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Trust: How I Go, How I Come

March 26, 2015 Leave a comment

Without exception, every time I’ve spent extended time with a long-term missionary I’ve left saying, “I want to be like them.” I see their courage, their realness, their heart, their faith…and I want it for myself. The tough part of admitting that however, is that I don’t want their life. Their life is hard. They operate at an entirely different level of stress, they face so many losses and goodbyes, they suffer physically, their children face unique challenges – the list goes on and on. I’ve only had a taste of it from my time in Singapore. Yet, multiple times I’ve wondered how I’d be able to operate under even more traumatic conditions. I don’t have a comprehensive checklist. But, I have learned that there are two essential truths about God that must be held hand-in-hand if the going is to ever be worth it. God’s worthiness, which ensures my allegiance. And His love, which compels me to trust Him.

Both truths are so essential for this kind of life. When I left for Singapore, I was very one-sided with my way of thinking: “God is God, I am man – obviously God deserves my obedience. So go!”  I’m so glad that I revere Christ like this, but it can be problematic. Jesus isn’t only my King…He is also my Brother, Friend, & Savior. You see, viewing God in this one dimension put a lot of pressure on me. It made me think that I can’t fail or disappoint God. It made me question His goodness when life in Singapore was truly miserable. Yes, it made me serve, surrender, and go – but it also brought a lopsided approach to my Christian walk. I didn’t realize this issue until April 2014 (Yes, over a year into life in Singapore).

Retreat GroundsI was at my first Silent Retreat. The theme was Romans 12:1-2 which says, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Immediately, I felt bothered by our theme. I wasn’t sure why, but at least I noticed how ugly of a reaction I had to the passage. That night, I discovered the reason for my angst. I didn’t like someone telling me to be a sacrifice again. I didn’t like the idea of doing God’s “perfect will”. I’ve obeyed this passage already – many times in fact – and I couldn’t see much good come from it. That night, I sorrowfully wrote in my journal, “I don’t trust God.

The next day I was reading Psalm 84. The final verse says…

O Lord of hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in you.

I was really confused as to why the Psalmist would conclude with that statement. It didn’t seem necessary. The whole Psalm is rather happily written. It about enjoying the presence of God; about loving the place that God is at. Nothing bad seems to be happening…so why is trust so important here? Wisdom came after some meditation. You see, my walk with God had changed a lot since college days. I went from having a daily time of studying God’s word to studying it once a month. I went from praying daily to crying because I simply had no words to say to God. I went from experiencing authentic, regular fellowship to being alone (even when I was around people). It didn’t happen over night, but it all snowballed after only a couple of months into life in Singapore. I had been telling myself that I just needed a routine – that I just needed discipline and then I’d be back to normal. But, what I really needed was to believe that God was good and that God loved me.

(v2) My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the Lord

(v4) Blessed are those who dwell in your house, ever singing your praise

(v10) For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere

These are just a few of the verses in Psalm 84. What a contrast to my current life. If I trusted God, then I would come to Him. Nobody longs to take refuge in a place that isn’t safe. The same is true for us and God. For the first time I saw that trust is not only required for taking steps of faith. It’s required for the simple, daily, secret times too. 

God is worthy of my life, of my sacrifices. He is especially worthy, however, of those tender moments when there is nothing to offer except my trust. One thing I am sure of is that those vulnerable, at times awkward minutes and hours of just coming before God are a powerful statement of faith.

With trust I go out for Him; with trust I come before Him til’ the end of my days. 

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Why Did I Move to Singapore?

January 18, 2014 Leave a comment

Why did I move to Singapore? What a loaded question! “Why” questions usually are.

Opportunity. Commandment. Calling. Passion. World Needs. Adventure. Vision.

I suppose all of these words could be used to describe the reasons behind my leaving the USA…but all of these words are so vague or broad, that really anyone could say them about nearly any mission they go on. But, why did I move to Singapore? Why specifically did God want me there? I must say, I didn’t know that answer until December 2012 (I flew off January 2013!) and I’m still unpacking it more and more each day.

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Some Background:

When Danny and I got engaged and discussed this opportunity to minister to college students in Singapore (SG), I was on board. Why not, right? Single or married, I’d be on the mission field, somewhere, doing something…that’s about all I knew. Now, we had already gone on a short-term mission trip (STM) to SG a year earlier. And I didn’t leave ever expecting (or hoping) to return. I was glad to have the experience, but didn’t have any emotional high or burdened heart for the country after leaving. So, my willingness to return and live there wasn’t based on emotions so much as it was on purpose.

