Wednesday, June 22, 2016
People keep asking me if I've recuperated from our mission trip yet. I know they have good intentions, but I don't know what to say when they ask me that.
Do I really want to get over that trip?
No. I think that's the answer I've come up with. I was exhausted when we returned home and for two days, I've not done much of anything. That part I will be glad to be over, and it'll be nice to gain some energy back. But the rest of it? I don't want to be done with that part.
We already are thinking about returning next year, and we keep saying, "When we go next year, we will __________."
I have to confess something, though. I wanted to go on this trip, but the closer it came time for us to leave, the more nervous I became. I had some responsibilities on this trip that I wasn't excited about, mainly the assignment of being the assembly leader. I trusted God, and I trusted Keith and Kim, but I was really wondering how in the world I would pull off being front and center the way I needed to be for the assemblies each day.
And when it came time for us to leave, and then when we got there, I have to tell you that I was thinking to myself how in the world I was going to get through the next seven nights. I wasn't sure I would be able to pull off this whole camping in the desert thing, and our conditions were less than ideal. I would fall asleep one night and wake up the next morning thinking, one night down, six to go. I even told Todd that first full day, that this would be my first and last trip to the Navajo reservation.
I'm not sure when my attitude and perspective started changing, but one day as we had our morning worship time, Mark (the missionary who lives there full time) said something about those of us who may be thinking we would never come back to this place. I can't even remember exactly what he said, but I remember him saying those words and I remember feeling such conviction that it brought tears to my eyes. Even though outwardly my attitude was fine, inside where it matters most, it sucked.
And that's when I started praying differently. I started asking God to give me a supernatural love for those beautiful people, and I asked for Him to help me love them like He did. (I didn't NOT love them, I think I was just too busy counting down the days until we could leave.) And without me even realizing what was happening, He did exactly what I asked of Him.
I think it may have been Tuesday when Mark said those words, but all I know is that I was no longer counting down the days to leave. God allowed me to love those people. He allowed me to be able to fellowship with them. He allowed me to be humbled by a missionary's words and He allowed me the conviction in my heart to set my attitude right again. Even though I am not natural at standing in front of a group and leading something like an assembly each day, He allowed my strength to display His power. And though teaching was really low on my spiritual gift test, He allowed me His wisdom and knowledge to be able to teach the little kids, and He allowed them to sit there and soak it all up.
I think the main idea of this post is this: I thought I was relying on God for this trip. But then I got there and saw the conditions around us, and I realized that I was relying on my SELF for things I thought I'd given to Him. I thought that if I could just do something a certain way, or if I could just make it through this day, that it would be enough and that I would survive. But as the week went on, we were finding out that God was moving among us and that the enemy was not happy with what we were doing. The things that happened on this trip are things that have never happened on this trip before.
There were so many incidents involving the team that was there with us: the first night of bible school, some of our team interacted with a combative drunk woman. Another night, there was a man outside a grocery store that threatened some of our team, referring to them as "angels of light". There was a group of Navajo men in a truck that came and hit drums and chanted outside of our gate for five minutes while everyone in the campground slept. One lady fell and thought she had broken her arm. Our team was dropping like flies and kept getting sick, almost one right after another.
But God gave us the strength to continue on and to pursue.
Was it always pleasant? Absolutely not, but look at what our Lord Jesus had to endure for us on the cross. I think if He could do that for us, surely He would give us strength to endure a few nights in tents in crazy winds. I learned some things about myself and about God and prayer while I was there.
I learned that when I pray according to God's will, He will answer. (I did know this before, but I need to be reminded of it often, apparently.) My most repeated prayer the entire trip was this: "Lord, please help me to love You with all of my heart, soul, mind and strength, and help me to love my neighbor as I love myself." How do I know if what I'm praying is God's will? Well, if it's in the Bible, it is His will. John 1:1 tells us that in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The greatest commandment in the Bible is to love the Lord with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength and to love our neighbor as our self.
I knew that my repeated prayer was His will. Because it was His will, He answered it.
Another thing I learned is something that I read in the Bible before we left home for this trip. In Acts chapter two, the Bible refers to the Holy Spirit as a mighty, rushing wind. Well, we had some mighty, rushing wind on this trip. I'm not trying to be all weird, but as I would sit and have my quiet time each morning and the wind would whip my Bible pages back and forth, I couldn't help but think of that wind as the Holy Spirit. I know that God gave me that mental picture, because how strange and like Him, that I would remember what I had read in Acts right before our trip? So I began to pray that like that wind was blowing all around me, that I would be filled with His Spirit continually, and that I would live and move and operate within that power of His Spirit.
And lastly, speaking of His power, I remembered the verses that talk about His power within us. Acts 1:8 says this about power: "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."
2 Timothy 1:7~"For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love and sound judgment."
Ephesians 6:10~"Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and by His vast strength." (Some translations refer to His strength as might.)
Ephesians 1:18-19~"I pray that the perception of your mind may be enlightened so you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the glorious riches of His inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of His power to us who believe, according to the working of His vast strength."
For those of us who are believers in the glorious Lord Jesus Christ, His power is within us. But we forget about that. This is what I refer to as putting God in a box. I often forget to pray with that power of the Holy Spirit within me, but on this trip, He reminded me of that power again. So I began to use that power. I was asking some pretty difficult things of God while on this trip, but I knew that in one way or another, if what I was asking was in His will for us, that He would answer. I prayed and asked things that I knew only He could do, and He reminded me yet again, that His hand had been upon us since the very beginning of the planning stages for this trip. I prayed and asked the Lord to help me to give Him all the glory and honor for the things that were happening.
I don't write this to tell you of my great and spectacular prayers. I write these things to tell you to NOT be like me. Don't forget that the power of the Holy Spirit is within you. Don't forget to pray with that power. Don't forget that God is bigger than the box you sometimes put Him in. And don't be a chicken and not offer to step out of your comfort zone occasionally. (I was ALL THE WAY OUT of my comfort zone from June tenth through the nineteenth.)
I am guilty of all those things, but one last thing that He taught me this week is from 2 Corinthians 12:9 and 10.
But He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, insults, catastrophes, persecutions, and in pressures, because of Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Love to all.