28.7.12

The End of an Era

 I fly to Manila today. America tomorrow.  I am feeling so much better and I know I have done a considerable amount of healing since the other night.  The pain is definitely less and I am so very thankful. Mostly, I would appreciate prayers over the traveling. I will not lie, I am a little nervous about it BUT with friends like you, praying for me I find comfort.


    Life is full of chapters; pieces of stories sometimes oddly puzzled together to make up your life. This chapter. My Filipino Era is coming to an end. It is sort of funny to think about life before the islands- in some ways my almost two years has felt long. But at other times I can see it for what it is a short chapter, a piece of a puzzle, a moment of life.
   I suppose that in all aspects of life it is important to recognize victories, losses, and lessons learned- so here is my list. My review. My lessons learned from this blip in eternity. I am not sure yet if they should encourage or challenge you, but then maybe that it between you and God and none of my business. So, instead, thanks for reading, for your prayers, and your encouragement…


You cannot compare situations. No matter how much you want too. It does not matter that so & so’s living arrangement is nicer. That their house is actually a house. That their toilet actually flushes. That water…hot water, mind you flows strongly from your friend’s shower faucet. We are not called to count the actual cost of our sufferings for His name. Or to compare battle wounds for His name’s glory. We are to take up the cross –while remaining fully focused on Christ- and follow Him. We are expected to die to self daily -to live as He died willing to discomfort ourselves for the sake of having another brother or sister in Christ. When we begin to compare situations we lose our focus and find ourselves in the overwhelming crashing waves of self love. God is not asking us to love ourselves, He has commanded us to love others.


One man’s normal is another man’s “That is just NOT normal.” We are not the final judgment call- we do not get to decide what is normal. I did not come to the Philippines to westernize the islands. I did not come here to teach time efficiency.  Or even the proper pronunciation of the many borrowed English words. I did not come here to create a new normal for myself. I came out of desperate obedience, out of grateful love, and out of holy fear of the One and Only True God.
How often we lose sight of the WHY, while getting caught up in our own comfort. Christ died. He became nothing, being made in human form. He became obedient unto death. To give life. To offer forgiveness. That message of reconciliation is THE WHY. We carry a message of death bringing life and we have the gall to get irritated with their way of life? To claim they are not normal? Just saying, maybe…sometimes, we should take a moment and hear how crazy we sound and then move humbly forward while being carried along by the Holy Spirit. (And not our own judgment.)


Yes, sometimes is a very loud, NO! While here, I have learned to listen. At least, I think I have. Americans tend to not have to listen too hard to eachother, and why should we? We speak directly. We say what we mean. We say it loudly. Here though, you offer something to someone three times. Are you sure? Are you sure? Are you SURE? Redundant yes, but that third offering does two things. It communicates that whatever is being given is freely given, and oddly enough it makes the gift acceptable without (at least usually, as far as I can tell) a grudge.
Agreement can be a disagreement. Friends do not want to rock the boat. Peace is more important that fact. Yes, can mean agreement, but it can just as easily be a polite rejection. I have never thought of myself as a bad listener (except for when I don’t want to be a good one) but the Philippines has made me (out of self defense) learn to watch body language, listen to the tone of voice, and ask the right follow up questions (in the right general sort of vague way).
Figuring out when a yes means a no, is not always an easy task. Sometimes it means being stood up. A disappointment. The feeling of being lied too. The frustration of having prepared something for nothing. I suppose, in truth I learned to listen for what people are trying to voice- what they are not knowing how to say. (And that does not just apply to cross cultural relations.) I hope that I can carry this home with me and hear the silent cries of even the most direct to the point good ole Americans.


