So, June has gone and I find myself less than month from my planned return to the States (August 4th). Wow. I really don’t know where this month went. But, today, as I was working through some material for the development evaluation I will write, I realized something… your prayers for me didn’t go unanswered… and that’s why these last few weeks have been so uncomfortable- but in a good way. 🙂
Remember that I asked you to pray that I would have more humility, selflessness, and love this month? Well, whether I’ve had them is debatable- but I can definitely see how God’s been molding me. It hurts sometimes when He points out a rough spot in my clay and proceeds to remove it, but how else can He reshape me into a vessel He can use? I was reminded in a prayer meeting on Tuesday night that the Lord chastens those He loves (Hebrews 12:6). More on that in a bit…
Some highlights of the month of June:
– I turned 21… and instead of having a drink (I’m currently under several school/work contracts saying I won’t), I watched “The Lost Weekend,” an old movie that won an oscar for dealing seriously with the issue of alcoholism. Haha…
– an educational seminar about sex-trafficking and child protection for men and women in Kampong Cham
– an interview with Food for the Hungry International
– a five day trip to Bangkok, Thailand to visit and interview organizations fighting sexual exploitation and human trafficking
– read lots of good books- The Ultimate Blessing by Jo Anne Lyon, First They Killed My Father by Loung Ung, and Walking with the Poor by Bryant Myers- I’m still working through several others.
The LORD has given me many opportunities to see how He is working through His church here to fight for justice, healing, and a bright future. Much of the work I see being done here has had simple beginnings… simple obedience as members of the church realize needs and prayerfully try to meet them. Whether it is a couple who began feeding street kids, a group of women who started talking with prostitutes in bars, a few men and women from different denominational backgrounds who began meeting for prayer, or a family that started taking abused and unwanted children into their care- each work began with an act of simple obedience. When I say obedience is simple, I do not mean it is easy. Far from it. Obedience to God when our own will desperately desires another way is a gut-wrenchingly hard choice.
Take me as an example. On Tuesday night at a prayer meeting, the LORD reminded me of something He’d been patiently asking me to do for weeks. I had rationalized, side-stepped, and plugged my ears, telling myself that certainly God had better things to worry about than getting on my case about this non-issue. During the next few days, the merciful Holy Spirit kept whispering in my ear. Finally, I was annoyed and decided to “have it out” with God. I wanted to wrestle with God about this and, like Jacob, escape with minor injuries. 🙂 I wanted my own way, and He would just have to understand that and give in. As I started saying these things out loud, I realized what an utter fool I was. Didn’t I know WHO I was addressing?! Didn’t I fear the consequences of telling God that I knew better? Wasn’t I afraid of waking up the next morning and not feeling His presence with me? Didn’t I realize that my disobedience would not only affect me, but also those I loved and those to whom God intended for me to minister? Wow. Sinking deep inside myself, I cowered in shame. What a fool I am.
My God- my heavenly Father- will never ask anything of me that isn’t for my good. Scriptures describe Him as the father of all good things! If anything He asks of me causes me initial embarrassment, discomfort, or difficulty, I can have faith that He knows better than I. He works all things together for the good of those who love Him- that is His promise. How could I, in my arrogance, tell Him that my way is better?
I am terrified of that bit in me that rose up in defiance of God’s simple request- terrified because I know that I never want to walk in rebellion toward my heavenly Father. I want to fulfill His plan for my life. I want to be a vessel He can use. That is why obedience is simple- because it is simply surrender. Simple surrender of my will to His. His will is infinitely better, as I know, but that root of pride within me wants MY way. So, getting past myself, although not always easy, is radically simple.
I did obey Him, in case you’re still wondering. Only God knows what doors obedience will open. And His knowledge is best… so I surrender.
Thank you all so much for your prayers, love, and encouraging emails. I know battles are won in the supernatural because of your intercession, so thank you, and please keep it up.
Love to you all, from Phnom Penh.
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.”