Friday, December 24, 2010

When The Saints...

When discouragement comes, when despair sets in, when you feel completely alone, remember that you are not alone on this journey toward Christ-likeness.

Follow the footsteps of the ancients.

Look back.
Remember the Christians through the ages. Think about the foundation of the Church in Acts. Read Foxes' Book of Martyrs and see what Christians have gone through for Christ's sake. Muse on the lives of individuals like William Wilberforce, St. Augustine, Harriet Tubman, Martin Luther, C.S. Lewis, Mother Thersea, St. Francis of Assissi, Corrie Ten Boom, Watchman Nee, George Muller, Amy Carmichael, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, St. Patrick, Thomas Aquinas, John Calvin, Jim Elliot and many, many others.

Look around. See the global Church. There are Christians around the world facing trials of different kinds. People around the world are fighting now for Christ's sake. There are organizations such as IJM that are publicly doing a lot to pursue justice around the world in Christ's name. These organizations are wonderful and do a lot of good, but remember that there are people fighting individually as well. Remember the catholic (global) Church and remember your connection to these people around the world.

We are saints together with these others. Together, we represent the Bride of Christ. This is both an encouragement and an admonition. It is an encouragement because we have the writings and wisdom and support of all of these siblings. We do not fight alone. Yet it is also an admonition to be functioning as part of this Body, to receive from the ancient and modern saints and to give what we can to current and future saints.

As Sara Groves sings, "When the saints go marching in, I wanna be one of them!"

When The Saints (Sara Groves):

Lord I have a heavy burden of all I've seen and know
It's more than I can handle
But your word is burning like a fire shut up in my bones
and I cannot let it go

And when I'm weary and overwrought
with so many battles left unfought

I think of Paul and Silas in the prison yard
I hear their song of freedom rising to the stars
And when the Saints go marching in
I want to be one of them

Lord it's all that I can't carry and cannot leave behind
it often overwhelms me
but when I think of all who've gone before and lived the faithful life
their courage compels me
And when I'm weary and overwrought
with so many battles left unfought

I think of Paul and Silas in the prison yard
I hear their song of freedom rising to the stars

I see the shepherd Moses in the Pharohs court
I hear his call for freedom for the people of the Lord

And when the Saints go marching in
I want to be one of them
And when the Saints go marching in

I want to be one of them

I see the long quiet walk along the Underground Railroad
I see the slave awakening to the value of her soul

I see the young missionary and the angry spear
I see his family returning with no trace of fear

I see the long hard shadows of Calcutta nights
I see the sister standing by the dying man's side

I see the young girl huddled on the brothel floor
I see the man with a passion come and kicking down the door

I see the man of sorrows and his long troubled road
I see the world on his shoulders and my easy load

And when the Saints go marching in
I want to be one of them
and when the Saints go marching in
I want to be one of them

Saturday, October 23, 2010

on days when the pain is inescapable...

Today the pain is inescapable. My physical pain has been really intense this week, nauseating at times. And moreover, I continue to see brokenness all around me in my own life and in the lives of others. Life is hard. But it doesn't do any good to stop there. I have been commanded to not complain (Phil 2:14). is what I do on days (like today) when the pain is inescapable. This list is not exhaustive. And my human responses are not perfect. But here's how I'm handling today.

-I shut the blinds, turn down the A/C and crawl under the covers hoping that at least the migraine will leave

-I choose humility and accept the wheelchair and an offer to push me to dinner

-I journal, collecting my thoughts, my prayers, my fears, my thanks.

-I pray for him, this man God has blessed me with

-I "feed on His faithfulness" (Psalm 37) and remind myself how He's always been faithful

-I press repeat and hear Christy Nockel's sweet voice reminding me of the simple truth that Jesus Loves Me in the form of a lullaby.

-I prepare to take my girls to the women's event on campus and pray that it will open up good conversations

-I update my gratitude journal

-I preach the Truth to myself (like Psalm 103)

-I remind myself that my life is all about dying

-I thank Jesus for the chance to minister and love on these girls He's placed in my hall and the friends that surround me as well

-I hold my Bible tight, my fingers caressing the tear-stained pages and force myself to be re-amazed at the Gospel, which I often take for granted.

