Saturday, January 14, 2012

Life Not According To Me

I listened to a message last night online by Pastor Matthew Chandler. He was speaking here in Charlotte at Elevation Church's Code Orange Revival. It was my first time hearing him, but he has an Apostle Paul kinda preaching style. Does not mince words but still lets the love of God shine through.

Since God is for us finding complete joy in Him and giving Him the honor He is due, all the commands given by God in His Word are meant to lead us into greater life, greater joy, lining things up to work - not in OUR way, but in His way.  --Matthew Chandler

**Below is an excerpt from my soon-to-be published book, In Every Place. This was one of many times that God propelled me beyond myself when I certainly wanted MY way. God used a rented house painted gaudy pink that had no indoor kitchen setup, no indoor plumbing except the small rectangular bathroom which was beyond deplorable (in my Americanism). I had never lived in such a place in my first ten years of missions work. It was indeed a physically hard place to live with three girls, but God had a plan. Actually several, but this is the first one He revealed.

When Life Throws You Lemons, Find the Sugar 
(September 1995, Ivory Coast, West Africa)

      Though things were no where near as hard as they were in 1991 when we lived three months in the spiritually oppressed village of Pehe, it only took a few weeks before the difficult living conditions in the Pink House started to get to me. During the sultry tropical afternoons, there were hours when we sat outside under the shade of the thatch gazebo until the heat of the day seeped out of the house. Always having speculated why the Africans sat outside in the afternoons, I wondered no more. The houses with lots of concrete and no insulation held heat like a furnace. 

     When we had been living in Blolequin for three months, assuming by then that we would have been in our new home, we had to accept the fact that we weren't even close. Regardless, we pressed on with ministry, especially on the weekends, traveling to refugee villages 

and starting a Bible club in her small yard. The thatched gazebo in the middle of our yard was the perfect place for a backyard Bible school complete with coloring books, crayons, music, flashcard Bible stories, and puppets. One notable day we had fifty-five kids for our two-hour program and at the end of the program, nine kids believed in Christ as their Savior! It was wonderful to know that our own children were being used in a special way in this ministry, including our little five year old Lauren who had to stand on a chair in order to raise her puppet to the top of the curtain.

     During the three months that we lived at the Pink House and did Saturday Bible clubs, we saw a total of 26 kids come to Christ. Jeff and I both started thinking that perhaps it was because of the puppet outreach to the neighborhood kids that God kept us in the Pink House longer than we preferred. 

God was definitely doing something way beyond helping us live in the temporal discomforts of an intolerably hot house, living with no kitchen, bathing in a scummy bathroom, and drawing water from a well. Our physical inconveniences were indeed trifling as He reached down His redemptive Hand, using us despite our human frailties, drawing those needy children to Himself. Through the ministry to these precious African kids, we were able to reunite an orphan boy with family members in a nearby town and helped get another little boy out of an abusive situation at home. 

      Today, I cannot even remember the names of these precious young people who are now adults, but I can pray that they are continuing to follow Jesus and making a difference wherever they are. Yes indeed, it seemed that perhaps our extended time in the Pink House was for eternal purposes and not about my inconveniences AT ALL.

When life is not about me, I can live freer. Fuller. More effective for God's glory.