All along this whole missionary journey, I've said that I think it's crazy that I will be a missionary. Why? Ok, let's visualize this. You hear the word "missionary". What do you picture in your head? For me, I picture a homely woman with a weirdly patterned skirt that she made herself, hair in a bun and Proverbs 31 written all over her. She's calm, quiet and has twelve kids. Or so. She can quote any Scripture while at the same time show you how to make a meal over an open fire. She is super missionary woman; able to survive all and share Christ at the same time.
In case you don't know, I'm not that picture. I can't sew for my life (straight lines and I have never been friends), my hair is short (with some sass) and I'm sarcastic as all get out. I don't have kids (or a husband but that's another topic, right?). Oh, and I have this fear of fire. Matches freak me out. I'm all about those lighters that you can just click on. Cooking meals (ie. more than smores) over a fire would be frightening.
We all see our own weaknesses so clearly. I can point out all of the reasons why I don't fit into this missionary mold that I have created in my head. The beauty of it is that there is no mold. I've said this to a lot of my friends when referencing me as a missionary: our God is not a mold maker but a mold breaker! Yeah, it sounds cheesy...but it's so true! Let me be your Exibit A for this. I've had to realize this so many times. God has put these desires in my heart and has opened the doors for this. Who I am to disqualify myself when God Himself has qualified me? I could point to my weaknesses and insecurity, back away and not go. Trust me, this is an easy option. I've thought of how my life could be so much easier. I mean, I have a great job. I have good friends here. A good church. Why leave that? I don't think that I could ever quench the passion that He has put in me. I could never be satisfied with an American dream life, white picket fence and all. He has given me a dissatisfaction for that.
All of this to say, I am SO out of my comfort zone. In every way possible. All of this is so not me. A life of change. A life of uncertainty. Speaking in front of people. Being dependent on others. Being fully dependant on God. All of this. It has been SUCH a journey. It's hard; so hard. It's been so stretching. I have my good days and I have my bad days. It's been a rollercoaster in every way. I have become thankful for this time that God has given me, but it's taken a lot. That whole molding and shaping thing He does can be rough.
On happy notes, my brother Matt is getting married in 3 weeks! I'm pumped to go back to Iowa and be with the whole fam! I'm talking to a church back home about support which is a God thing. And I get to be at my home church! I miss it so much! And I am now heading to Elana Verstraete's 3rd birthday party! That girl is growing up so fast! I'm going to miss that family!
Off to some Italian food and the cutest birthday girl!
Thursday, February 5, 2009
I've started reading "Shadow of the Almighty", Elisabeth Elliot's compilation of her late husband Jim's journals, stories and more. This is one of those books that I can't believe that I had not read yet.
With a Lifeway gift card in hand, I walked into the store about a month ago on a search for what to get. I had thought that this would be a somewhat quick trip in and out. I was wrong. I have a slight frustration with Christian bookstores as the whole idea of marketing Jesus makes me want to throw some tables, Jesus style. However, they are great. Really. Just avoid the fish candies at the register. Anyway, back to the story. I walked in on a hunt for a great challenging book. I had an idea of what I was wanting for but for some reason, I just couldn't figure out exactly what it was. At last, I had found about five books that I was seriously considering. It was a wide variety of authors and subjects. I really wanted something that would challenge me where I am at right now. With that, I chose two Elisabeth Elliot books; the aforementioned as well as one on personal discipline.
Confession: I love to read...but I don't as much as I should.
With that confession, I can say that I'm just beginning this book about a month after its purchase. I know. I've stopped hoping that "someday" all of my faults will be gone and realize that some things about me may just never change. For example, I will always procrastinate. However, there are so many things that I need to constantly strive to improve. I'll come up with that list later, procrastination style.
I'm eighty-five pages into the three hundred forty one page book. Not far. Far enough to be challenged and stretched? Affirmative. The life of Jim Elliot is inspiring and challenging. His focus was unbelievable. The pages are filled with stories of his dedication to the cause of Christ and his boldness to share it. It challenges how I view every single day of my life and what I fill them with. When the name "Jim Elliot" comes up, his death is what is most remembered. While reading I thought, "why?". Why did God allow such a passionate dedicated child of His die like this? Jim was doing so much for the Lord and inspired many in his life to serve Him better. Why did this happen? It occurred to me that it is what is most remembered that is the reason. Jim Elliot far glorified Christ more in his death than if he would have if he stayed alive. It was the boldness of Jim that stirs the passions of missionaries to this day; including this one (it's still weird to think of myself as one). It is the reaction of the wives of these men that encourages us to see the people we serve as those to be loved by Him as they went to the same men that killed their husbands to show them the love of Christ. We are to shine Christ's love through us; no matter if this love is returned. Is this not true in our own lives? In mine? Christ's love for me is overwhelming and more than I deserve. What have I done to deserve this? Who am I to receive this? How have I repaid this love? In love, Christ died in order that I would have eternal life. In love, Jim died in order that we would see Christ. It is this form of surrender that is so challenging. Jim described sacrifice like this:
"(Leviticus 17:10) He who consumes blood will ever have the face of God set against him. So with me. If I would save my life-blood, and forbear to pour it out as a sacrifice - thus opposing the example of my Lord - then must I know the flint of the face of God set against my purpose. Father, take my life, yea, my blood if Thou wilt, and consume it with Thine enveloping fire. I would not save it, for it is not mine to save. Have it, Lord, have it all. Pour out my life as an oblation for the world. Blood is only of value as it flows before Thine altar."
THIS is what Christianity is about. Jim's surrender and sacrifice are an example to all of us but more importantly, Christ was Jim's example. It is the sacrifice of Christ that shows us that if our Lord and Savior did this; sacrificed and surrendered it all, how can I refuse? I can't. My life is not my own and thus, not mine to save. The Christian life is hard! It is not easy. Hence my frustration with a marketable Jesus. Sacrifice isn't marketable. Suffering doesn't sell. It gives zero warm fuzzies. It is not sweet tasting, nor shaped like a fish. We look to the example of Christ as well as our fellow believers (check out Hebrews 11!) to spur us on; to help us keep going when we just want to give up. We sacrifice all.
So, have it ALL, Lord. Have it all.