-I thank Jesus for adopted little sisters (you know who you are!!) who fill in when my own can't be here

-I sent texts of love to my baby sisters and tell them how proud I am of them

-I confess my sin, acknowledging and agreeing with God about what it is and refusing to put pretty labels on it or make excuses

-I pull out a favorite devotional and see how saints through the ages have endured

-I delight in the fact that I'm going to Heaven where I will see Jesus (Rev 21-22) and all will be right.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

one year

(this is an adaption of a paper that I wrote for one of my professors earlier in the semester)

It has been 12 months since I got sick. 12 months of constant pain. 12 months of doctors’ appointments and medication. 12 months of explaining to friends and strangers. 12 months of fighting every day. I never want to pretend it’s easy – it’s not. But in addition to all the awful parts, it’s been 12 months of relying on God’s faithfulness daily. 12 months of learning to surrender. 12 months of a body reminding me to yearn for heaven. 12 months of seeing the people of God rally around in support. 12 months of sharing how He’s gotten me through. 12 months of constant mental repetition of Truth. 12 months of remembering that the Christian life is about dying to self. While being sick is changing how I think about my future (i.e. what jobs I will have, whether or not I will ever be a wife and a mother, what my body will be able to do in 5 years), I am reminded that my illness has in no way changed God’s plans for my future. Suffering on this earth is temporary (even though it doesn’t feel very temporary) and the Christian life is not to be confused with the American dream.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

the healer of my heart

We stand in chapel and sing out praises to God, calling Him "the healer". My stomach churns within me. My aching body reminds me that I have yet to be physically healed. The wheelchair sitting next to me, waiting to be used again after chapel, taunts that I am still sick.

I believe that God has the power to heal me. I've read the Gospels where He is shown as having power over dieases and disabilities. And I believe that He has healed others.

But I don't believe that it's always God's will for people to be healed.

At least not physically.

I cry out to God saying, "Don't you see my desperation? See how much I need You to heal me?"

But the Truth remains.

So much more than a healer for my body, I need a healer for my heart.

Without Jesus, my heart is bruised, decrepid and rotten.

Oh Great Physician of my soul, come and bring the healing I so desperately need.

Friday, June 18, 2010

practicing gratitude

Delighting in the everyday.

Seeing beauty amongst the ordinary.

Capturing the echos of Eden.

Glimpsing into what waits in Heaven.

Slowing to appreciate fully.

It's not simply capturing and enjoying the moments. It's expressing gratitude to God for them.


Thanking God for the little things.

Thanking God in the midst of bad things.

We excel in areas we practice. This is my year to practice gratitude. Some days I fail. I keep a journal. A gratitude journal. A list of the things for which I give thanks. (The idea is not my own - I'm terribly uncreative. It is credited to Ann Voskamp)

A few highlights:

177. lunch dates with littlest sister
180. pregnant women, such a visible reminder of waiting expectantly
181. living intentionally with the people around me
185. suffering - Philippians 1:29
187. getting a real letter
200. waking up before the alarm
201. children blissfully unaware
221. happy airport reunions
222. going somewhere new sans GPS
224. an afternoon on a boat
228. flowers as delicate as fairies
229. fresh haircuts
237. dragonflies flitting about
246. laughing so hard it hurts
247. a field of fireflies

Friday, May 21, 2010

Thoughts on God's Goodness

The other day I was part of a chain message. One friend was sharing exciting news and began "God is SOOOOOOO GOOD". Someone else replied, congratulating them on their news and said, "Yes, our God is good". Deep sorrow immediately overtook me when I read those words. It's in no way a judgment against these friends. Instead it was a recognition of my personal tendency to say these words lightly.

How often I have I used those words flippantly? "...So this great thing happened and, oh yeah, God is so good!". Even the times I meant it, did I truly believe it no matter the cost? We are quick to praise God's goodness when things work out as we wanted. In some ways it's a Christian catch-phrase that's just tacked onto the end of a conversation. Sort of a clincher to the conversation. Give a slight pause to add an air of reflection .... and then launch right into the next topic for discussion.

