Friday, January 6, 2017

Reflections




Our year 2016 was not the year we planned at all.
We have been...
tired,
tried,
worn,
weary,
broken,
faint.
And yet, God has been with us each day, showing us that this was the way He had for us to walk.



He has
strengthened,
sustained,
guided,
spoken,
loved,
taught,
comforted.




Though I would have never chosen these days for myself, I am thankful He was wise enough to choose them for me.
He knows what is best for my life and the lives of those I love,
and I've seen His hand holding,
His words leading,
His voice comforting and convicting,
and His goodness prevailing.


I have seen again and again that He is not safe, but He is good.






We have seen God work in so many hearts and lives this year, not the least our own.
We are blessed more than I can recount to be allowed to serve the Lord and raise our family here in Ghana.
He is building His church, and He is growing His people.








There have been numerous times this year when I was so bone-tired that I didn't know if I could do the next thing He had for me,
when I was pouring out so much that I felt I would never have enough,
when all I could do was plead with God for mercy.
And every single time I was at that place,
God renewed me,
sustained me,
filled me afresh,
and wrapped His loving arms around me.
He gave me the truths I needed every time I needed to be reminded.









And then, in His kindness, He gave us time to rest.
To quiet our schedule,
our hearts,
our minds,
our home,
our family,
and make a peaceful place of joy,
and hope,
and renewal,
and refilling,
and fun.
Because He knows exactly what I need and when I need it.



Now that we've had our sabbath, we are ready to do what He has called us to next.
We are rested and ready to step into this new year following Him wherever He leads.



The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want, He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul; he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies; thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever. Psalm 23

Sunday, December 11, 2016

And We Wait.....

 










The tree is up.
The ornaments are hung.
Garlands are draped and lights are twinkling.
We count the days.
We read the books.
We watch the movies.
We listen to the music.
And we wait.




We go about our daily duties.
We learn.
We clean.
We cook.
We play.
But this month we add more.
We bake the special treats.
We cook the fancy meals.
We hide away to craft gifts and wrap presents.
And we wait.





This month we've had to wait for the results of our country's elections.
We don't leave the house.
We pray.
We listen to the radio.
We check the news dozens of times a day.
We hold our breath.
And we wait.





Every day we inch a bit closer to the day we celebrate Jesus' birth.
Emmanuel, God with us.
We think of how He came, and why He came, and we try to wrap our finite minds around infinite love.
Jesus, the One who will save His people from their sins.
We tell the beautiful story again.
We sing the carols.
And we wait.



Thursday, November 17, 2016

For the Days When God Asks Us to Do Hard Things......




It's Saturday and time for children's Bible club.
My friend who normally helps me is at a funeral, and I get to go it alone.
I'm telling the story of the Jesse Tree as we prepare for Christmas ~ leading the children from the first, dark fall of man to the bright, hopeful birth of Jesus.
I've told this story so many times, yet again, today, I'm afraid.
I fear that I won't be able to tell it with all the passion it deserves.
Fearful that my language skills will fail me when I need them the most.
Afraid that these dear ones will miss the truths and never truly understand why Jesus came to this earth.


From there we head to a salvation Bible study.
I have a young lady I am discipling helping me with this study.
The young mother we are visiting cannot speak any of the languages I speak, thus my helper.
She is from the same area of a neighboring country as this woman and has agreed to act as my interpreter.
I love hearing the gospel shared in a new-to-me tongue, but my translator is new to this and doesn't trust her abilities.
For myself, I'm unsure if everyone is understanding or not.
It seems to go well, but I leave, wondering how well the gospel has been shared.


It's Sunday, and church is finished for the morning.
My husband is teaching the afternoon Bible classes to those who desire to know more and want to teach God's Word.
While my children and their friends swing from palm branches and chase birds, I sit in a small concrete enclosure and talk with a young lady who has been visiting our church for several weeks.
As we sit at the rickety table with Bibles open, I hear her story.
It is sad, and painful, yet hopeful, too.
I see how God has guided and worked and brought her to this place of hearing the true gospel preached, and I'm afraid that I am going to mess up....
that I won't be able to share God's loving plan for man....
that she will run from the truth and reject Christ.


