As I am sorting things physically at our house, I would like to reflect spiritually on some of the purging that God has done in my heart and life over the past 20 years (I'm starting from when I was 7 - ha). In the next few updates, I will be sharing about two areas of my life that God has sorted through and one area that He is working to establish some order at this time. I share these as examples of His incredible power to change us very dramatically when we trust Him and cooperate with Him.
When I was in my 20's, God began to convict me of a habit that was developing in my life. My habit (sin) was talking negatively about other people behind their backs. I was a Christian at this time, but was also immature and insecure. This problem was exposed while I was on a mission trip of all places. Someone had said something to me about Someone Else and I shared with the Someone Else what this Someone said to me about them. This led to a situation that was as complicated as the sentence before this one. In the end, I remember a diplomatic member of our team leading a group of us in prayer and singing the song "Bind us together Lord, Bind us together . . ." It was a humiliating experience, but it was also one of the first times I experienced God's loving hand exposing my sin. He began teaching me about how when sin is exposed, it dies. After this experience on the mission trip, I began to feel a "check" or conviction in my spirit when I would talk negatively about others behind their backs. The assignment God gave me as the next step in this process was to go to the person that I had talked about and tell him/her what I said and ask for their forgiveness. This too was very painful and humiliating, but served to further deter me from engaging in this behavior. God then used a sermon to teach me about the impact of this sin on my relationship with Him and with others. The pastor talked about how slander is something that grieves the heart of God and explained how it impacts our relationship with Him. He said that slander is not only defined as telling lies about people - which I had previously thought. He said, "Slander also includes saying something that is true about a person which impacts the hearer by negatively changing his/her impression about the person who is being discussed." This insight just took it to the next level for me and I began to take steps toward making sure that whatever I said about others outside of their presence was designed to preserve their dignity. I continue to work on this and have by no means "arrived". In fact, as I've been writing this God convicted me of a couple of times recently when I should have stopped words from coming out of my mouth. However, the difference now is that I recognize it as sin and am actively taking steps to cooperate with Him, as opposed to before when I could rationalize and excuse myself for this behavior.
Sometimes it is hard to understand what is God's responsibility in life transformation and what our responsibility is in this process. I see it as a working together - I believe it starts with God prompting and convicting and nudging. But then from there, we need to embrace His loving conviction by being open and willing to take steps to change our behavior. And sometimes He will use humiliating circumstances like a room full of girls singing "Bind us together" while we are drowning in guilt to get our attention. The good news, however, is this: when we respond to His loving conviction, our relationship with Him and with others reaches a new level of intimacy and we get to experience the freedom and joy and peace that comes from living a life that is growing in Christ-like love and purity - by His power and for His glory.
1) A church we were members of in Michigan offered financial support to us this week!
2) We have a growing list of individuals who are also letting us know that they will prayerfully and financially support us. All of the details of being appointed by the mission board need to be finalized prior to us receiving this support.
3) We feel very fortunate to have the social and emotional support that we have. God has also placed several missionaries in our lives with whom we also enjoy community.
4) God is giving us opportunities to interact with the Latin American culture in several creative ways and I find myself growing in a love for this culture.
1) World Missions has let us know that by the middle of next week, we should be officially appointed as partner missionaries. It seems that God is bringing all of these details together at the same time as Dan's busy time is wrapping up, our trip to Nicaragua is coming up, and an official appointment is on the up and up!
2) Please continue to pray for me to be focused with the task of sorting/purging/ and making lots of decisions about our stuff. We so appreciate the two families who are caring for our children today (Friday) while I spend the day and evening working on this. I will also have time on Sat. while Dan spends the day with the kids. We thank God too for our neighbors who just called today and asked if I'd be interested in doing a garage sale with them - again, perfect timing!
3) Please continue to pray for my dad's health. Doctors have put him on a new blood pressure medication. His headaches are improving a little, but still there.
Will and his friends were trying to figure out how they were going to keep in touch when he moves to Nicaragua. One friend said, "Do the strings from our computers here reach to Nicaragua?" The other friend asked, "Will, will your computer talk to mine in Spanish or in English?" Will said, "I don't know. Mom!"