Right now we're experiencing a 2-week Easter Holiday, so while it's next week that my personal holiday from SM life begins, this week has been incredibly light, praise God. This Sabbath is the Messy Church (Easter Theme) that I volunteered to coordinate, but with the help of more experienced women, it hasn't been as scary as I thought it would be.
I don't have all the pieces put together yet, and there's so much that my godless perfectionism could pick a fight with about life, but I feel God leading me out of my black hole and it makes me SO HAPPY. This isn't a pendulum swing, but like a springtime walk. Slow but beautiful and ... not too slow, for the record. This morning I read a quote from Oswald Chambers I thought was wonderful:
"'Ye shall receive the power of the Holy Ghost' - not power as a gift from the Holy Ghost; the power IS the Holy Ghost, not something which He imparts." (My Utmost For His Highest, April 12)
I've learned these last 2 years more than ever how risky it is to hand me a "full cup" as Ellen White calls it. I'm glad that God doesn't just hand us power in all its potency - that He never leaves us and never ceases to be our tenderly teaching & loving Abba.
You know something else that's nice? Like really nice?
The English spring is blooming here at Stanborough. The trees are getting leafy and some of them have white & pink blossoms. We also have lots more sunshine than we've ever had. The weather isn't consistently warm yet, but it all produces the lovely heartache that we love about spring after so much winter... There's a calm smile inside of me these days. And it's there most of the time. Like God's giving me a gift and patiently teaching me how to take care of this gift, since what I'm best at is pendulum swings - oh the glorious highs and the dastardly falls... But this is different.
Francesca Battistelli - awesome Christian artist - sings this song called "Worth It" and it's about love.
There's a line of it that goes like this:
"Love can steal your pride
But love won't let you hide
It takes everything you've got
Love's not easy
But it's worth it."
It's bondage to cling to pride. Sometimes you have far more peace in the risk of trust & vulnerability than you ever EVER will in hiding & licking your wounds in silence. Humility after so much pride & "toughness" is initially uncomfortable, but afterwards it feels so nice to just let go and let God's correcting love come in. He also comforts and counsels...
Here's the link for the whole song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AunpKZ0vIdk
I thought I'd share this poem I wrote almost a year ago. It was a gift to newlyweds, but there's so much in it that isn't exclusive to marriage that I'm taking the suggestion of a friend and posting it here on my SM blog. I hope you're blessed by it. It's inspired - I could never have written it on my own with my cloudy brain by itself... I think that if you ask God to help you re-interpret parts of it, it fits being a student missionary - it fits BEING A CHRISTIAN - like a glove...
To marry is to meet, mesh and meld together
Two separate beings becoming a new one
To marry is to embark on the best and worst of times
The worst for the work and war of loving each other uphill
The best for the blessing of your beloved being finally, completely yours.
We live in a world at war against love
But we are a people made in Love’s image
We were made for the mission of loving:
God first, His people next…
For the greatest commandment, and the second one like it,
Were molded to make the Great Commission:
Showing Jesus to others:
For to know Jesus is to love Him
And to love the Lord Our God
Is to be turned over and over
Back to your beloved
With a heart made new to love another day.
Love is not a feeling
But it is something you can feel
Love is a choice; God’s very character to cultivate
It’s a choice you’ll often have to make
Despite the road your sense would have you take.
There’s a surplus of the world’s view on love
So, here is the eternal supply of God’s Truth on love:
Patience over haste
Kindness over callous
Being sincere and hating evil
Clinging to good and keep up your spiritual zeal
Sharing with the needy
Rejoicing with who is joyful
Mourning with who is mourning
Living at peace with – not in power over – others
As far as it depends on you.
Perseverance in the opportunity of opposition
Because failure isn’t the falling
It’s the choice to not return.
Don’t take revenge; vengeance is God’s
He will repay the measure of abuse
Do not ever pass it on.
Forgive and keep no record of wrongs
But better to climb to life
Rather than to slide to death…
Don’t delight in evil – not even at a distance.
