Thursday, February 22, 2018

fear

There is a song on the radio that sings:

            “Fear, he is a liar
            He will take breath
            Stop you in your steps
            Fear, he is a liar
            He will your rest
            Steal your happiness
            Cast your fear in the fire
            Cause fear, he is a liar”

I think about what it is that I fear. I agree that fear is a liar and deep fear likely motivates me more that I realize. So, what is it that I fear? It is not an easy question to ask myself. My first reaction is answer, “nothing”. I am not a fearful person, and I think most would agree that, from the outside, I don’t seem to be. But as I contemplated the idea more deeply and introspectively, it didn’t take long to find the answer.

Uselessness.

This life is fleeting and short—but a vapor. I cannot hold back tears when I consider my arrival at the feet of Jesus and the possibility of being shown how I could’ve been used for the Kingdom but wasn’t; how I could have been daring for the Lord and didn’t; how I could have given more to the mission but wouldn’t.   

Christ poured himself out for us so that fellowship with Him may be possible. The idea of pouring ourselves out as a living sacrifice is a necessary one, and more importantly, a biblical one. Setting aside convenience, comfort, and balance for the sake of sacrifice, service and sharing of God’s word is not a life wasted.

So where does the lie come in?

A drive against uselessness equals a motivation towards usefulness. On the surface, this sounds only good. But as Satan has done from the beginning with Eve, he takes good truth from the Lord and twists it just enough to make it both believable and debilitating.

            “If you want to be useful, do more”

There it is.
DO. MORE.
which means
YOU’RE NOT DOING ENOUGH.

In the movie Inception, people can go into each other’s dreams, even without them being aware. The goal is to plant an idea deep inside their subconscious so they not only believe the idea, but also believe the idea come from within themselves. The idea ‘You’re not doing enough’ continues to takes hold, no matter how much more you do. Eventually, you’re beyond exhausted and spiritual depleted.

When we, as believers, are not constantly checking our thoughts and “taking them captive”, weighing them against what God actually says to us, we accept the twisted version of the truth from The Liar, and simple ideas can drive us—drive us way from Christ’s intentions for our lives, from our relationship with Him, and frankly, drive us mad.

So, what is the truth?

The Lord does not call us to be useless for the Kingdom. But the Lord is not saying, “Do more for me”, He is saying, “Be more with me”.
Doing more for the Lord without regard for instruction and guidance from the Lord becomes a “chasing after the wind”—even when those things are inherently good things. You can become the one wandering sheep finding your own green pastures, but what good is that if the Shepherd isn’t there with you?

In the end, we all have to look at what we are doing for the Kingdom and examine our own hearts of motivation. The Word says that “obedience Is better than sacrifice”.  Are we empowered by He who has already done the work for us? Or are we listening to the Lie that says the good we do will never be enough? And it won’t be.

What we do can never be enough which is why Jesus became the ultimate sacrifice for us. We must lay down the lie that says “Do more” and pick up His yoke, the light yoke, that says “Be more”. For why do long to be and do what we were created to be, and created to do—yet we try and do it without the one who created us, The Creator.

During my furlough season here in the United States, I am learning how to lay down “Do” and pick up “Be”. There are lyrics to another song that have been so great for me lately. It’s called The More I Seek You:

            The more I seek you
the more I find you
            The more I find you,
the more I love you

            I want to sit at your feet
            Drink from the cup in your hand
            Lay back against your and breathe, feel your heart beat
This love is so deep, its more than I can stand
I melt in your peace, it’s overwhelming

I pray that we can all learn how to live in this sweet moments of being with the Lord, laying our head against him, breathing and feeling his heart beat. Only this will allow our hear to beat with His and go forth in His power, with His flock to do His work.
           




Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Facebook Missions

I suppose there has been somewhat of a blog silence in recent months. It’s never intentional when huge gaps of time go missing in writing and updating, and there’s an owed apology to those of you who faithfully read and pray for me and the work in Togo.

The problem is—what do you write when there aren’t “stories” to write about? Don’t get me wrong, the stories themselves are there, they exist of course, but are they “shareable”? Since January we have once again had a Lassa fever outbreak, a dear child that I loved and cared for died the weekend of anniversary of Todd’s death, and I’ve come back to the US to take a 2-month break. The majority of blogs, from medical missionaries especially, can write themselves. Lives saved, lives lost with blood, sweat and tears marking the trail. Who wouldn’t buy that book?

But Some stories can never to be shared because any attempt to write about them immediately cheapens them. All of the details can never be described in a 300-word blog entry and maybe it’s a violation of trust to take the darkest (or brightest) moments of someone else’s life and share it for the world to see for people to click “like”.  


Other stories can’t be shared because no one posts “I had the worst fight ever with my husband last night and my heart is too self-focused to forgive him yet” or “spanked my child harder than I should have today” or “I’m jealous of my friend to the point of coveting her life”. And we would all probably agree that these shouldn’t be posted to the Facebook forums of the world.


More and more I see some Facebook “confession” posts trying to battle the tendency to only post the most perfect parts and pictures of our lives: loads of laundry undone, dirty dishes in the sink, child tantrums—attempts to be transparent that our lives don’t actually have Facebook perfection. I’m not sure that it’s accomplishing its intention, but even so, it’s a start. But is the missions world ready for this? Are churches ready? And Supporters? What about the missionaries themselves?


