moment I need it!  He knows all and provides all.  Water & Manna = HOPE!