Where We've Been

I should be ironing. Naptime will be cut short today, because it's early pick-up day at school. Oh, how this day plagues me. Don't the people at the school know how this messes with my schedule? I mean, what mom doesn't have bookoodles of laundry and houswork to do on Mondays?

Then again, I suppose that they shouldn't be blamed for the fact that I'm sitting here at the computer instead of standing at the ironing board.

I haven't seen many cute life stories to share here lately. I suppose I'm having writer's block. Yet the Lord is doing so much in and around me. There is no greater feeling than hearing Him speak or seeing Him work. As I've reveled in so much fruitfulness in my life and my friends' lives lately, it's caused me and Chris to look back over the years with such thankfulness for how far He's brought us.

In Psalm 51, David says: "Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you. Then I will teach your ways to rebels, and they will return to you. Forgive me for shedding blood, O God who saves; then I will joyfully sing of your forgiveness. Unseal my lips, O Lord, that my mouth may praise you."

When the Lord restores and works in our lives, our lips should be eager to praise him. As I look back over what he's done in us, I want to give him glory! What is excitement unless it's shared?

Eightish years ago, my husband came to his pregnant wife and said he thought God was calling him to something different. Something more. His wife said, "No, thanks," and he agreed. Kinda reminds me of a cute little couple who used to live in a garden until they encountered a sly serpent.

What ensued was the pursuit of two stubborn, worldly people by a jealous, loving God.

"Move to Texas. Give up everybody you have in your life (except your immediate family) and everything you've chased after thus far. Give up your income, your home, your comforts, your relationships, your church, your stuff that won't fit into a tiny apartment."

The Lord began to refine and whittle and tear and pry and purify and remove. It felt so painful, so hard, so hateful. I remember riding the exercise bike in the basement one day and crying out to God, "Who are you? Why are you doing this to me? Why are you putting me through this tearing away and giving up when everybody around me seems completely untouched by your refining fire? Do you love me?"

In essence, I was asking, "Can't I have you and the world?" And, clearly, He was saying "NO." He will not share his glory with anyone or anything, because there is nothing or no one worthy of it. In the midst of the struggle, he redefined who he is to me. He showed me his true character, the extent of his love, and the freedom that letting go brings.

"Just kidding. Stay put."

"I have a different plan. Go to seminary here and get a new, lower-paying job that you have no experience in to make it happen. Give up your time and your status. Go backwards in the world's eyes."

And so we did. And he proved faithful. We knew it was from him (because random jobs usually don't fall from the sky) and knew what it was to run from him, so we chose to stick with him this time. We thought we knew the purpose of it, but oh how little we could see.

We endured the questions, asked by others and ourselves. "When will Chris finish seminary? What will he do after that?" Who in the world knows. Only God. He redefined our view of earthly education, which can be valuable, and put our priority on the training straight from the hand of God, which is priceless. He taught us to obey in the little things and to trust him a little more.

But still Chris wrestled with not being fulfilled and I wrestled with giving it all up.

So he laid another opportunity in front of us. "Maybe I want you to move to a little island far away from home where you know no one and cannot leave. It will be uncomfortable and different and lonely and hard."

And so we began again. To wrestle, to question, to agonize, to wonder, to dream, to let go of dreams, to submit, to cry, to be scared out of our (my) minds. And so I began a blog, thinking I would document my life as the worst, most begrudging missionary to ever live.

Until we visited that little island and heard nothing.

No calling. No pulling. No direction, except:

"Just kidding. Stay put."

What?? What will people think? Am I not good enough? Do I not love you enough? I thought you had a plan, a calling.

And even in all that, he was teaching, refining, preparing, loving.

We learned that his plans are unfathomable, but that they will match our passions and giftedness. We learned to let go a little more. We learned some hard truths about ourselves, our pride, and our faith. We learned to quit living five years down the road and to live in the today he's given us. He has a job, a mission, a ministry in the little and big things as we follow him everyday.

"Obey in little, and one day I just might give you much. Take joy in where I have you, and maybe someday I'll take you somewhere new."

So we stayed put and waited. It seemed we'd been waiting for years. Oh, yeah. We had. Searching, being pulled and stretched, only to end up right back where we'd started. Truthfully, though, we were only physically where we'd started. Spiritually, he'd taken us to many new places.

And then one day, Chris set off for what seemed like it would be another routine annual trip for job training in another city. He came back with a vision and direction that God had brought about through that everday obedience. In true God-fashion, he had spoken when and where we least expected it. That still, small voice. When we finally surrendered and embraced the living out of our every day for him, he showed us something bigger.

This long road of twists and turns, wondering and waiting, letting go and grabbing hold, fearing and hoping, hating and loving has brought us to today. Chris is serving in a way that so perfectly fits his desires, passions, and giftedness that it's crazy. He leads more effectively and cares more deeply than ever. I am holding onto this world less than I did eight years ago. I am trusting more and fearing less. We both know him and love him more now than we ever have.

His goodness and faithfulness are real to us now. His love and plans amaze us. It all came welling up inside of me when I read this email, sent from the other side of the world, to little old us. A kit that began in our dining room has ended up in a country I've never even seen in real life.

The Bicycle generator units are very very useful and the Pastors are using them very much. Now They could be able to use them in the night prayers in the remote villages. Even at the house, as you are aware we have a 12 hour power cut in the villages of Andhra Pradesh. These Pastors are using them at their houses for the study of their children etc., They are expressing their heartful gratitude to The Designs for Hope. Even the congregations of Anandapuram Village ( Deacon K.Satyam ) and Seri narsannapalem Village ( Pastor Yesupadam ) are also thanking The Designs for Hope.

Kindly inform the concerned Officers of The Designs for Hope for their generous gift of the generator units. We may request more now. What are the other ministries of The Designs for Hope ?

In Christ,

I can't explain to you all this represents. All the uncertainty and struggle and refining that he's taken us through culminated for me in this truth: God works in us so that he can be glorified through us in ways we could never imagine or make happen on our own. His ways...higher. His thoughts...better. His love...greater.

I still have doubts and struggles, but hopefully, he has many more amazing things in store for us as we seek him and grow to know him more. The thought of it makes me scared and excited all at the same time, but today I can be a little less scared and a little more excited as I reflect on the journey thus far. I know it's not so much about how successful our service is in our eyes as it is how well we know the one whom it's done for. To God be the glory. Great things he has done is doing.


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