Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Missionary love

"How do you know God loves you?"

It's a common question, especially in our world that seems to be wrought with suffering and injustice.  A theologian or philosopher could write volumes on this topic, but I am only a humble missionary and have neither the knowledge nor the understanding to read or write such a treatise.  Then again, I do not need it.

I know God loves me because of a jacket. 

Today I spotted one of my missionary sisters wearing a colorful zippered jacket - it caught my eye immediately and struck me as something I might have bought for myself and loved to wear.  Without really thinking, I teased her, "If you ever want to get rid of that jacket, I'd gladly take it off your hands."  She smiled and I noticed a funny look in her eye as she admitted that she had received many compliments on it in the past.  She then confessed, "This morning I told God that, if it was time for me to give it away, He should send me someone who wants it.  And He sent you."

I was completely taken aback, first just at the idea that such a "coincidence" would occur and then at her overwhelming generosity.  She handed it to me, saying, "Wear it with love," and walked off, not even waiting to be thanked.  Totally self-effacing - a gift freely given.

This missionary was Christ to me today.  Jesus' love was made tangible through her seemingly simple action of giving me the coat off her back.  What a beautiful lesson for me to learn, even before I head out to the mission field -- that true love holds nothing back and has no reservations when it comes to giving of oneself.  True love does not concern itself with whether or not there will be enough "left over" or with having sufficient provisions for the future.  True love just gives.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Sing praise!

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and let all that's within me shout out!

Every Friday night is praise and worship night in the Big Woods community, and I can't imagine a more beautiful or more joyful way to end the week.  We gather together, lifting our hands and raising our voices in song to worship the one true King and to proclaim His love for us.  For me, it's a time for total abandonment, to let go of my desire to control the world around me and to instead place all my trust in the God who knows my every need.

Tonight we also took the opportunity to pray over any members of the community who expressed particular needs.  Each of us is wounded in some way or carrying some unnecessary burden, and what better way to ask for healing than to approach God's throne together.  Jesus said to His disciples, "Where two or three are gathered in My name, there am I in the midst of them." Well, I have no doubt that He heard our prayers tonight, considering there were more than 30 of us all praying in unison!

It's amazing to see how vulnerable we can be with each other.  Because the community is truly becoming a family, we are able to share our weaknesses and most intimate struggles without fear of judgment.  I treasure these moments of grace.  Thank You, Jesus, for giving me this place and these people. Thank You, Jesus, for filling my heart with joy!


Sunday, October 6, 2013

A starting place

Three weeks ago I arrived here in Abbeville, Louisiana.  In some ways I feel as though I just moved in and am still adjusting to the daily schedule, to my responsibilities, to this life of prayer, service, study, and fellowship.  At other times it seems like it's been forever, like Big Woods has always been my home and Family Missions Company has always been my family.

The verse on my heart today is from Psalm 133: "Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!"  I am so blessed to be living in this community surrounded by my missionary brothers and sisters.  Of course, there are moments when I long for a little peace and quiet amongst the beautiful chaos that is community life, but that desire is far outweighed by my gratitude when I realize that there is no better place for me to grow in holiness and in love of the Lord.  Every day I am confronted by my weaknesses and human frailty.  And every day I choose again to offer it all back to Jesus -- all my joys and sufferings, all my failures and successes, all of my poverty.  All is His, for the glory of His Kingdom.