When you are planning to move overseas to do “good work” a common objection from family and even random strangers is “Don’t we need help here, too?!” Honestly, during our journey to leave we talked with people who were either excited or confused. I didn’t understand what was confusing until our wedding rehearsal dinner. During that dinner, many friends shared rather touching appreciations and thanksgivings about us and our life with them. That was the first time that I saw how much I had in America. I had multiple amazing friends, job opportunities, a supportive family, potential homes & land, education opportunities, & a loving husband to build a life with… honestly, my life couldn’t have gotten much better or more fulfilling. That was when I first realized that my commitment to leave all of that for a place that I knew very little about is kind of crazy.

Commitment & Surrender

So, I began to wonder…why shouldn’t we just do the same thing here…there are students who need Christ here, too…and then a deeper issue surfaced. I asked, “Is the Christian life meant to be more about our commitment to Jesus or our surrender to Him?” I really believe that our most genuine commitments to Christ are in context of our surrendering to Him. True, I can do very similar work in America, but what does it cost me to do that? There is little room to surrender anything if I had stayed.

“…count the cost…any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14)

“But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—” (Phil. 6)

“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it” (Luke 16)

What is a common theme in the verses? The giving up of our life for Jesus! So, aside from having an opportunity, a biblical commandment, a calling, passion, etc… I was going to Singapore, because God was going to lay in me a foundation of surrender. My oh-so-mighty comfort idol was to be ripped up and thrown out! That’s a pretty intimidating thought to have as you board an airplane heading to Asia…“Me leaving, will be the start of releasing all that is too dear to me, in order that I may be a willing, surrendered, servant for my Lord Jesus.”

I hope to share more about this journey of becoming surrendered in future posts. All questions and comments are appreciated.

I am Guilty: No More Finger Pointing

March 26, 2013 3 comments

Until recently, I have never realized how rare it is that I say, “I messed up.”, “I am to blame.”, “I choose to do it.”, “I am guilty.”

Just like Adam and Eve in Genesis 3:11-13, I play the “Blame Game”. When Adam and Eve sinned against God, He approached each of them as individuals. He questioned Adam, “Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?”, then Eve, “What is this that you have done?” And their response “The woman you gave me ate it!”, “The serpent deceived me! (paraphrased)” Finger Pointers.

By approaching them individually, God demonstrated that He holds one accountable for one’s own decisions (not for the circumstances or decisions of others)!

I’m sure I’ve been this prideful my whole life, but through marriage both God and Danny are exposing my eagerness to spread the blame & not take full responsibility. This shocked me at first, for I’ve always been “mature for my age” and “responsible”, etc. But, just because I try to do right in life, doesn’t mean I’m exempt from the responsibility when I do harm others or myself.

Lies I tell myself to cover-up my actions (such as fits of anger, overspending, a sharp tongue, etc):

  • You messed up first!
  • You made me do it!
  • I’m stressed – don’t expect me to act as if I’m not!
  • I have a right to be comfortable  & its not happening!
  • I tried to prevent this from happening!
  • What I did isn’t that bad!

The twisted part of in all of this, is many times my shift of blame may be true & accurate. Go back to Adam and Eve: God did give Adam the woman, she did eat the fruit, & the serpent did deceive her. They didn’t lie…per se, The fact that we can redirect attention to someone else and it be valid makes it so much easier to do so. Besides, who wouldn’t want to be the victim? The victim doesn’t have to fix something. The victim doesn’t have to repent. The victim is, well, innocent – right?

Today, I decide that it is better NOT to be the victim. It is better for me to be a guilty sinner. For, if I am at fault, forgiveness is near! Redemption is near! Glory is coming for me! The Scripture promises us in 1 John 1:9 that,

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

If I perceive that I’m not guilty, then I will not confess my sin. If I believe that I don’t need to confess anything, I suppose I also believe that I don’t need forgiveness from a righteous Judge…

But how foolish it would be of me to stand before the holy & just God who even clarifies in James 2:10 that,

…whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it.

How foolish it would be to stand before Him and say, “But, I am innocent… Oh, those times I messed up were because they were sinners, not me.”

I want to be humble. I want to be wrong when I’m wrong. I want to experience Christ’s abundant grace. I want to be the first to confess. I want to fess up even if no one else does. I want to be blamed, so that I can become blameless.