Tag Archives: surrender

Guatemala :: Because He Was and Is Enough

I have so much to share with you about my time in Guatemala … and the more I process, the more I want to share!

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I wanted so badly to express some of what the Lord did in and through this trip last week, but I ended up sick promptly upon my return home and just didn’t have it in me to do much more than work and then plant myself on the couch before crashing for the night and pushing through the next day. Forming coherent thoughts that captured the trip or the Lord’s hand at work with any sort of justice seemed near impossible.

My energy level has been slow to return, and I’m still processing, but I couldn’t let another day pass without entering into this space to say thank you. For praying, for encouraging, for supporting … both me and the team I was privileged to serve alongside.

But really, how do you begin to express or explain something that you can’t quite even label or name yet? I know the Lord did something, and is still DOING something, in and through this trip and this heart He’s given me for Guatemala. But putting that something into words?

Well, it’s challenging … almost as if it’s still partially veiled. As if I’m not even supposed to be able to put it into words just yet. As if there’s something still being formed.

And while my eyes have been opened to it and I’ve been given a front row seat to it, I’m still watching the first act. There’s still some ground to cover before the characters fully develop or the plot begins to make some sense.

But oh, I saw the Lord move on this trip. I never expected not to, but I also want to intentionally stop and take the time to say it, to praise Him for it, to acknowledge that those prayers I prayed, those requests that had been on my heart for weeks, if not months – that I asked you to pray along with me – He answered! Not necessarily how I would have expected. But He answered.

God is so faithful.

And He so graciously honored the step I took in obedience and faith to go.

Because that’s this God we serve!

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Before I left, I knew I needed to let go of the expectations I was bringing along, which in and of itself was hard since the last trip in February had been so powerful.

And this trip was certain to be different.

But I also knew that the door had been so obviously and creatively opened for me to go back that this trip needed to be all His.

For whatever reason, He wanted me there. And even though that reason was unknown to me, there was freedom in knowing that I could follow Him back to Guatemala, be fully present in each moment, and trust Him to do the rest.

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But honestly? That is still not my default. And that was not easy.

I didn’t want this trip to be about me, but at so many points, I found myself desperately seeking and searching for a reason, for an emotional connection, for an obvious and out-loud purpose for being back in this country that I have come to love so dearly.

As a result, the Lord and I had an ongoing conversation – a sort of internal wrestling and crying out on my part and truth-filled, yet gentle and loving replies on His – for the majority of this trip. I wanted a reason. I wanted to understand my place and my purpose. And I wanted to not react so negatively to the uncertainty around and within me.

I felt emotionally disconnected. The culture shock was gone this time, and as I walked around Antigua on the first day, everything seemed so familiar. Even the smell at the Guatemala City dump the next day didn’t overwhelm all of my senses in the same way as before.

guate4While part of that was okay, I didn’t expect to feel quite so detached. I watched as my team reacted to all of it as I had before, as I would have expected to react again. I watched the tears and the brokenness and the feelings of helplessness come over them, and I couldn’t help but think something was terribly wrong with me. How could I not react with the same level of emotion? How could I not feel more?

I didn’t want to come across as uncaring or lacking in compassion … because that’s not what was going on, either … but nothing was coming out in the way of obvious emotion or reaction and it could not be forced.

So I found myself getting quiet and still before the Lord. I found myself hanging around the edges of the group at times to process the lack of emotion and to continue this conversation with the only One who knew my heart and thoughts even better than I did. The only One who could really see and speak truth into what was going on inside of me.

And as we continued this conversation that literally lasted for days, as I talked and as I listened, I sensed the Lord saying,

“Am I not enough?”

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Even in the way I heard it, in the negative form, had to be Him. Because only He would know that’s what would best get my attention in that moment.

Because I wasn’t acting like He was enough. I was so focused on figuring out why I was there that I was missing the part about just being obedient in following and being with Him, in His presence, in Guatemala.

That’s all He ever asked. He never promised an obvious reason or that I would know another specific purpose … or that there would even BE another specific purpose.

And no matter what story (or straight up lies!) my emotions tried to tell, I could rest in that. Knowing that following Him to the place where He leads is always the right place.

Jesus was already in Guatemala.

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He didn’t need me this time any more than He needed me the first time, but He invited me to join Him there again. To join Him in doing the work, to be His hands and feet, to partner with ministries who had established and long-term relationships in their respective communities, to humbly enter into the lives of others – if only for a brief moment – to love and serve them well and to be fully present in each opportunity.

And in that place, I saw Jesus move in blue paint, in blowing bubbles, in big brown eyes that held your gaze, in smiles and much laughter, and in holding hands. I saw Jesus in small moments that somehow weren’t small at all.

Because He was and is enough.

And those are the stories I will be sharing with you here over the next few weeks.

Because those stories matter. Entering into the lives of others, even for the briefest of moments, makes a difference … to you AND to them. And the small moments that make up our everyday realities are never wasted when they are fully surrendered to Jesus.

