It’s 6:20 am. Some of you may already be awake. Yet, for some like me this early of a morning finds you groggy and drowsy. It’s not that I am NOT a morning person, more that I need a full 9 hours of sleep to function and usually that doesn’t happen. Mosquito’s have infiltrated our home again, and Hosanna and I have each received numerous bites while we sleep. We hoped the cooler weather had helped, but the combination of excitement and nervousness from Bart and I’s upcoming get away and the itchiness kept me awake, as well as a little girl with a cough. Whenever a child is sick, even with the slightest illness, a parent feels it in the depths of their being.
Yet it isn’t the sickness, or itchiness that awoke me. The Lord has woken me early this morning. I wonder why. Last night I was reading through Romans 4:20 through all of chapter 5. I actually had been reading through Job, which at one point in my life was my favorite book of the Bible. In no exaggeration, I have probably read it 5 or 6 times. I have seen a lot of trial in my short life. I have seen brokenness far beyond 27. I have seen the death of the young, I have felt the deep pangs of chemical depression, I have watched mighty people crumble into sin, and the meager rise up in faith. I have spent countless hours in tears before the throne of our mighty God in heaven, and felt his sweet and tender love as He heard my cries and freed me from fear, doubt, bitterness and the many other chains that the devil used to hold me back from God’s great love. It’s about love my friends. A radical love that has gotten under my skin, consumed me like a burning fire, and entirely filled me with hope. I began reading in Romans 5, but the chapter starts with a Therefore. Whenever you are reading the Bible and see a Therefore, you need to back track and see what it is there for.
20 Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. 21 He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises. 22 And because of Abraham’s faith, God counted him as righteous.23 And when God counted him as righteous, it wasn’t just for Abraham’s benefit. It was recorded 24 for our benefit, too, assuring us that God will also count us as righteous if we believe in him, the one who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. 25 He was handed over to die because of our sins, and he was raised to life to make us right with God.
Pause. This verse says that Abraham, whom was challenged to sacrifice his son Isaac, never wavered in his faith. Abraham, who was told to get up and go, with his family, but wasn’t told where, never wavered in his faith. I did some research in the Greek, and righteousness in our perception isn’t too farfetched. It really does mean to be just, or right, lacking fault. Yet, it doesn’t give us a measuring rod of tasks to complete in order to be righteous. It even says that Because of Abraham’s faith God counted him as righteous.
Seriously. Read that again.
Faith. I just finished reading a book called “In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day”. It echoes a theme that one of our biggest problems to overcome as lovers of Jesus is our lack of faith. It isn’t works. It isn’t applying some new “Live life better” strategy to our lives. It is faith. Faith doesn’t come without a challenge friend. We have been told over and over and over in the scriptures that our faith becomes refined much the same way that gold does. The impurities are BURNED out. Some of you might be thinking….why. Why would a God who loves us, a God who is called Abba, father, BURN something out of His Children?!? WHY?! Because He aches for us, He longs for us. We see it in the death of His son Jesus who was tortured on the cross so that we could have hope! He didn’t do this as a last chance shot at dragging His wayward kids back into His life. He did this because He knows that we are broken, and that we will never be able to earn or deserve it. So let’s redefine righteousness. Let me go out on a limb here. Let me say that maybe righteousness is less about living in fear of doing the wrong thing, and more about taking risks with Jesus leading the way.
You might think this is easy for me to say. I’m a missionary, who has already achieved that “superior level of crazy”. I am fearless right? Completely incapable of not obeying God’s call.
Let me assure you, last week I watched as French speaking doctors vaccinated my kids and my kids screamed and begged for me to not let this happen to them. Yet I knew that we were moving to a country where vaccinations literally will save my children’s lives and I don’t have the option. I have seen my son and daughter break down and cry because of the confusion of another language, and then heard the voices of so many people stateside saying “Oh! They’ll learn the language! They are kids! They are resilient! This will make them better people!” I myself have been on the floor of my bedroom before, crying and asking God if He understood the ache in my heart as I prepare to take my kids back to the states for 8 weeks only to then take them away from the people who would give anything to hold them closest. I have seen my husband and teammates endure complete exhaustion going from one government office to the next to try and complete all kinds of necessary paperwork in the French Bureaucratic System.
Yes friends. I have fears. These experiences don’t mean my faith is somehow superior to yours. These experiences are just a different type of faith fire than your own. We each have it. We each have moments of complete and total breakdown before God. For you, your faith fire might be your job; a place in which you love the people and the specific tasks so much that you know that the persecution and resentment you face are nowhere near the value of your staying put. Some of you might have a faith fire in your marriage. You may have come to know the love of Jesus while your spouse is still searching. Family may be critical of your “unequally yoked” marriage, or in other ways, but you know that you have joined a covenant and are faithfully a part of that.
I have simply learned that God’s word is complete truth. When I read “God has not given me a spirit of fear, but of power, and love, and sound mind” I trust him entirely. I recognize fear of anything but God as exactly that, as spirit. Then, I cast it out as such, just as the first disciples cast out spirits that hindered. I surrender my perspective, I surrender the doubts, and I trust that God, who is already at the end of my life, as He was at the beginning, knows what He is doing. I have my moments of complete breakdown. Yet, when you have felt God’s call in your life, when you have seen Him pave the way because you have eyes of faith, there is no fear big enough. When I feel fire in my life, I know that it is either from God, for the purpose of making me stronger, or that in some way I have allowed sin in my life. I seek His word, and trust Him to lead me on.
This was a long blog my friend. Thank you for taking the time to read how God is challenging me this morning. Thank you also for your prayers as we are transitioning through many changes in the upcoming months, including:
- Finding new and creative ways to learn French as Bart and I have both quit regular French school and have been practicing one on one in different settings with French friends.
- Bart’s trip to Tanzania, Africa in November.
- Having a baby in December, while packing!
- Our move stateside for 8 weeks in January!
A reminder, as some have been a little confused. We are learning French in order to effectively communicate with the government, and military in West Africa. There are road blocks along African dirt roads, much like the western world’s have stop lights, and there are military stationed at these blocks that speak French (though slightly different than some of the French we are learning now). We will have to interact in French every time we travel to and from the capital city (6+ times annually), and any time we need to sign papers, arrange visas or passports etc. We cannot just learn basic phrases, but have to hold our own in French. The people group we will be working with does not speak French. We were told there is one lady in the village who knows some French. They speak an entirely different language. No…it’s not a French dialect. So, yes, we will need to learn an entirely NEW language upon arrival to our home in West Africa. We are preceded by many missionaries who have done this before us, and we would not be doing French language learning if it weren’t entirely necessary. I hope this clarifies any misunderstandings about the language learning process ahead of us.
With His hope,