Flannery O'Connor (American author who died at the age of 39 from lupus) wrote, "The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it." Am I just as willing to praise God's goodness in hard situations? After all, "the truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it".

My current situation in life does not allow me to freely use the words "God is so good." The truth has not change despite my "ability to stomach it". Yet using these words flippantly is not an option. Therefore I grit my teeth in determination and declare that despite how I feel or how it "seems to be" that my God is good.

He is good whether or not I receive a miraculous healing.

He is good whether or not I make it into a top grad school.

He is good whether or not I spend the rest of my life in poverty or in surplus.

He is good whether or not I receive the blessing of a husband and children.

He is good whether or not I live the rest of my life with incurable diseases.

The fact is, despite my ability to "stomach it" at any point in my life, God is still good.

"When it's dark and it's cold and I can't feel my soul, You are so good,
When the world has gone gray and the rain's here to stay, You are still good"

Friday, May 14, 2010

On The Eve of Your Graduation from High School

To my beautiful, brilliant and darling baby sister.

Here we are! You just about to begin your first undergraduate year and I, my last. I am so proud of your life thus far. We both wished that this year would be spent together at college, but since things worked out differently, I decided to share with you my "wisdom" from three years of personal experience and three years of observing the lives of other undergraduates. May it be a blessing.

YOU sweet sister are a blessing. I'm so glad that God gave me a little sister (even through it's true that I didn't like you at first). I am so thrilled that I get to be friends with you for life!

(Many thanks to Marlena for the idea of turning this into a blog post!)

à Jealously guard how you spend your time to avoid wasting time and burnout, yet allow your schedule to be under God’s control. Your time can be sucked away by being wasted (facebook, etc) or even by “good” things (ministry opportunities). Make time for the Lord, for sincere reading of Scripture, for listening to God, for homework, for ministry, for friends, for fun. Balance these and evaluate if you are making good use of your time. Don’t always measure your use of time by productivity. Stopping a homework assignment to listen a distraught friend may indeed be the best use of your time at that moment.

à Become best friends with the library and the librarians. Doing homework in the library will keep you from getting distracted. Plus, the library is kind of esoteric. It’s nice to be “in”

à Find a mentor (older woman on campus/at church) and meet with her regularly (if you can’t find someone right away, ask around for suggestions). Be honest with them and have them hold you accountable

à Spend a little bit looking for a church and then just pick one! No church is going to be perfect, so stop looking for it. Once you pick a church commit to staying there during your time at school and GET INVOLVED! They can become your second family. Get involved with music and with the children

à Find families who you can be involved with. One of the greatest things I’ve been able to do is babysit for some young couples for free. It has been a huge blessing to them and it’s also good for singles to be involved with families. It broadens your perspective on life. As singles, we need to be investing in (and supporting) the marriages around us.

à When you meet someone who seems like they really know Jesus, ask if you can meet them for coffee and hear their testimony

à Choose thankfulness for the food (especially since you’ll be on a special meal plan due to allergies). It might not always be your favorite, but it is a gift from God and someone spent time making it for you.

à Don’t date for at least a year. Become friends (good friends) with guys, but keep it at that.

à Be careful that you don’t encourage girls who have crushes. Think of Song of Solomon where Shulammith (the bride) says to the girls around her “Do not stir up or awaken love until it so pleases”. Encourage the girls around you to make good choices and have level heads. Listen to them, but don’t encourage obsessing over guys.

à Get to know your professors. Go up and introduce yourself on the first day of class. Stay in contact with them. If they are super cool (i.e. super wise), ask if you can meet them for coffee or a meal.

à Avoid girl drama. Nip it in the bud if it starts among your friends. Don’t put up with catty actions and certainly don’t start them yourself. It DOES get hard to live with girls constantly, but that’s not an excuse for sin.

à Spend time alone and outside. Grab a blanket and your Bible and spend an hour in a field (if there are fields around you…obviously I’m from a rural campus!!)

à Get to know your RA and RD. Stop by and talk to them. Write them encouraging notes, etc.