{Day 8} Here and There

**this was originally posted on 05/10/12. while behind the scenes i was furiously working on the full application that preceded acceptance with the missions organization. and doubting that i was good enough for the task.**

“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me His own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

– Philippians 3:12-14 (ESV)

What makes me think if I can’t manage time and priorities here in relative comfort, stability and ease, that I can manage time and priorities there in the midst of potential discomfort and unknown?

What makes me think if I can’t reach outside of myself here to fully invest in others as I should, that I can fully invest there within a limited framework?

What makes me think if I can’t write here from my heart for me (much less for them), that I can write there so publicly?

What makes me think if I can’t find the balance and consistency in the Word here that is right, that I can be consistent there in new and unfamiliar surroundings?

Yet even as I continue to ask the questions, which all really boil down to just one question of my own ability, and begin to acknowledge the underlying fears, I already know the answer. It’s the same answer I received so powerfully and directly on that old hotel room floor in Ocean City six years ago.

I can’t. But HE can.

And as I hear that truth once again, as I not only hear it, but believe it, as it resonates deep within me, the Lord comes in gently and lovingly (though not painlessly) to once again strip me of my pride and self-sufficiency and independence. Because this relationship, this walking with Him, this following Him, was never intended to be that way.

None of this depends on me. It never did. This is not about me at all. It never was.

It’s about trusting in Him, leaning into Him, depending on Him. It’s about surrendering self and sacrificing independence. It’s about acknowledging His strength in my weakness, His sufficiency in my insufficiency, His righteousness in my unrighteousness.

Both my here and my there are His. For His purpose and for His glory.

A Front Row Seat

Sometimes this surrender thing – this following the Lord with everything – is scary.

It’s the best kind of scary because absolute surrender and dependence on Him is just plain right, but it’s still catch-your-breath, what-have-I-gotten-myself-into scary.

Yet it’s also simultaneously crazy exciting because it’s being given a front row seat to watching the Sovereign, Creator God work and purpose and move.

And then being asked to join Him.

So although at times it may be a little unknown and a lot uncomfortable, I wouldn’t have it any other way because it’s relationship and it’s faith practically expressed through moment-by-moment, everyday in His presence, trust in His direction and His way.

“Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will act.”

Psalm 37:5

The Back-up Plan

That’s what it is, right? A back-up plan.

The one that’s comforting and secure. Kinda.

The one that makes it a little easier to breathe today. Kinda.

But it’s all wrong.

Oh, the plan is good, and rational, and logical, and makes so much sense.

And yet it completely lacks trust in and dependence on HIM.

The One I read about almost every night in Psalms right now.

“I love you, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock in who I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”

– Psalm 18:1-2

My Rock, my Refuge, my Deliverer, my Help.

Yes, this back-up plan, the one born out of hurt and fear and urgency and unknown…

Is really just a lack of trust.

So I surrender {again} to His sovereign plan.

I take up my cross {again} and follow.

Knowing … trusting … that I’ve taken the next small step in obedience and I don’t have to know the rest.

Because He knows the rest … and He’s known it all along.

He alone holds my future, and He knows exactly where I’m headed.

Because He’s the One who established the steps to begin with.

“The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in His way.”

– Psalm 37:23

And whatever the outcome, whether close to the back-up plan or a world apart, I’ll be placed where He wants me … fully surrendered to Him, asking Him to work in and through me for His fame and for His glory.

His plan is better than my best back-up plan.

Every. Single. Time.

“He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure.”

– Psalm 40:2

For When I am Weak…

“…For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

– 2 Corinthians 12:10 (ESV)

I know I don’t usually post at all on Saturday mornings, much less a devo thought, but this message is so important and so freeing that I just didn’t want to sit on it. I desperately needed this reminder. Maybe you do, too. So before you launch into that mindless novel at the pool, or head to that summer cookout, or start on that yardwork, or begin that week of vacation, take a moment to pause, to reflect, and to rest at the feet of Jesus. He loves us so well.

After completing week three of the “Grace for the Good Girl” book club hosted by Emily Freeman on her blog, which basically wraps up the section describing the many masks we good girls tend to hide behind … such as the masks of strength and responsibility, of a good performance, and even of spiritual disciplines … the one theme that stood out above all else was this:

weakness.

If I’m being honest, I tend to think of weakness as a bad thing. Not so much if other people admit to weakness. It’s ok if someone else shares a flaw or a struggle or has a need for help or support. But me? Well, that crosses the proverbial line. After all, I am perfectly capable of handling my own problems, answering my own questions, talking myself into a better attitude, and dealing with my own mess.

“Hiding behind a mask of strength and responsibility is a lonely place to live. That mask portrays to the world around us that we have it all together, that we can handle the mess, that we don’t need people. Or worse, that we don’t need God.” – Emily Freeman (p. 85)

Yes, I often wear this mask of responsibility – the one that demands I must have it all together at. all. times. – quite well. Even worse, I wear it proudly as if it’s somehow a badge of honor … all the while failing to recognize the straight up pride in that very sentiment!