Always protect each other
Always choose to trust each other
Always hope against hell’s say
If you do all of these things,
You cannot lose, for love never fails
And this great summation
Is what it means to love.
God Himself loves you both like this
And His love is everlasting, captivating…
His love is who He is.
It is safe in His arms,
So trust in the LORD
Don’t lean on your own understanding
But forever consult the One
With your whole horizon encompassed in His gaze.
If in doubt, wait on Him.
If in pain, be still and know both that and who He IS.
If you put God at the center of your union
As your cornerstone and lodestar
The closer you grow to God
The closer you’ll grow into each other.
The more white space you give Him
The more of His image can be painted
The more of Your love story He can write
It’s His love abounding from you both…
Binding you together.
Saying “I do” was just the beginning
Your courtship was the easy prologue
For marriage is fabulously hard.
The real adventure has just begun!
And now Christ is sitting in Your married hearts
Waiting for choices to paint his portrait
With the colors of the fruit of His Spirit.
More white space means more story
And more story means more opportunity
To receive and redistribute His gifts
For a good thing kept covered inside
Soon becomes rank and bitter
So receive God’s love
And keep giving it to one another
Then share it to others to return it to God
For whatever you do to the least of these
God counts it as done unto Jesus.
The more you practice love
The more loving you will become
The more like Jesus as you keep becoming one
God’s glorious, beautiful genius be praised!
For the more like Jesus you become
The more you resemble who He made you to be
You become who you really are…
Never alone, but together!
For the blessing of God on your marriage
Remember and revisit the Beatitudes
For the sermon Jesus preached on a mountain
Is the map for the steps of your journey in marriage.
Blessed are the poor in spirit
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
The poor in spirit know their lack
They are unashamed to ask and to beckon.
By maintaining this mutually sweet spirit of poverty
You’ll always both beckon and be there for each other.
Remember that the kingdom of heaven
Was once compared to a mustard seed:
Though starting small, it grows up huge
And provides shade against a future scorch.
Being poor in spirit is key to the others.
Being poor means you will mourn at times
But you are blessed by the promise of comfort.
Being poor means you must be meek
For you’ve nothing of your own to boast about
All good things come from the Father above
But you are blessed that your poverty is the vacancy
Into which you’ll inherit the earth.
Being poor in spirit means you hunger and thirst
But you are blessed by the promise of sustenance.
Being poor means you won’t hoard mercy, hence your poverty
It was heralded and returned back to Jesus
So you are blessed by mercy continuously cycled back to you.
Being poor makes you pure in heart, not puffed up or packed tight.
There’s no clutter keeping the eyes of your heart
From the blessing of seeing who God IS.
Being poor makes you a peacemaker, not a power-seeker.
You have no possessions to want power to protect,
For your treasures are stored in heaven.
Making peace takes steps to Christ;
You are blessed and known as God’s own.
Being poor means you’ll be persecuted
For the righteousness God gifted you.
Persecuted because you chose to not grab power
Through earth’s gritty riches.
Being poor makes you easy to persecute:
You have no high walls against ridicule from the world
But you are blessed, for being poor in spirit
Is the fruit of belief in God,
Which makes perishing impossible!
Instead, the kingdom of heaven – eternal life –
Knowing the heart of God is yours!
Outwardly you will age, wrinkle, and waste away
But inwardly you can be renewed day by day
In being poor in spirit, you will fix your eyes
On the unseen eternal, rather than the tactile temporal
And therefore you will not lose heart.
You just have to choose
Over and over.
And by doing this together,
So much the better!
You may be in love in a world at war
And the blows against you will likely be unfair
But with God, you freely have the LOVE
The one thing that is never stagnant, but ever steadfast
The one thing that makes all things new:
The one thing unlike all else…
The only thing that never fails.
May God bless you both
As you build a home and haven
Of faith, hope, and love,
While remembering: the greatest of these is love.