How often do we just go through the motions of life, not even realizing that a day has come and gone, only to find ourselves staring at the same face in the mirror we’ve stared at countless times and now we’re unable to recognize it? God has been teaching me so many things about myself while being in Uganda, so many good things and so many difficult things. Things that are hard to digest and swallow. Things that keep me up in the middle of the night wondering what on earth am I doing here? Things that make me question his goodness and sovereignty. As I have gone back and forth in conversation with God about these doubts in my heart I have found that the root is desire. There are things that I desire that are limited by my being out here. I sit here and I am frustrated and hurt by the things God has asked me to sacrifice, desires I have to put on hold because of the calling he has placed on my life. I love this place, I love these people but outside of them I have desires of my own, personal intimate desires that I have shared with God and God alone and recently, it feels like he has been holding out on me.
Just this last week I listened to a sermon by Judah Smith titled, “Look, lift up your eyes” and it talked about Gods will and something he said really stuck with me. He said three things about the will of the Lord and his plan for our lives:
1. “God’s plan is not far off, it’s right in front of you.” We like this idea of God’s will being far off, because that is how we view God, some far off in the distance kind of God but the truth is he is here, his kingdom is at hand. This far off idea is appealing because sometimes what’s in front of us isn’t that appealing, and its not what we want, but guess what, just cause you don’t like it doesn’t mean that its not Gods will for you. Often we place ourselves in a position of believing that we know better than God. And because he is patient, he lets us believe this until we come around and realize he is the only way, the truth and the life. Learning to submit to the will of the Lord is the hardest thing I have ever had to do. The hardest. In fact I am still learning what that truly means. Sacrificing my desires for the kingdom is painful, but the fruit of the labor is sweet. The truth is, God’s plan for your life fills you up, you are filled and you are strengthened, it’s just the process of getting there that is draining. Once you get there, it’s worth it.
2. “Results may vary.” Now in many sermons I have heard this explained as some of us plant seeds, some of us water them, and some of us see the fruits of that labor. We love instant gratification, and we love seeing the results of our toil, but what if that is not a part of God’s plan for our lives? Ouch. You mean I have to sacrifice things that I want, for you God and then I don’t get to reap the benefits? What kind of a deal is that? Now, this is not the case for everyone but it is for some and it is a hard pill to swallow. For me to digest this when it is given to me, I have to remind myself daily that God is a promise keeper and he is good. The results of my life are up to him and he truly does know and understand the desires of my heart, and the next bit is up to me to have faith in him and to trust him to fulfill them. A relationship with God is give and take; we learn to love each other through sacrifices we make for each other. He made this biggest sacrifice of all, displaying his love for us by sending his son to die on a cross for our sins….meanwhile he just asks me to sacrifice things that I want (temporarily) so that he can show me a new life, with new desires that align with desires he has for me. Whew, that’s amazing! He hears my prayers and he will answer them even if the result doesn’t include me. As Judah said in his sermon, “prayers never die” and for me that is extremely encouraging.
3. “The nature of God’s will invites us into places and spaces we have written off or otherwise avoided.” When we become more intimate with Christ, he exposes us. Every lie we have every told, ever act that we have ever done that has brought shame into our lives and every dark place of our heart that Satan has corrupted with his lies and deceit. To be exposed like that is raw and uncomfortable. Our true selves are out on display for the world to see and if we aren’t ready for that kind of vulnerability we run. We push away our brothers and sisters who want to walk along side us in that journey and we hide. The problem with that fear is that it does not include God and it is not a part of his will for our lives. For perfect love casts out fear. Adam and Eve are the prime example of this shame because as soon as they heard the voice of the Father they ran and hid in their shame. As we are called to be followers of Christ and we accept that love into our lives we boast about that good things he has done for us! Our fear is replaced by hope and life! The grace and truth of living and walking with Christ, in the will of the Lord allows us to be fully known and fully loved for who we are despite everything we have done. That’s why stepping into the will of the Lord is so terrifying and why we tend to over look it. Christ knows everything about us, and I mean everything and he loves us. I know that I do not always fully understand the will of the Lord but what I do know is that he will not abandon me and in those moments when my heart is broken and my spirit is downcast within me, he meets me there and I am able to exhale and relax in the comfort of the arms of the father.
Currently I am in a season of exposing and healing. In the last couple of weeks I have felt myself shut down and become closed off. I often and not present here, I am in some far off place. My heart is truly experiencing a heaviness that is a huge weight to bear. Being in Uganda I have to hide that emotion because I am a missionary and I love Jesus but there are times when I feel as though I have nothing left to give and I hardly recognize the woman staring back at me in the mirror. I begin to doubt and question God but then I remember Mark 14:36 “Yet not what I will but what you will.” I have experienced the joy and peace of walking in the Lord’s will and I desire to be in that place again. I also know that for me to be in that place it is going to require sacrifice. I think that the biggest problem is that I don’t fully trust Gods intentions for my life because I am afraid to let it all go, to fully let him have control of the desires of my heart. Again that kind of vulnerability and rawness is terrifying, but the results of that labor is sweet. I may never truly see the fruits of the sacrifices I make for Christ but shouldn’t it be enough to know that what we are doing here in Uganda is serving a purpose and if not for ourselves, for future generations to come? I am praying for these people here because I love them and I want to see the kingdom manifested on earth as it is in heaven. Though my heart is weak, Christ is strong and it is in that weakness where he can do his best work because I know how much I need him. Honestly, all that is required of me is to be present with him and to fully believe he loves me.