“The truth is, admitting weakness is the very doorway the Lord uses to lead the tired good girl to a place of rest.” – Emily Freeman (p. 85)

I know that statement is true. The Lord does use weakness to lead us to rest in Him. I have even acknowledged weakness here before and spoken of the necessary choice to return to Him in complete surrender. A choice that must be made over and over again. Because this walk with the Lord, it’s everyday, it’s every moment.

Yet as the discussion in a subsequent chapter shifted to the parable of the prodigal son, as I continued to consider this good girl tendency of hiding behind strength and responsibility, I couldn’t help but think about the burden of guilt that I so often carry around as of late. Guilt because of missed deadlines (however soft those deadlines may be…), guilt because I haven’t done enough or been enough, guilt because the facade of having it all together fades, guilt because I have a need. It’s been a struggle, it’s been a weakness.

But then in the middle of the chapter, I came to this quote by Brennan Manning from his book “Reflections for Ragamuffins”:

“There is more power in sharing our weaknesses than our strengths. The forgiveness of God is gratuitous and unconditional liberation from the domination of guilt. The sinful and repentant prodigal son experienced an intimacy and joy with his Father in his brokenness that his sinless self-righteous brother would never know.” (p. 103)

brokenness.

And all of a sudden that weakness is wrapped in brokenness, and in that brokenness, there is hope. Because Jesus wants that brokenness. And in exchange, He offers to lift the burden, the weakness, and replace it with intimacy and joy.

“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;

a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”

– Psalm 51:17 (ESV)

Yes, this guilt … sometimes legitimate, sometimes false … leaves me broken and weak. But when I stop there, when I allow that guilt to rule instead of taking it to Jesus Christ and laying it at His feet in humble abandon, I miss out on the acceptance and peace and rest that He has already so freely offered.

“The beautiful redemptive truth is, I am free to identify with the Father, the one who offered unconditional love and acceptance to both sons. I don’t have to figure out the mess. I do have to trust in the One who can.” – Emily Freeman (p. 106)

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“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

– 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (ESV)

Here and There

note: while i did have a specific “here” and “there” in mind when i penned this, in some ways, we all have a “here” and “there”. it may be a physical location, a goal, a hope, a dream, or just a what if. but regardless of the what, i would encourage you to to think of your own “here” and “there” as you read. and then rest in the truth of His promises.

What makes me think if I can’t manage time and priorities here in relative comfort, stability and ease, that I can manage time and priorities there in the midst of potential discomfort and unknown?

What makes me think if I can’t reach outside of myself here to fully invest in others as I should, that I can fully invest there within a limited framework?

What makes me think if I can’t write here from my heart for me (much less for them), that I can write there so publicly?

What makes me think if I can’t find the balance and consistency in the Word here that is right, that I can be consistent there in new and unfamiliar surroundings?

Yet even as I continue to ask the questions, which all really boil down to just one question of my own ability, and begin to acknowledge the underlying fears, I already know the answer. It’s the same answer I received so powerfully and directly on that old hotel room floor in Ocean City six years ago.

I can’t. But HE can.

And as I hear that truth once again, as I not only hear it, but believe it, as it resonates deep within me, the Lord comes in gently and lovingly (though not painlessly) to once again strip me of my pride and self-sufficiency and independence. Because this relationship, this walking with Him, this following Him, was never intended to be that way.

None of this depends on me. It never did. This is not about me at all. It never was.

It’s about trusting in Him, leaning into Him, depending on Him. It’s about surrendering self and sacrificing independence. It’s about acknowledging His strength in my weakness, His sufficiency in my insufficiency, His righteousness in my unrighteousness.

Both my here and my there are His. For His purpose and for His glory.

“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me His own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 3:12-14 (ESV)

How Do You Choose?

There’s not enough positive self-talk in the world to cover this feeling.

Mistakes leave me crippled. Uncertainties leave me paralyzed. Inadequacies leave me empty and ashamed.

I am a failure. I am a hypocrite. I am broken beyond repair.

I have lost this battle.

Yet in a three-day period in which opening The Word seems an impossibility, the Lord is gracious enough to speak truth through music with Biblically grounded and theologically sound lyrics.

“I come broken to be mended, I come wounded to be healed, I come desperate to be rescued, I come empty to be filled. I come guilty to be pardoned by the blood of Christ the Lamb, and I’m welcomed with open arms, praise God, just as I am.” – Just As I Am by Travis Cottrell

And so I choose.

“I lift my hands to believe again. You are my refuge, You are my strength. As I pour out my heart these things I remember. You are faithful God forever. Let faith arise.” – I Lift My Hands by Chris Tomlin

I choose the Faithful One through the failure. I choose surrender through the weakness. I choose faith through the unknown.

I am a worshiper and I am a witness.

I choose Him.

Because He chose me first. Because He is all I have. Because He is.

“Oh, Father, use my ransomed life in any way You choose. And let my song forever be my only boast is You. Hallelujah! All I have is Christ. Hallelujah! Jesus is my life.” – All I Have is Christ by Sovereign Grace Music

How do you choose?

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