Friday, August 03, 2007
The top two floors of the white building (with all the windows on the very top) are ours.
Since we arrived here two weeks ago I have been on an emotional roller coaster. Within the same day I have felt excited, discouraged, hopeless, despairing, encouraged, angry, frustrated, and content. I have found that in times of transition, especially when I am tired that negative emotions are exponentially more intense. I have been thinking lately about discouragement. It hits me like a wave; I lose perspective on everything and just want to curl up in a ball or go back to America or whatever will put me on the road to escape. I do not actually do any of those things but the feeling can be overwhelming.
Then a little later after the moment has passed, and I am seeing straight again, I wonder what was going on earlier. Why was it so intense? Why could I not see a way out of it? What was really going on inside of me? Why was I holding onto it so tightly and could not let go?
At those times I feel a pain that I do not understand, cannot describe, and do not recognize until later. Everything in me tells me to make the pain stop and that usually means to stop/shut down/shut up whoever is causing the pain.
I so want to get to the place where instead of reacting like that I instead recognize what is really going on and deal with it through clear communication. I want to feel it, but I also want to recognize it, recognize what is really going on, see whatever lies I am believing, find the truth, and bless whoever is causing the pain. I long for this like I long for a breeze on a hot day.
At those times I want to see Jesus. I want to see Him when I fail and respond harshly; but moreso I want to see Him in that split-second that it takes me to react before I know what is going on. In that nanosecond between the pain-causing act and the reactionary torrent of either angry words or total system shutdown I want Him to speak peace and let His grace and Spirit flow in me to respond as He would if He were me.
I do not see this happen yet. I see Him in the "failure", and that is okay because it reminds me that I still need Him desparately. May the day soon come when I see Him in the storm and have the faith that He will keep me from drowning and not have to cry out in such a way, that He rebukes me with, "O ye of little faith!"
The Good News is that even when He has to say those words, He still brings peace in the storm. And more Good News is that He has promised to complete His work in me, which means that someday- may it be sooner rather than later, Lord- He will mature me into the person who sees Him in that split-second and is changed because of it. He may need to heal some wounds from the past in order for that to happen. I may need to take some steps in order to change habits. I may need help from others in the process. May this be another journey I am able to enjoy. And most of all may those closest to me have the grace to stay on this journey with me and see Jesus in it as well.
Thursday, August 02, 2007
Another self-portrait taken while I was setting up the camera for a group shot.
Learning language is always hard work. I am finding that motivation is coming more slowly as I begin learning my fourth language (besides English), but with each lesson I get a little more excited that it is doable. I have been surprised at how many words in Turkish and Uzbek are either similar or the same. However, the pronuciation is so different that I usually have no idea what I am hearing, even though if I see it in writing I would understand most of it. I find it very funny that while learning Kazak, I was never told that I had a Kazak accent. I always sounded like a foreigner. But when we started learning Uzbek, I was told I spoke it with a Kazak accent. So I somehow acquired a Kazak accent after I left Kazakstan. And now that I am in Turkey I am finding that I am speaking Turkish with an Uzbek accent, which I never had in Uzbekistan. And the major tragedy in all of this language experience is that since I moved to California in 1991, I have lost my southern accent, which I will somehow need to re-acquire if I am going to understand God when He speaks to me in Heaven!
And now onto more serious matters...
The prophet Jeremiah often says that, "the Word of the Lord came to me." When I read this recently I started thinking about how often the servants God uses were seeking Him versus just doing their own thing when He chose them. A quick study shows that most of them were not seeking to be used by Him and some (Moses is the best example) were not excited about the "call". However, most obeyed right away. And looking at their lives it is very clear why people were not lining up for the job, as pretty much 100% of them had very difficult lives most ending in martyrdom.
At the same time Jeremiah does say in chapter 29 that those who "seek God with all their heart" will find Him. But I think in this passage He is not talking about seeking to be a servant as much as seeking to know and obey and walk in His path (obedience).
This lead me to think about both my "calling" as well as how we generally go about it today with mobilizers and the like. A whole industry has developed to help people find what Jesus is "calling/inviting" them to do. What is driving it? Why has it developed? Is it good, bad, or neutral? I am a product of it as are most people I know, so what does that mean? Where do we draw the line between "making the most of the opportunity/using our resources to their fullest" and waiting, listening, walking with the Spirit? Do they have to conflict? When do they conflict?
We have passion conferences and Urbana and many similar events. We are encouraged to pray about what God has for us to do. What is He calling me to? How can I serve? How am I gifted? and so on. As often as not in the Bible, however, people were just doing their thing- farming, shepherding, worshipping, searching for a lost donkey, sleeping, working, fishing,... when BAM! out of nowhere God steps in and says, "I have a job for you." or "Follow me." or "Who will go for us?" or "I want you to be king." or "Go and tell the people of Judah to repent." Most of them were not searching for it, were not even thinking about it; and they were in the perfect place for God to use them. Corrie Ten Boom is probably a good modern example.
I think of books I have enjoyed like, Don't Waste Your Life by Dr. John Piper. I was encouraged and challenged by his words. But were most of the people listed above "wasting their life"? Are we discouraging people or making them feel like lesser disciples if they "just" do their job and raise their family? Is that right? Or when is it right and when is it not right? Lots to think about... May we all be where God wants us.