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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. 

Personal Symbolic Rituals: A Way to Inspire Stewardship & Surrender

February 5, 2013 3 comments

I have been reading a book by Pastor Edmund Chan, titled Cultivating Your Inner Life: Reflections on Spiritual Formation in Discipleship Today. The most recent chapter described features of “toxic spirituality” and one example was Rituals without Reality. In it, he discussed the value of rituals such as Communion & Baptism, but also some of his personal rituals. An example of a personal ritual is when he offers up his watch to God as he prays to represent his desire to steward his time to God’s glory. timex watch

I began reflecting on ways to enjoy prayer through symbolism, too. I thought about  items I own or see on a regular basis that represent something that is of great value to me. So far, I have thought of seven items and I hope that when I see them, I’ll be reminded to keep this value surrendered to Christ’s lordship.

  1. My wrist watch: This represents my time & schedule. I hope that seeing this during the day reminds me to steward my time in a godly way (Ephesians 5:17).
  2. My cellphone: This symbolizes both my speech & my relationships. I can be short & sharp with my words so I hope that pulling my phone out helps me to pray continually that I’d be a woman who “opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue” (prov. 31:25). Secondly, I want to value my relationships and steward them well, but not be controlled by them by needing the approval of others (Gal. 1:10).
  3. Photo of Danny in my wallet: I see this photo throughout the day and I want to remember that my marriage is of highest importance for it is what displays the gospel to the world (Eph. 5).
  4. My tennis shoes: To me, my shoes represent Vision & Enthusiasm/Passion. I want to be a woman who has a contagious energy about her. I want to continually walk with God and move forward in mission (Isaiah 50:5-7). nike
  5. A pocket mirror: This item brings my mind to 2 values. First, to the verses that describe Character, “Strength & dignity are her clothing” & “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. (prov. 31:25,30)”. Second, it reminds me that God is enthralled by my beauty (ps. 45:11) especially because when he looks on me he sees a Bride, blameless & holy (Eph. 5).
  6. My writing pen: This symbolizes my thoughts and ideas. I am far too protective & prideful of them.I want to surrender my thoughts so that I will be obedient to Christ (2 Cor. 10:5), rather than being opinionated or insightful. This also inspires me to have protected time of just thinking, reflecting, and evaluating so that my inner self is at peace, not in chaos.
  7. Cash/ Debit card: My money represents my possessions. When I see this I want to ask God to steward my purchase to His glory, not just to my comfort.

For now, I just want to practice prayer when I see these items. But, maybe in the future I will symbolically lay them before Jesus when I see my hand (heart) is holding them a bit too tightly. Maybe for you, it is a textbook for your studies, a pacifier to symbolize parenting, a house key to represent your household/home. Whatever it is that you find precious, I challenge you to practice surrender and stewardship in that area. If you lead a smal group, it may be a neat idea to ask your members to bring in an item that they are wanting to steward well for God this year. Hopefully, this is a private, active way to help your mind release to the Lord what already belongs to Him.