Poverty is sad. Hell is worse. I am sorry, does that seem crass? And trust me, I am all for taking care of the widows and orphans. If I could feed every hungry child, if I could wipe starvation from the face of the earth I would be glad too.
Poverty (not a first world’s definition but true gut wrenching hungry poverty) is unfortunately here to stay. All we can really decide is what we choose to do with it.
It can be a distraction or a catalyst. We can busy ourselves with feeding the physical bellies of sad faced children and content ourselves with a good deed well done. Or it can compel us. It can drive us. It can be our window into the pain and torture of a life without Christ. It can be a tool in our hand (BUT NOT OUR GOAL) to sharing the Gospel. There is a very real difference between a belly full of carbs and proteins and soul satisfied with the Word of God.
I refuse to give my money to any good will agency that does not bring the Good News to the lives it improves, feeds and shelters. (Give here: BGR with full confidence that the physical and spiritual are being taken care of.)Yes, poverty is ugly but trust me hell is worse; and what a mean thing to do to a child to fill their belly and leave their soul hungry for God.


A New Longing. Two very dear people left this weary world while I have been here; and somehow through that heaven moved closer. I moved out of my apartment 4 months before my flight home, and wondered around the country visiting teams and feeling bit homeless. (Even though I have a brand spanking, built just for me, and freshly and brightly painted waiting for me to fill it up with my earthly wants and finds.) During this time, it seemed every time my Bible even accidentally opened it was God talking to me about longing. This world not being my home has taken on a new meaning- the fact that Jesus (as demonstrated to me by my James) loves me enough ‘to go and prepare a place’ for me- that is a love that is meant to be enjoyed. As I (continue to) learn to long for heaven I also learn to abide in Him,  (1 John 2:28) to find comfort in His company, and am beginning to understand the true depth of what it means to be called a child of God. (1John 3:1) This life was not meant to be lived for today, but to be lived rejoicing in the one who gave today (and for the eternity of tomorrows given to His heirs).


Oh, but a worm am I. One lesson in particularly hard to swallow is what a terrible rotten horrible sinner I am. Society teaches us that all mankind is redeemable by their own merit. That depending on the circumstance bad can be a little bit good. And that right is not a solid but a liquid, moving, bending, and curving differently for each person.
I am no better than anyone else. Okay, that might not shock you, but ashamedly I acknowledge that sometimes it does surprise me… a little.
Good and right are not liquid. They do not bend. As much as our society wants to justify behaviors in direct contrast to the Bible the truth remains...wrong is wrong no matter the extenuating circumstances. God is not fluid in His judgement. He does not play favorites. He saves those who call on His name, no matter how wormy (terrible rotten no good sinners) they are. Part of being a responsible Christian is living redeemed fully acknowledging and accepting your own sinfulness and turning away from your old self to the new creation God has made.


When missions does not cost you anything, missions does not exist. It would be nice if we could cling to materialism and live holy at the same time. It would be super if being like Jesus meant living a comfortable and  peaceful life with no worries or sacrifice. Last summer I lived for three weeks without a toilet, it was humbling. Jesus act of being made into nothing- finding himself in human form and THEN being obedient unto death- even death on the cross is the illustration…the expectation of how we should then live. No, not just the missionaries. Not just the pastors’ families.
ALL those who profess Christ as their Savior- so I ask you- what uncomfortable thing have you done today to bring glory to God’s name? What humiliating act of service did you obey Him in doing so that someone might hear the Gospel? I am not telling you that we might sacrifice, I am telling you that we will. If we hide in the luxuries of this world we are no better than the Rich Young Ruler who turned down the opportunity to be Christ’s friend in the flesh. When we find ourselves to lazy to obey, we are like the sleeping disciples in the garden disappointing Jesus.

And if you read all that, you get ten points, a gold star, and a pat on the back.

Thanks as always!



2 comments:

  1. Anonymous16:07

    love me some Lizzie!!

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  2. This is a really encouraging post Lizzie! I don't know you, but we have a great friend-in-common in Naomi. It looks like we also have a similar story-in-common while being overseas. I was in a bad accident in the DR Congo almost 2 years ago, and this post takes me right back to the thoughts that were running through my heart before leaving a year ago. God bless you on your travels back to America! And thanks for this post :)

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