Some may be thinking, “but Kelly, you write about hard moments and sad stories all of time. Your blog isn’t overflowing with the roses and sunshine of missions life,” and that would be true. But there is a pressure, even with those things, to wrap it all up with a big bow labeled, “it is well with my soul.”


What would happen if missionaries started sharing the things that aren’t “well with our souls”, or should I say “aren’t YET well with our souls”? Maybe we don’t even admit these things to ourselves. Whispering thoughts of, “how can I be a missionary and think that? Would my church, my sending organization pull me off the field? Would my supporters doubt their investment?”

There’s a secret in missions that many won’t tell you—an unwritten truth that you often choose to ignore if your trip is only 1-month long or even 1-year long, but impossible to ignore once you live somewhere: Missions is messy and so are missionaries. 

Each of us comes with preconceived notions and expectations of ourselves, those around us, the culture we are coming into. We also come unsanctified; we are in-process for sure, but far from the finish! We enter the journey with different training, different styles of work, different coping skills and personalities, and most of all different struggles with sin. Missionaries aren’t those that overcame all of the sin in their lives and moved overseas after achieving perfection! And for some strange reason that I have no yet figured out, the Lord decided to put large groups of us together and say “GO! Make disciples...together!”


WHAT?!


What happens when compassion looks different to me than it does to you? What happens when I’m still grieving over the loss of a patient when another one dies? What happens when I’m pushing the plow forward but the mud is up to my neck? What happens if there are people who think your work is not even ministry?  What happens when a short-term helper comes to lend a hand, but then spends time judging you and why you seem so “burned out”? What happens when the culture you came to serve is getting on your very last nerve? What happens when you feel disappointed not only in others, but in God?


I’m as guilty as anyone. I want myself and my co-workers to be super-human. I want us to Jesus Himself: perfectly compassionate, loving, merciful, righteously just and forgiving all at the same time. And when I’m not, or they aren’t, I judge them, and they judge me. We likely, and simultaneously, judge ourselves. Can I risk even to say that we can get stuck judging God Himself. How could HE write the story this way?!


And while we know the end of the story-restoration, joy, and healing--there is an in-between. The moments, the weeks, the years that come between the doubt and the joy. 


Are we ready to meet one-another in the in-between?


There is someone who isnot judging us though—The Judge Himself. “Come to me, all who are weary, and I will give you rest.”  While we are busy trying “fix” everyone around us and people are busy trying to “fix” us, Jesus offers us rest. Rest from the messiness. Rest from the expectations. Rest from bearing the load that was never ours to carry, because He carries us through the in-between.


And From rest comes freedom.

True freedom.
Freedom to post “it is not well with my soul”…..for now.


Friday, January 20, 2017

Snow


I was reading a book my Amy Carmichael this week called “Gold by Moonlight”.  Amy was a missionary to India in the 1800’s and gave her life to rescuing woman from temple slavery. She’s written more books than I could read as well as having penned hundreds of songs. Chapter 4 of the above is titled Snow. I am a Chicago girl first and foremost—December=Christmas=Snow. As you can imagine, there’s no dreaming of a White Christmas when you’re waking up in West Africa. Bing Crosby on the iPod has to suffice for this year. I will admit to looking up at the sky and asking God for one tiny unique snowflake to come down from the sandy sky and land on my tongue. Each time I promise to keep it our little secret, but it hasn’t happened yet.  But in this Chapter, Snow, Amy writes:

And then suddenly—snow. And all our pleasant things are laid waste, or so indeed it seems, for we cannot see them anywhere, and all our newborn hopes are deep under the snow. For hopes had begun to be: a hope of healing, perhaps, if the trial be of the flesh; of a reversal of decision if it be something that lies in the power of another; or some touch on the wheel that turns our earthy affairs, if it concerns circumstances; of some break somewhere, some natural human joy, some relief, some comfort in the aching sense of loss—and now the snow has fallen and covered everything.

I read that excerpt right before New Years day and realized that nothing had more perfectly articulated what the emotional sum of the last twelve months. 

Everything covered in snow.

But time continues and eventually the snow melts and gives rise to spring.  Somehow we are given permission, either from ourselves, or others, to once again remember that which was sewn many months ago.  There is nothing about 2016 that we need to forget, of course. There is merely a time to move forward in a healthy way, looking towards the joy of a new morning.

As I think ahead, I can only look back to the ways the Lord was already so faithful to me and to this community during the past year. Despite our great loss, the surgical service here never went without a surgeon. We took care of 46 new premature infants, all with Birth Weights less than 2 kg, with a survival rate of 89%! Our two boys, Martin and Jonathan, who are undergoing treatment for leukemia have successfully reached the 1-year mark—half way done! Our first ever HOH nursing class which began in May has retrained all of its students up to this point—a huge testament to our nursing school staff and their hours of work and dedication.  The list could always go on.

One of our sweet premies all grown up!
I have learned over the last year that our “successes” and “losses” cannot be numbered on a tally board. Deaths vs Survival, Volunteers vs. None, Joy vs Fatigue—they are all an intricate plan that the Lord uses to refine us, grow us, and to show us and others who He is. There is no battle going forward where Satan is winning and the Lord is losing. Jesus has already vanquished sin and is the victor. Pray that we can begin to live and work in light of this beautiful picture of victory that is ever before us, the strokes of paint already laid on canvas. It is only with the choosing of the light colors alongside the dark, that makes all things visible.

As always, thank you for journeying with me. Thank you for your patience and your prayers. Please lift us up and we go into a season of both joyful and difficult anniversaries. You’re partnership in ministry here is never forgotten.