It's Tuesday night and the electricity has been off from the electric company for several hours.
We sit in a dim front room with a friend and counsel through hard questions, long pauses, painful silences.
I wonder if the questions are right, and will the answers be right, and how will this all come out right in the end?
I see choices being made, and they make me afraid.
We pray for wisdom, but ultimately each man must decide to follow God himself.


It's Wednesday, and my littlest has had an allergic reaction and her foot and toes look like fat, red sausages.
Everything in my mind is telling me to calm down, and all my gut tells me to do is panic.
I'm sore and hurting from a tumble I took after slipping in a puddle of water a little one had forgotten to clean up, and all I want to do is stay in bed until I feel like I haven't been broken into a million pieces, and now I have to play nurse on top of everything else.
What if it's not just a reaction, what if it is something much more dire?


We head to the schoolroom, and we work through our timetable, and we seek to learn together.
I try to split my time between my big girls and my little girls, and I try not to think about my other responsibilities like the mountain of clean laundry that used to be hiding behind the hallway bookshelf, but is now peeking out everywhere...
or the laundry baskets full of dirty clothes that are spilling over onto the floor...
or the tomatoes that are waiting to be roasted in the kitchen....
or the emails and grocery lists that need to be written for Thanksgiving....which I've suddenly realized is just a week away.


It's Thursday, and a new missionary is in the kitchen learning how to cook Ghanaian food, and the phone rings and it's for me, and would it be okay if the caller can come talk to me.....in 15 minutes?
I hustle my people out to the porch table to eat some lunch, and I sit and listen.
I answer some questions and talk about how to read the Bible and be faithful in prayer time.
Then comes the hard moments and the hurting places, and I wonder how to lead a sad soul to see the glimpses of light in the dark times.
Am I sharing the truth clearly enough?
Has anything I said really guided my friend to truth?


I have been walking through some hard valleys for a while now: rocky, steep paths, twisty-turny roads where there isn't much clearance to see far ahead.
As I have walked these tracks, God has continually given me a load to carry.
At times it seems He has even added to my already heavy pack.
I wonder why.


I wonder why he has asked more of me than He has ever asked before.
I ask why he continually brings us those in need of hope, and truth, and the gospel, and Scripture when I feel so inadequate to this task.
And that is the point where He meets me.


He places me in front of a group of children, speaking the greatest story ever told, in probably some of the poorest Twi these children have ever heard so that when they do understand, He gets the glory.
He gives me a brand-new interpreter in a speech I do not know so that when a lesson makes the tiniest bit of headway, He alone can be the reason.
He prompts me to share the gospel with the broken-hearted, the hurt one, so that when that soul does cry out for salvation, He is the answer.


He sits me at the counseling table and reminds me that my reasoning and my thoughts and my answers will never be enough, because then He must be the answer for every needy person who comes.
He sends seeming emergencies, and pain, and overwhelming situations, so that I am reminded again and again that I can do nothing to protect myself or my children from that which will come, but instead must put my faith in His goodness.


Yes, He even sends the long list of daily chores and needy children so that I always have a visible reminder that I cannot be the believer, wife, mother, teacher, or homekeeper that I need to be without His ever present strength.


On our weekly nature walk we pass a mammoth tree that has been cut right down.
It's been chopped and hacked and has splinter-crashed to the ground.
It lays there to slowly dry up and eventually be carted away for somebody's firewood.

As my children clamber around this dead giant, I see the truth of Jesus' words clearly....

John 15:4-5


As we wander away from the now-dead tree I am reminded.
God brings me to these hard places again and again so that I will never forget that my hope, my life is in the vine.