Friday, November 14, 2008

Conversations With God

Here is the blog entry I started yesterday, when rain paused but the trees shone: All the world is gold...and red, and green. The trees here...

That's as far as I got, but you can see that I was seeing the world as beautiful. And that gave me hope. That was nice.

Today, I ran across this website via a couple of friends' communications: http://alirae.net/blog/

I haven't read much, but this woman is a pediatric nurse on a mercy ship, currently off the shore of Liberia. And here is what sent me into a self-indulgent stew of sorrow: "I spend my days in a delightful whirl of crying babies, cast-footed kids, and even the occasional grownup. I've never been so happy....(Please let me stay forever.)"

That's when I realized that questions that I thought I had answered weren't so fully answered, and that the peace that I so often feel is more tentative than solid. Many of you know that I spent the vast majority of my life planning for and moving toward cross-cultural ministry, from about age 7 to about age 31. I'm no math major, but that's a lot of time.

But after a brief stint overseas, and achieving the necessary master's degree, it all came to a screeching halt. God said, "Wait."

Okay, I can wait...a few months. A year. Or, apparently, more.

Then God said, "Wait on ME."

Okay, that one is harder. It's not just the hunkering-down, holding-on-for-dear-life kind of waiting. In fact, it's not holding on at all. It's a release, an utter, willing submission of yourself to the hand of God. Harder, but I learned.

Then, I asked God, "When?"

But God just said again, "Wait."

So I waited. I tried to make myself useful during this 'intermission.' I delved deeply into ministry. I learned how to disciple. I saw life from the 'professional ministry' side. I worked with a church plant. And every so often, I would ask again, "When?" "God you know my heart is already in Central Asia. They don't know you there..."

"Wait."

I learned how to manage serious physical pain. I learned that God can heal what doctors declare you will live with forever. I learned how to seek His face...and that when you do, He meets you there in ways words cannot define. Amazing lessons...but in many ways, I still felt that I was just treading water, waiting to go.

Finally, years in, I asked, "Am I going? Please tell me where to point my nose."

And God said, "You are not being sent to a people of obscure speech and difficult language...not to many peoples of obscure speech and difficult language, whose words you cannot understand. Surely if I had sent you to them, they would have listened to you."*

And I cried. I cried for two years.

How can I not go? Is there a greater calling?

Then God spoke quiet truths into my heart:
"I don't need you to accomplish great things for Me, J. I AM great, and I will accomplish all that I desire."
"Cross-cultural ministry is not the greatest thing you can do. Knowing Me is."
"Put roots down, J. You've never learned how to be where I've put you."
"Pursue Me. Seek My face."

"I love you. Unconditional, all-encompassing love. Let that sink into the deepest parts of you."
"While you've been banging on the doors of heaven, asking Me to change your circumstances, I've been changing you. This is the greater part."
...
And so many other truths and promises.

Finally, my heart came to a place of peace, and I found this was my prayer: You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.**

But today, I found myself questioning anew, "Is this really it, Lord? I don't intend this as a complaint, but my heart still yearns for...something. For some things. And sometimes, I feel sad that I'm not there, doing that, serving in that way. What do I do with that?"

What I'm doing now is choosing to remember this: The LORD is my light and my salvation... The LORD is the stronghold of my life.***

I am remembering that this is what I've asked of God, and that it is the greater part: One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.***

And so I end with the same lesson with which I started: Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.***

So Lord, I'm waiting...on You. But this time I know that You know where I am, that You will fulfill your plan for me, that You love me in ways I will spend all of eternity trying to absorb, that Your face is worth seeking--it is so beautiful.

O Lord, Hineni.****

-J

The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your love, O LORD, endures forever—do not abandon the works of your hands. --Psalm 138:8

*Ezekiel 3:5-6, NIV
**Psalm 16:11, NIV
***From Psalm 27, NIV
****This Hebrew term basically means, "Here I am." More on this soon.

P.S. For more of my thoughts on the waiting/longing process, you can review this post.

(c) 2008

4 comments:

Beth said...

What a neat post, J. really, some deep stuff there, "learning to just BE where he puts us"... what a lesson. what a lesson.

Allison said...

I haven't been here for awhile, J. I'm sorry. Been a little like a turtle . . .

Thanks for this post. I really needed it, and it ministered to me today.

ShalomSeeker said...

Al - Welcome back. We all need to 'turtle' sometimes. :-) And thanks for posting your comment. Today especially, I needed to know that these thoughts mattered to someone, that they made sense.

Beth & Al and all who comment: Thanks for sharing. You are more of an encouragement than you know. And for you lurkers: You're still welcome here. :-)
-J

Rachel said...

You look so skinny in your picture. Wow!

I have not been here for a while and you have been a chatty Cathy. I am glad that you have been here more. I will be checking in more often now.

Have a great day!! Thank you for sharing this.

You do great things for God everyday. Talk to my kids when they are way off. Talk to me when I am way off. ....