Monday, February 22, 2010

A Stack of Letters

I just stuffed the envelopes that hold the letters that I will send to those friends and family members I know and love. You know... the envelopes asking them for money to send me to Uganda. Ohhhh yeah! Those envelopes. The ones I have been dreading to send. The ones I have been embarrassed to send. The ones my PRIDE has been keeping me from preparing. Oh yeah, those envelopes.

But a funny thing happened while I was stuffing them, writing the names, praying over each family and their willingness to give. I began to get so, so excited. I mean smile-spread-across-your-face-can't-hold-it-in-call-your-neighbor excited. God did it again. He changed me. He humbled me. All while I was licking an envelope.

You see, those envelopes are the first step in this trip that God has called me on. They are the first connection I have with Uganda. The first chance I have to actively trust in and rely on God. I have always been able to mouth "God, I trust you" while really placing my faith in my own hands, words, or actions. I have always had a backup plan, a savings account, some means of salvation other than the Father. I told Him I trusted Him, but I knew if He failed me, I always had my safety net. But right now, as I look at those envelopes, those are all I have. I don't have a backup plan. No savings account. I put my yes on the table not knowing how to get there, and this is where He led me, putting my pride on the line and asking people for help. And strangely enough, I am wildly excited about it. I have no say in what God will prompt people to give, if God will prompt people to give. I have no say in how long I will have to wait for an answer for my prayers for support. I have no say in if people will support. All I know is that I am trusting in Him to provide, and I have never felt such freedom.

So as I sit here and look at this stack of letters, I am so excited. I am bracing myself for what the Lord is going to do, because when God moves, whether in a flood or in a still, small voice, His movement revolutionizes and changes people. He is already moving in my life. Keep moving Lord. Keep changing me.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Lord, I believe.

I am going to Uganda. It is something that I have wanted to do since I was in high school, and I never got the chance to do it. Even with this trip, I almost said no because I don't have a dime to spare. I have absolutely no way to pay for the trip. For some reason, the Lord has silenced my fears and assured me that he will provide. It wasn't like this two weeks ago. It wasn't even like this two days ago. As I wrote my support letter yesterday I had to time out, stop, and write a prayer in my journal.

"I believe; help my unbelief." Mark 9:24

This morning as I spent some time in prayer about the trip, about the people of Uganda, about my team, and about my own heart. I had to stop and praise. I felt an overwhelming peace as I rested in the fact that I knew God would provide. I am unsure of where the money will come from. I am unsure of how I will raise it. I am simply sure that it will come. The beauty of this fact is that God will receive TOTAL glory, because I have NOTHING to do with getting myself to Uganda. I am simply stepping out in faith in my Father, something we Christians should do daily. Something, I am ashamed to admit, I am doing for the first time in my walk.

I got a phone call today. I haven't even sent out letters yet, but someone very unexpected wants to give $500 to my trip.

Lord, I believe.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Costly Grace

Is it possible to take up your cross, to truly take up your cross and follow Christ and live like an American? God is beginning to convince me that it is not possible to live a life of comfort and ignore the cries of His people all around us. He is doing so through scripture. Through teaching. Through breaking me and making me uncomfortable in my own surroundings, in my own life. Through making me aware. Through reflection. Through conversation. Through relationship with a few key believers who are being challenged in similar ways. He is doing so intentionally. You see, Christianity should look Radical. Faith Based. Trying. Full of indescribable joy. Sacrificial. Scary at times. Necessary of trust in our God. Father. Master. Maker. Guider. Keeper. Healer. Provider.

As I sat and talked to a dear friend about this very idea yesterday I was so excited because I was talking to someone who gets it. Someone who wasn't just smiling and nodding at me, someone who wasn't just looking past me, or listening with eyes that said "that's radical and all good for you...but..." I mean, this friend really gets it, and this friend is really going to live it, which is so encouraging. And then, as I talked about my prayers for my life, he offered a solid challenge. I let him know what I was praying about when I graduate. Does God want me to:

A: Give up this life of comfort and move overseas to teach and work with children of another country for His namesake.
B: Give up this life of comfort and move to downtown Raleigh working with Hunter Elementary or another low-income school to renew this city for His namesake.

As I discussed my heart and my prayers he simply mentioned one thing that shook me. While it is important to pray for the future, we need to pray for now. We need to carry our cross now. This week. Tomorrow. Twenty minutes from now. How does God want us to live sacrificially, thinking of ourselves as the least of these RIGHT NOW? How does he want us to give it all up right now? Why wait?

And so I ask, are you living in a manner that shows that you are a follower of Christ? Are you carrying your cross? This is not just a phrase that we can pass over because we have heard it a thousand times, this is a life changing, uncomfortable, faith based lifestyle. It hurts. It means giving it all. It means following the Lord where it doesn't really make sense. It means moving into a smaller house, driving a cheaper car, and giving up the nicer clothes because that money should go to someone in need. It means going to the nations, even though you will give it ALL up, all of your comforts, because people need to hear the name of Jesus. It means looking like a fool around that girl in your class because you are standing up for and speaking up for the one who shed his blood for you. We can't be silent. We can't be still. We have to look different, radical. So why do so many of us look just like the world? Why do I have such a hard time living in a way that puts zero trust in myself, and all trust in my Father?

Lord, teach me how to take up my cross today. May others do the same, but should none go with me, still I will follow you. Help me lose my life in you.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Lord, Teach Me.

Lord, this day, teach me to speak to you. I am a woman of unclean lips, but I want to come before you. Teach me to love you, for I am but a broken hearted girl who gives that heart away to this world, too easily forgetting what True Love is. Teach me to think on you, for I am a human, bruised and broken by the fall, mind corrupted, full of anxiety and worry. Teach me to see like you, for my eyes are tainted for myself with ambition that reflects only my desires and needs, filtering out the pain of both believers and nonbelievers around me. Lord, teach me to serve like you, without thoughts of what I may receive in return, but with thoughts of bringing ultimate glory to my Father in heaven. Lord, teach me to be like you.

Philippians 2:1-11

If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death- even death on a cross... to the glory of God the Father.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

You are still God

You are stripping away the parts that I hide behind. Breaking the fortress that I lean on. This comfort that was once so easy has fallen around me. The people that were once so supportive are beginning to fail. The places that once felt at home are not as friendly. I am so unsettled here and I don't know why. God, you are tearing and ripping, and just when I think you are finished, just when I think I can dry my eyes, something else falls. It is no accident that you are making me uncomfortable, it is true I was far too complacent with the day to day I was walking in. Far too happy with the life I had created for myself. I needed you, but I didn't need you. I didn't even realize it. Forgive me for walking in comfort. Thank you for waking me up. Thank you for refining me.

I will bring praise.

All of my life
In every season
You are still God
I have a reason to sing
I have a reason to worship

I will bring praise.