My natural self cries out for comfort and ease. For regularity, predictability.
For a schedule, for heaven’s sake!
But I am learning a thing or two from all of this crazy faith-living. God is near and teaching and speaking and giving me a personal tour of His outlandishly gracious Love for me and for others.
When we said YES! to living in Africa for 18 months we had a certain expectation of how things might happen, how our jobs and lives might unfold. Of course this is absolute nonsense because how in the world could we know anything about life here? Preposterous!
This job of being dorm parents for missionary’s teenagers has proven to be full of the unexpected. Every single day presents a new opportunity for me to open my hands and let go. Amy Carmichael once wrote “In acceptance lieth peace” (Gold Cord) and I think I just might understand her now.
So many things have not happened according to expectations! To hold on would be like trying to desperately grip a rope being yanked away from me. Hands raw. Burning. Only to be left discouraged. Deeply disappointed. Defeated. Are we not to have expectations? Is that even possible?
The devastating flood in Niamey recently was only one of many unexpected events that had me reeling for a tighter grip! Ouch!
So I am learning this lesson – which seems a bit of a repeat for me, slow life-learner that I am – that accepting brings peace. Gladly receiving what God brings my way. Happily adjusting to the circumstances He allows in my life.
Acceptance brings freedom, understanding, and a very real peace.
James 1:17-18 “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.”
So what is the alternative to accepting what God gives?
Complaining. (Which includes a frown and a quite unlovely furrowed brow.)
Arguing. (With others and with God.).
Scheming. (Admittedly, I’m rather good at this one…coming up with “other” – (ahem), better – plans!)
Avoidance and withdrawal.
Living as a victim.
Fighting. Battling against the very thing that has already come my way!
But who really wants to live like that?
I certainly have. And I don’t recommend it!
“I must tell you a great truth, Much-Afraid, which only the few understand. All the fairest beauties in the human soul, its greatest victories, and its most splendid achievements are always those which no one else knows anything about, or can only dimly guess at. Every inner response of the human heart to Love and every conquest over self-love is a new flower on the Tree of Love.”
– The Good Shepherd, speaking to Much-Afraid, in the book Hinds Feet on High Places
God is teaching me about the dazzling beauty of hidden choices and secret acceptances that are going on in my heart. For Him. Out of love for Him, and not anyone else. Inner choices, heartfelt responses. My ministry here in Niger isn’t measurable by human standards. Only by heart standards.
A little less of me and little more room for Him. (Jn 3:30) It’s all happening inside of me and He knows and I know that He knows and this thrills me to no end!
Here are some things I am accepting – and although it hasn’t been easy, I am learning…
- We oversee two large houses full of teenagers on the outskirts of a desperately poor city in a desperately poor country in West Africa. (Our family of five lives in one of them with TEN – yes ten – teenage boys!)
- We stepped into a dorm program that really doesn’t have a “program” – it is unlike anything we were prepared for, as far as the boarding schools we studied. Being rookies to the job, this has been so much harder than we imagined!
- I am a “mom” to seventeen missionary kids with their own ideas and needs and fears and dreams… and hormones. (smile)
- Soccer-mom jigsaw puzzle: we have a driving-to-and-from-school-and-activities schedule that takes an engineer to understand! I am letting go of an orderly way of life (my natural preference), in exchange for the joy of these kids growing and learning and truly living.
- I don’t know the future for our family – walking by faith, not by sight.
- I continually feel extremely under-equipped for the task at hand – depending on God more than I ever have before. Meal planning. Driving. Shopping for so many mouths to feed in this country where there is no Fred Meyer for one-stop-shopping! We go to seven different places to get what we need for daily living! And that is just food and basic toiletries!
- Language barrier daily. Je’ ne parle pas bon francais. (I know, that’s awful. Desole’!)
- Seeing so many children without shoes, carrying bowls to beg for food and not being able to help them. I just want to literally explode and somehow tell them about a radical Love that will forever change their lives! But I can only grab their little brown hands and give them apples, new flip-flops and a loving smile.
- Living through the disaster of the flood and the exhaustion of relocation.
And there will be more! And would you believe I am actually excited about all of this? A miracle! But it is happening inside of me and I am ever-so-thankful for the awfulness of it all because how else does a person really grow?
Romans 5:3 “but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character, and character, hope.”
“The Shepherd laughed too. ‘I love doing preposterous things,’ he replied. ‘Why, I don’t know anything more exhilarating and delightful than turning weakness into strength, and fear into faith, and that which has been marred into perfection.” – The Good Shepherd…Hinds Feet on High Places