à Be careful what movies and TV shows you are watching. Evaluate everything based on Scripture and remember that wasting time is a sin as well.

à Make time for a Sabbath each week. Set aside time alone with just you and God. Ignore your phone, homework, friends, etc. Begin this practice early on.

à Be kind to everyone and try and get to know a lot of people, BUT realize that you don’t need to be open and honest with everyone. Choose your closest friends wisely.

à Realize that you are going to make mistakes. It’s just part of life.

à Don’t shy away from classes because you know that they are hard. Hard is good. You learn a lot more. With your bible classes especially, take the hard professors

à Spend time with people who think differently than you do (theologically, philosophically, etc). Spend time listening to their arguments. Your views on things are going to expand and broaden at college – that’s good! It is a mark of maturity to be able to have an educated, calm discussion with people who think differently than you. Evaluate EVERYTHING (even your presuppositions) to see how the measure up against the ultimate yardstick (the Bible).

à Look for the people around campus who don’t get notice (custodians, grounds crew, etc) and thank them for doing their job well. Show them that they are appreciated.

à Enjoy these years! They go by so quickly.

à When you get stressed and life feel completely overwhelming, take a break to clean your room from top to bottom, wash your sheets and wash your bath towels. Trust me. It helps!


Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Bread of Life

Baking bread alongside The Bread

Empty. Expectant. Waiting to be filled.

"Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believe in Me has everlasting life. I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will lie forever; and the bread that I shall ive is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world."

chronic control freak chooses daily surrender

It's true.

I'm a control freak.

I like things orderly, neat and predicable.

As of late my life has been anything but predicable. The past two "breaks" are perfect examples. Christmas break was spent almost entirely at the neurologist's office. The large majority of my time was either spent on the couch or at Dr. Lee's. It was a long, long break. The semester that followed seemed just as long at times. When this semester finally ended I was headed home for three weeks of respite and recovery before heading back to school for a summer job. I was going to enjoy time with my family, work some on my summer classes and, oh yeah, check in with my neurologist, rheumatologist and general practitioner. The freakish side of me that likes everything to be perfectly scheduled was very happy with this perfectly planned break.

Life isn't perfect.

Things don't go as planned.

Hadn't I learned this yet?

The neurologist is worried. Things aren't right. He's reordering all my tests from Christmas. Suddenly my three weeks of rest turn into three weeks of tests and appointments. In addition to the neurology exams we're adding in appointments with a chiropractor and a massage therapist, and of course, visits to my other doctors.

(Side note: can I just say that I have a really awesome medical staff?? My doctors and nurses are fantastic and I appreciate them all so much.)

I surrendered my life to Jesus and gave Him control when I became a Christian. But it's really a daily choice. Daily saying that He has control over my heath, my schedule, my plans, my family, my grades, my tongue, my entertainment choices and everything else.

I was reminded tonight of something I journaled about a month ago. I wrote, "I am attempting to embrace my struggle thus hoping to give dignity to my humanity. I recognize with each undesired, uncontrollable spasm and quiver of my body that I am not in control. That life is not about me. I am helpless to control my flesh just as I am helpless to control my world. As I lie awake at night, restless, weary, exhausted I am reminded that my sustainment comes from YHWH. When deep aches and sharp pains buffet my frame, I recall Your suffering in my place. Sweet Jesus, I choose surrender."

Truth be told, I hate surrendering. I desperately want to control every aspect of life within my grasp. But I am learning. I am learning slowly. I am learning because I am being forced to learn. It's been good. Mostly. ; )

On another note, along with practicing surrender I am practicing gratitude. Here are some of my recent "everyday epiphanies":

Gratitude Journal Entries 146 - 154

146. late night talks including giggles and tears
147. coming home to be embraced by people who love me
148. handwritten letters
149. an old book as familiar and endearing as a treasured friend
150. seeing people bond over favorite books
151. raindrops pounding on the roof
152. singing along to the music
153. cool air moving in from a thunderstorm
154. seeing the sun prevail through the storm

Monday, May 3, 2010

Why I'm Getting Rid of Facebook Again

Yesterday, after over a month of being "facebook-less", I reactivated my account. Originally I deactivated it because it was annoying me and proving a big time waster and, while there were a few times where I missed it, I largely enjoyed the freedom of not having an account. But the semester ended and thus my close friends are scattered around the country and the world. I decided to reactivate my account last night to stay in touch with them.

