Mustard Seeds

Mustard Seeds

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Obedient Rocks

I would LOVE to write an end of the year update that sounds something like this: 

"20 people came to know the Lord, 2 communities were taken out of abject poverty, and 200 children were saved from disease through God working in my ministry this year."

I would love to say I had a hand in things like that. That I shared the Gospel with people who have never heard the good news, planted churches, relieved people's felt needs, empowered the poor...

Unfortunately, my update might sound much more self-centered. Because the fruit of my ministry (YOUR ministry as you partner with me) seems distant to me... at times invisible. My end of the year report is not about living in a foreign country or working directly with the lost. It is about something that seems entirely different. But yet, as God is showing me more of His purposes, actually is the same thing...

Last week my pastor told us the story of a king who was tired of his castles, wars, power. He asked the local monastery if he could instead live with them, forsaking everything he had. One of the monks told the king that their life was one of obedience to God, to which the king promptly responded, "yes, that is the life I want!" The monk replied, "Then go. God has asked you to be a king, return and be obedient to that calling."

I was instantly struck by the desire of this king to be obedient... somewhere other than where he was called to be. Sound familiar? It did to me. All year I have asked God, "Why am I here? Why the States? Why a job where I am on my computer all the time? Where are the interactions with people?"

To which He often replies, "Be obedient. Not to the calling you want me to give you. To the place where you are now. To the people you are finding it hard to love now. To the tasks I have asked you to complete here."

And that is what makes this update the same as my updates from Mexico, or any update I could give from another ministry. Obedience. It doesn't really matter where I am, or what I am doing. It doesn't matter if I can see the fruit of my labor or if only God can. Because when I am obedient to God's calling, then I am fulfilling my place in His grand plan, and that is the best kind of success.

So, what have I seen in this process of obedience? That God is REALLY working on me, I mean really. I feel that this year has consisted of Him chunking off parts of me that were unsightly or unChristlike and smoothing out my rough edges. I feel like I may have started out the year looking like this:

All the while thinking I looked like a nice, smooth little ocean pebble. And now, I realize I have SO many places where God needs to come in with a chisel. I now look a little less bristly, like this rock below, but, I am still rough. Notice the little crosses on the top of this rock? They give me hope that I might be reflecting God a little bit better as I go through this process. (click the picture for a better look)

Basically, I have seen myself under a magnifying glass this year: my flaws, my inability to love well, my judgmental nature, my pride, my... the list goes on and on. And I have come out feeling raw and frustrated yet refined and challenged. I have felt like a failure, all the while getting to see God succeed. Though the frustration and tears are more common than the parties and confetti, I sense that this is a year I will remember for the rest of my life. The hardest year. The one where God made me look more like Him.

Maybe He is refining me for something harder down the road. Helping me see how to love people now so the people that need His love even more will be easier to share it with. I sense I wouldn't succeed in the harder places of missionary life without this refining first.

So, as I sit behind my computer once again, I don't have much to show you. Maybe I could show you some website content that impacted people, and few videos that spoke to someone, new designs around the office that brightened someone's day, pages of edited workbooks that will be used in churches around the country. Electronic based ministry is hard to pinpoint. But I COULD show you my journal, my prayers, my God moments. There is a lot to be seen there. Maybe something you can learn from. That would be nice!