Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The One Whose in Control....

  I have this quote on my wall that goes like this, "If God wants a thing to succeed, you can't mess it up.  If He wants a thing to fail, you can't save it".  I put it up there on the wall as a reminder to myself of the one who is in control. Because truth be told, often times I act like I think I am God and that I can/have to hold everything in place and make everything work out as I see fit.  And the reality is, not only is that not true, but it's not how life works.
  When I came back to Ecuador in January to begin my second year serving with my missions organization, part of what really drew me back in was the belief that God has some BIG THINGS he wants to do in my heart this year.  I know that sounds so self-centered, especially coming from a missionary whose suppose to be all about the community, and people, and God moving in others, but one thing I've discovered over the years is unless God is working in me, I'll never allow Him to work out of me.  Yes, I believe God is God and thus He can use anyone or anything (heck, He used a donkey...an ass...in the Bible......a comforting thought for me sometimes!), but when I'm not connecting with God and allowing our relationship to be first priority, I start thinking and acting like I'm the one who touches people, who heals them, who gives them ultimate comfort, who can save them.  I don't know what you're thinking reading this, but when I read that last sentences over it's obvious to me that in those moments without God, I start thinking I AM God (notice the trend)!
  The really ridiculous thing about all of this is that I am actually really bad at this whole people interaction thing!  I would make a horrible God!  Now I know there are some of you out there reading this thinking I know Jess and she's not that bad of a person at all, but that's actually where you would be wrong.  The truth is, while I can act sweet and intentionally try to put others before myself, and really work to make the world a better place, the attitude of my heart and the thoughts in my mind are often so far from that sweet, caring, others oriented act I try to carry out.  I want to be the kind of person who loves unconditionally, who showers grace and mercy on people, who forgives quickly and who points people to Jesus in everything I do.  However, usually I'm operating out of a place where I am judging people, assuming I know best, proclaiming guilt on others, and working to make myself look best.  If God looks only at the heart, I daily prove to Him how much of a sinner I am and how desperately... DESPERATELY.... I need his grace and forgiveness and love and mercy.
  Which brings me back to the beginning, or at least back to the main point of this whole blog, thank God that He is God and that He is in control!  While I may "get it wrong" all the time and kick myself and others because of my bad attitudes, God still loves me, He still sees me as His Child, I am His!  And there is such freedom in that!  When I am resting in that truth, all of a sudden I don't need to work hard to carry out my plans and make myself look good.  Instead I can let all that go, press into Him and allow Him to carry out His plans and purposes in and thru me!  And that's what life really is all about, isn't it?  Knowing God and making Him known!  I may not be perfect, but clearly God is still doing a major work in me!  And for that I give Him all the glory!  Amen.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Growing pains...

  Over the weekend I was kind of a Jerk to one of my friends.  I was annoyed and frustrated with a few things and instead of just talking to her about it, I sort of just gave her the cold shoulder.  Then, because I am so "holy and righteous", I spent all weekend trying to justify my behavior even though I felt the conviction of God telling me that no matter how I am feeling, that's no way to treat a friend, teammate or sister-in-Christ.
  So I made plans in my heart that today I would apologize to her, which I did...even though I don't think I was all that clear and seemed to point to my frustration instead of just focusing on why I was wrong. Anyway, before I apologized though, I spent most of the morning trying to get out of it some how.  I was truly just considering not saying anything and hoping that by pushing it under the rug, it would be done and over with.  However, we serve a God who wants better for me and for His children.  So as I sat there washing dishes, trying to justify not doing the right thing a second time, I felt like God said to me, "You can choose to BE a person of integrity or just someone who talks about it, the choice is yours"...and I knew right then and there what I had to do.
  Like I said my apology didn't go as smoothly as I hoped.  I'm more of an avoider than I am someone who takes initiative to ask for forgiveness, and thus it's something I obviously still need to work on.  But the truth is, this is exactly how the body of Christ should work.  We work together and when we hurt one another, which we will cause we're human, we need to own up to it, ask for forgiveness and talk it out.  I think it's one of the biggest schemes of the Devil to get Christians to stop talking to one another, once we've been hurt or hurt...or we start becoming less real.  I don't want that in my relationships, so...even though it's hard and I completely suck at it....I'm learning to BE that person of integrity I want to be...to own up to my mistakes...to apologize...and to grow from it.  Now if I could only learn not to beat myself up so much over it!  But that's for a different post!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Lessons Learned from Cultural Differences....

  This past weekend was Easter, but for me it was certainly an Easter unlike any I've had before.  I come from a culture that celebrates mostly Resurrection Sunday.  While my home church reserves a retreat center for people who want to get away with God on Good Friday, it's Sunday that we have our service and community breakfast to celebrate. Also, In my family, while my father's side of the family use to go Saturday night to have there Easter baskets blessed, it's Sunday that we have a family dinner and time of celebration.  However, in the community where I am currently living, Good Friday is what's really celebrated.
  This past Friday the catholic church set up stations of the cross around the community and a crowd of people walked from station to station where they prayed in front of re-enacted scenes from the Bible. Then both Christian churches in our village had Good Friday services.  My church here even had a community meal to celebrate.  On Sunday however, it was just like any other normal day.  No big celebration, not fancy outfits, and definitely not baskets!
  I shared on my missions Facebook book page yesterday, that this difference in cultures has really helped me to see the importance of both sides of the holiday.  The reality is, we really can't have one without the other.  For if Jesus hadn't gone to the cross for our sins, then we would still be lost in our sins.  But if He never resurrected than all hope would be lost.  Both parts of the story matter... both sides need to be remembered.
  I guess that's one of the good things about living in such a different culture.  I'm learning to see things from a different perspective and, in a way, more deeply.  It's not always easy to understand the differences I am experiencing, but when I opening myself up to them, there is always something new I learn.  So here's to learning, to growing and to new experiences!