Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Grace Through it All

Its been a year of coming to the end of myself again, and again. Just when I think I've reached the very end of me... God takes me farther. A year ago in October I felt the Lord asking me to go to Asia and work in an orphanage with special needs children for about 2 weeks. I had spent the year prior to that call praying for orphans in China by name, sponsoring them and sending gifts. I grieved as some of them died from complications of their special needs, and I laughed and rejoiced when things went well, like liver transplants in tiny babies' bodies. My heart was broken for these children and when the opportunity came to serve them with my own hands, I was excited and ready. I cried out to God, I will go Lord! Send me.

I think that's about when everything started.
My family was so decidedly against my serving in Asia that they assaulted me publicly on social media. They called me horrible names and accused me of terrible untruths. My husband was made out to be an idiot for "allowing" me to go. I can't articulate the intense pain I felt by being hurt and abandoned by my family. I wept, sobbed, vomited, from all the hurtful words, from the pain of hearing that my serving orphans meant I didn't love my own children.

In this time my husband and I felt God speak again, honestly it was my husband more than me. He felt that God actually wanted me to bow out of my commitment to serve in Asia. Devastated. I was devastated. I had only been part of the Asia team for a month but I'd sent support letters, announced it, & more than that, God had worked on my heart. Even as I was in so much pain from my family's reaction, God was molding me. Asking me how far I was willing to go for Him, and cultivating a desire to be a servant, not only to orphans to those who serve the orphans themselves. More body wracking tears. More questions. But then... peace. I completely trust my husband, he wasn't influenced by family, or fear, he just felt God say I need you to change plans. So that's what we did.

Several weeks after deciding not to go to Asia we told our families. About a week after that we were approached by a friend asking if we were interested in hosting a chaperon through a Christmas orphan hosting program. We both felt clearly that this is what were supposed to do. If I had still planned to serve in an orphanage just a month after Christmas we would have said no to this offer.

Presented with a list of names and ages we chose a woman a few years younger than us to stay in our home over the holidays. I can tell you beyond a shadow of a doubt that THIS was what God was working my heart towards. The beautiful and lovely woman we hosted, whom I now call friend, was herself an orphan. Her past influenced her to work in the orphanage in Latvia to help others.

I learned that God did want me to be His hands and feet, He was calling me to be a servant, to orphans and to one who serves orphans! I don't understand all of God, but He asked me if I was willing, I said yes. Obeying God means continuing to say yes when plans change. His way is so much higher than mine. The chaperon hosting opened up doors for us to love other orphaned children. This summer we hosted both the chaperon and an orphan girl who needed re-homed. Oh, we loved on her, and even if my impact seemed insignificant, I know that my prayers are not.

After the Christmas holidays I worked toward forgiving my family. That winter I went months without anyone from our church reaching out to us and those whom I reached out to didn't reach back. The baby girl my heart wanted so badly to be my own was adopted. My husband worked long hours away from me and the kids. The stress of his job, the sadness of loss, the aloneness I felt was overpowering. I am not typically given to weeping, but there were days and nights of crying. Again, I was brought to the very end of myself. With few local friends, a husband who had to work too much, and family relations that were still strained, I pressed into Jesus.

My days were spent worshiping. Crying out to God to meet me, and sustain me. My children often found me in the kitchen kneeling, just praying. Jesus was the only person available to me. The truth is, while I wept, and sang, and prayed, my relationship with Jesus changed. It became more and more fulfilling. My heart and spirit more dependent on Him than ever before. The hurts of the world, of the church, of family, they were real, and the Lord held me as a I worked through them. I have learned that to pray in the Spirit isn't just praying in tongues, but speaking to God from the depths of your soul, with tears, groaning, declarations of His worth and goodness, a simple song, and sometimes its laying face down by the kitchen sink asking Him to fill you with more of Himself. It's been a time of breakthrough. Through sadness I have experienced more of God's joy, and my relationship with my husband is richer and deeper. We are truly enjoying being heirs to the grace of life together, through tough times and easy ones.

Again, I feel that Jesus has me by the hand asking me to step out of the boat and into the water with Him. I feel Him speak to me, "This seems insane, trust me. You're scared. Trust me." Frankly, I feel like telling Jesus I would very much like to sit back on a cruise ship and leave the water walking to others. But I know with Him is safety. I know with Him is fullness of joy. I know with Him is what is best for me. And I just, I do love Him so much.

So my prayer is, "Lord, I believe, help my unbelief."

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