"God's call is often demanding.
It will require sacrifice of some kind,
and possibly some hardship.
But it will result in meaning and purpose.
You can be sure of that."
I received a handwritten letter yesterday from a dear friend back in Joplin. There's something extra special about receiving a surprising letter in the mail, don't you agree?! I cherish her words of encouragement. In it she wrote, "We need to remind ourselves and each other that our family is our primary ministry and not a frustrating obstacle to 'real' ministry" (words from 'A Mother's Heart).
I don't know why the Lord's work always seems to surprise and amaze me. Her letter was written back in October during the beginning of my hard journey, but was just mailed this week. If I may, let me tell you that I have walked down a bumping road these past few months to reclaim my purpose and live out God's call for me. Looking back, I see her gentle prayers for me...they were like shadows behind the bushes jumping out to catch me when I began to stumble.
True friendship. That's what we have.
It's been 8 months since we left our dear family & friends to partner with Reunion Christian Community. In these past few months, I have gone through a tough season of finding my purpose. Church planting is not easy, and when you are a stay-at-home mom, like me, it can often become lonely. At times, I have felt discouraged and have even doubted myself. I have cried tears of loneliness and complained about my imperfections. Rather than being proactive, I've been reactive. I saw hardships as undefeatable mountains and at times, I have chosen to just sit and stare in hopelessness.
However, again to my surprise, it only took one day. One day to look up at the mountain and to be reminded of what's above it. "The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night, they display knowledge." (Psalm 19:19) He has the power & strength to help me conquer each and every mountain. I have been reminded of joy that only comes from our Creator.
Believing the lies and feeling defeated was giving Satan an easy task of robbing me of my joy. It took the pressure's of today and caved in my world. Joy reminds me of salvation and helps me to anticipate eternity. It helps me to look at the mountain and remember God's promise to me. He will not leave me alone; He will not forsake me.
Today, as I re-read her letter, I am comforted by the printed Scripture found on the bottom of the page. It reads:
"The eternal God is your refuge,
and underneath are the everlasting arms."
The God of the universe is my refuge. His invitation to provide shelter is always open and always available. And at times, it seems as though I have fallen, I am hurt, and I can't seem to get there alone. But to my surprise, a dear friend picks me up & carries me to him. He does not leave me alone. Instead, His everlasting arms reach out to me. His loving hands caress my face and wipe my tears. He restores my purpose and I reclaim it graciously.
"God, I know your purposes in my life are most important. And when I see the works of your hands, I know you want my hands to create also. I'm here to use my body-fearfully and wonderfully made-to create life warm and usable. So give me the gift of transforming the cold chains of heartache into the bright, new kingdom of God. I want to touch hate and to rename it love. I want to touch vengeance and rename it mercy. I want to touch resentment and rename it understanding. I want to touch defiance and rename it submission. Create in me a servant who worships you and cherishes the kingdom Jesus died to establish. Amen." -Calvin Miller
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of God of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart." Hebrews 12:1-3
I've learned that it is better to live selflessly than in selfishness. The heavy burden of carrying all the 'woes of me' is tiresome and discouraging. To live selflessly and to consider others better than myself is both freeing and allows me to experience joy. Is it always easy? No, but it is always rewarding.
"Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father."
Today, I rest in the assurance that He is with me and I am encouraged that His refuge will never close up shop.
I am challenged to put on my hiking boots, grab His hand, & conquer the mountains.
And I am filled with joy even considering the hardships because it is the testing of faith that produces perseverance. May I allow perseverance to finish its work (as difficult as it is at times) so that I may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:3-4).