Already, I am seriously considering deactivating my account again. Here are some things I am noticing about my life when I am "facebook-less".

Without Facebook:

1) I am more intentional - I cannot simply stay updated on people's lives by stalking their walls. I have seek out to contact them by writing a note and calling them. When I know that someone is having a bad day, it's because I took the time to talk to them, not because their status update popped up in my news feed.

2) I am more grateful - Seeing relationship statuses change, seeing hundreds of albums of engagement pictures, wedding pictures and "baby bump" pictures can lead to some pretty serious discontentment pretty quickly. At the same time, seeing people post pictures of great vacations, cute apartments, new cars and more makes that 10th commandment all the easier to break. I've been practicing gratitude lately and not having facebook has helped a lot!

3) I simplify my life - I'm not trying to keep up with 563 peoples lives!! I tried parring down a bit. My list of "Friends" went down to about 120. But still... since when is the definition of a "Friend" someone who requested and was accepted? Isn't this simply cheapening true friendship? Facebook = overstimulation for me. There's too much going on in one little space. Plus, It's one less thing to check (i.e. phone, e-mail, blog, mailbox, etc).

4) I waste less time - I know it's silly, but I'm really terrible about doing things in moderation. I am an all or nothing kind of girl. So I'm perfectly content and truly happy to be without Facebook. But if I have it, I'm going to be thinking about all the time.

This may not be the most inspiring post. This is certainly not a well-written post. But perhaps it will at least provide insight to anyone who wonders why I suddenly fell off the face of the [facebook] world.

If you want to contact me, send a handwritten letter (you'll have my heart forever with that one!), leave a comment here, call or e-mail because I think I'm going to retreat back into the silence and simplicity of a life without facebook.... The world is quieter there....

Saturday, April 17, 2010

I Was Wrong

(Also known as: Sabbath, revisited)

Shabbat isn't about beginning my week well-rested. Shabbat isn't about slowing down my life. Shabbat isn't about having "me" time.

Simply put, Shabbat isn't about me.

Shabbat is about Him.

"...there is something, in the Jewish Sabbath that is absent from most Christian Sundays: a true cessation from the rhythms of work and world, a time wholly set apart, and, perhaps above all, a sense that the point of Shabbat, the orientation of Shabbat, is toward God.

Pick up any glossy women's magazine from the last few years and you'll see what I mean. The Sabbath has come back into fashion, even among the most secular Americans, but the Sabbath we now embrace is a curious one. Articles abound extolling the virtues of treating yourself to a day of rest, a relaxing and leisurely visit to the spa, an extra-long bubble bath, and a glass of chardonnay. Take a day off, the magazines urge their harried readers. Rest.

There might be something to celebrate in this revival of Sabbath, but it seems to me that there are at least two flaws in the reasoning. First is what we might call capitalism's justification for Sabbath rest: resting one day a week makes you more productive during the other six. Or, as my father has often told me, I'll get more done working eleven months a year than twelve. And while that may be true, rest for the sake of future productivity is at odds with the spirit of Shabbat.

We could call the second problem with the current Sabbath vogue the fallacy of the direct object. Whom is the contemporary Sabbath designed to honor? Whom does it benefit? Why, the bubble-bath taker herself, of course! The Bible suggests something different. In observing the Sabbath, one is both giving a gift to God and imitating Him. Exodus and Deuteronomy make this clear when they say, 'Six days shall you labor and do all your work to the Lord your God.' To the Lord your God." (Excerpt from Mudhouse Sabbath by )

Shabbat isn't about me.

If it were, I would give up as soon as I "felt rested".

Life isn't about me.

If it were, I would have given up on this weary journey long ago.

Shabbat is about Him.

Life is about Him.

It's all about Him.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

"future trophy wife" (follow the link)

Judging from this post, I feel like Amanda I would be good friends! I can just hear myself ranting to a friend (namely, Alissa) over these same issues!

p.s. A reader commented that she was trying to keep her daughters' from dressing immodestly and from getting a 'diva' attitude. She summed it up perfectly when she wrote, "Diva is just a fancy for sinner."

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Snowdays and Sabbaths

“There is something joyful about storms that interrupt routine. Snow or freezing rain suddenly releases you from expectations, performance demands, and the tyranny of appointments and schedules. And unlike illness, it is largely a corporate rather than individual experience. One can almost hear a unified sigh rise from the nearby city and surrounding countryside where Nature has intervened to give respite to the weary humans slogging it out within her purview. All those affected by this are united by a mutual excuse, and the heart is suddenly and unexpectedly a little giddy. There will be no apologizes needed for not showing up to some commitment or other. Everyone understands and shares in this singular justification, and the sudden alleviation of the pressure to produce makes the heart merry.”

-Excerpt from The Shack by William P. Young

Living on a college campus, I feel that the anxiety of an anticipated snow day more than others. The number of prayers issued forth on a single wintry eve no doubt (and quite unfortunately) are exponentially higher than any other time (with the singular exception of exam week!). Once, when school was canceled halfway through the day, I was sitting in our cafeteria and could visibly watch people’s reactions as the joyous news spread throughout the tables of undergraduates.

All this makes me think. Why is it such a relief when we are forced to slow down? Could it perhaps be that we were created to slow down? Was this God’s original intent? After all, the first thing God does after the Creation of the world is rest. And He creates a special day set aside as a rest. Are snowdays simply a forced, modern substitute for the Sabbath?

Perhaps we should embrace this idea, the idea of a rest, a Sabbath, a slowing down. Think of the refreshment that comes from a single snow day. Why not gives ourselves that rest every week? Imagine setting time aside to simply live, breathe, exist.

Too busy, you say? I think not. After all, how much wasted time do you have each day that is spent surfing the internet or flipping TV channels? Put this time to good use, a make time for a Sabbath. Furthermore, a Sabbath would provide refreshment which would make the rest of the week run smoother. In essence, you are more prepared for the week because you have rested both physically and mentally so you will work faster and more effectively.

Try it. For the next month commit to setting aside one day as a Sabbath. Work ahead on projects so that you can truly rest. Spend that time with family or friends. Catch up on pleasure reading (a novality for any college student, or any adult for that matter!). Take a walk and breathe in nature while reflecting on Browning’s famous quote (“Earth’s crammed with Heaven and every common bush aflame with God”). Turn off the TV. Turn off the computer. Ignore your cell phone. Refuse to feel guilty over “wasted” time. Stop trying to make the most of every moment and learn to simply enjoy every moment.

Treat yourself to a “snowday.”




Monday, March 1, 2010

I Journal...

Because journaling clarifies my thoughts

Because journaling lessens the need to discuss hurts with other people

Because journaling can encourage the saints (think Oswald Chambers and Jim Elliot)

Because journaling will be an "omer of manna" for future generations (Exodus 16:32-33)

Because journaling reveals my motives

Because journaling collects my prayers

Because journaling shows my growth and how I have changed over time

Because journaling allows me to express myself, mistakes and all, with no expectations, no condemnation, no time expiration

Because journaling requires me to slow down in the midst of a chaotic world

Because journaling is an esoteric society - when I see someone with a journal I smile because they are "in" and my heart automatically warms toward them

Because journaling is therapeutic for my soul

Because journaling reveals my areas of failure and re-reading past journals reminds me to tread carefully

Because journaling synthesizes my life - my thoughts, my feelings, my prayers, my devotions, my favorite songs and verses all in the same place

Because journaling allows me to express the things I share with no one

Because journaling means lists of prayers and praises

Because journaling focuses my prayers

Because journaling is a private endeavor in the midst of a very public society (like Facebook)

Because journaling is so utterly different than homework (my grammar and spelling don't count, nor does my penmanship!)

Because journaling is a testimony of God's faithfulness and a reminder when I begin to doubt

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Set Apart Women (by Steve Gallagher)

"If it is true that you wish to follow in the footsteps of women like Amy Carmichael and Elizabeth Elliot, perhaps it would be good to ask yourselves what their lives looked like as they were preparing to go into their life’s work. What did Amy Carmichael’s life look like as a young girl before she went away to India? And what about Elizabeth Elliot? What was going on with her as a Wheaton student before she married Jim and left for the jungles of Ecuador?

Amy had an overriding passion to know God in a very real way. She was lit on fire at the Keswick Convention and would spend hours seeking God. She went down into the ghetto areas to minister to young girls. In other words, she didn’t just show up in India and suddenly become Amy Carmichael. She prepared herself.

The same was true of Elizabeth Elliot. She was already making the hard choices before she ever met Jim Elliot. She wasn’t looking for Prince Charming to come along and sweep her into some idyllic existence. She was well on her way to becoming the Elizabeth Elliot that we all admire so much. When he met her, he didn’t see a young woman who would have to be coaxed along and drug into sacrificial living. He saw someone who was already showing by her life’s choices that she meant business with God and for God.

One of the traps for young people is that their youthful idealism can be nothing more than romantic fantasizing about what it really means to be in ministry. But let me tell you something from much experience: Real ministry, the kind of ministry where souls are rescued from hell or where orphans are liberated from a life of misery, is hard. It is very hard.

I will use someone a little more close to home to further illustrate this truth: my wife Kathy. She had a dream job working as a manager in an insurance company. She was happy to support us as I went through Bible school and began Pure Life. But then the day came that the Lord asked us to leave our California comfort zone (i.e. families, friends, local supporters, etc.) to relocate to far, far away Kentucky. She didn’t flinch. For 18 months we had to live in a camping trailer and for several years she was the only female at a rehabilitation facility for sex addicts. And then there were the years of living in poverty: shopping in Goodwill stores (quite a drop from Macy’s), etc.

I think I can safely say that Amy Carmichael, Elizabeth Elliot, Gladys Aylward, Jackie Pullinger and a host of other young women were not merely romantics full of idealistic fantasy. They, like Kathy, were already living the “set-apart” life before they ever reached those far away shores.

Please understand that there is no magic wand that transforms you just because you say you want to live a set-apart life. You’re not going to magically become godly women ready to lay down your lives for those in need.

A life fully given to Christ in ministry is something you must prepare for.

Allow me to ask you a few pointed questions as I end this blog:

· You say you want to be like Amy Carmichael. How much of a priority is your devotional life?

· What do you think Elizabeth Elliot would think of the comments you post on your blog, Facebook, or Twitter?

· What would attract a Jim Elliot to your current lifestyle?

· Have you really counted the cost of going into God’s work?

There are some of you who have exhibited flashes of greatness, little glimmers of future Amy’s and Elizabeth’s. But let me encourage you not to stop short of choosing the same narrow path these women chose." -Steve Gallagher

Friday, January 15, 2010

Psalm 119:75

"I know, O LORD, that Your judgements are right and that in faithfulness You have afflicted me."

This verse has been my near constant reminder of God's goodness as I have been ill. I am reminded of the power of Scripture as even this simple verse endows so much Truth when my mind is "famished for Truth."

I praise Jesus that He is the Wise, Sovereign God and that my illness has in no way surprised Him. I thank Him for being the Good and Gentle Healer, who created my body and knows exactly what is happening. I thank Him for sustaining me each day even when I feel absolutely wretched. I offer thanksgiving for the Word and for the Church, which provide sweet encouragement. I praise Him for forgiving my sins and ask Him to search my heart and reveal to me where I am wrong. I beg that He teach me great lessons through this and that this pain not be wasted. I ask that He will use my life to bless, encourage, exhort and admonish others. I give back to Him my dreams and plans for the future, acknowledging that I have not been given the future - only today - and that tomorrow is His. Most of all, I thank Jesus that I have Heaven to look forward to! That my life on earth is not the end, rather the beginning of a new and glorious life with Jesus. Oh happy day!

p.s. I haven't been blogging much lately because of the additional strain it put on my wrists (trying to save typing for purely academic work). It might be a while before the next update.
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