Monday, January 25, 2010 burden is light...

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." ~ Jesus (Matthew 11:28-30)

This verse has been coming up a lot for me lately. I guess I really need to hear it. I've been feeling very burdened lately, but God has been reminding me that I don't need to.

Last week when I went to the refugee family's home, I asked the mother about food stamps. She told me she's getting them again and then she took me by the hand and led me to her pantry and then to her refrigerator, showing me the food that she has. I guess she could see how worried I was and wanted to reassure me. She has enough. God provides her with her daily bread.
Then there was the rainbow. In the middle of my "English lesson" with her, the sun was shining through the window in such a way as to project a rainbow onto the wall. It was a beautiful moment as all of us - myself, my teammates, the mother and her children - all stopped what we were doing to look at the colors. God's promise. God's presence. God is so good.

So we do what we can, and remember that we're only human. God is great, and compassionate, and loving, and almighty.

He's got things covered. ;)

Monday, January 18, 2010

...on realising i can't be God...

Every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon myself and one or two of my teammates go to the home of a refugee family. On Thursdays we take them some food that we get from helping a local church with a feeding ministry. A couple of weeks ago when we went we only had with us a few bananas, some potatoes, and a loaf of bread. When we gave it to them the mother said that she was so thankful because she was very hungry and they had no food left in the house. They literally had nothing besides what we brought to them. I almost cried right then in their living room. We brought them to our house for dinner that night and afterwards gave them all our leftovers. The next week we again took them food. I glanced in their refrigerator as they were putting it away and saw that all they had was a gallon of milk and a few onions.

My heart breaks for them.

The mother told me she has no more food stamps. I thought certainly I must have misunderstood her. Maybe she meant she was out of money for the month? But it was the beginning of January. It couldn't be that her family doesn't qualify for food stamps. In the past she had had to sell her food stamps in order to have money to pay her rent. But she has a job now and shouldn't have to do that. I mentioned this to some of my teammates and one of them did some research on the food stamp system in Houston. He found that it is terrible. I don't completely understand it but I know that it is not adequate to provide for everyone who needs it. People end up falling through the cracks while others understand and abuse the system. It isn't right. It's an injustice. And it makes me angry. This mother and her five children go hungry while others abuse the system and end up having more than they need.

I want to fix it. I want to make it right. Unfortunately, I cannot be God.

Fortunately, God is bigger than I am. God's love is deeper than I can fathom. God's grace flows freely. God holds us in the palm of His hand. God provides for His children.

I once read that ministry is often more about the one ministering than those to whom they are ministering. I've come to believe this is true. I think that Mission Year is more about God changing and transforming me than it is about me doing good things and serving others. Let me explain. God does not need me. If I had not taken food to the refugee family that Thursday, I am confident that God would have provided them with the food they needed in some other way. God cares about them more than I do. God did not need me to do Mission Year, I needed to do Mission Year. I needed to be in this place where I can allow God to change my perspective, to soften my heart, to smooth some of my rough areas, to transform me more into the person He created me to be, to draw me closer to Him.

Everything always comes down to our relationship with God and others. What He wants is for us to love Him and to allow Him to love us, to understand that He accepts us and to accept ourselves. What we do is the overflow of our relationship with Him.

Does any of this make sense? Maybe not. God doesn't make sense. I don't understand Him or His ways. That is why I can worship Him and that is why I am deeply in love with Him and want to go deeper and deeper.

Please keep the family I mentioned in your prayers. They are constantly on my mind and on my heart.

Monday, January 11, 2010

"God, I don't know"

We've been back for a week. And I feel....I don't know.
My prayer life lately has mostly consisted of "God, I don't know." The beautiful thing is that that's ok. One of the greatest treasures I've collected from my Mission Year so far is a deeper, more real relationship with God that does not depend upon spiritual highs. It's an honest relationship that doesn't go downhill when I feel drained or uncertain or simply unhappy. My prayer/communion with God does not have to be some crazy mystical experience. In this relationship I can express whatever I need to express. I can give Him my tears, thoughts, feelings, lack of words, sighs, groans, frustrations, and utter confusion.
"...the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express." (Romans 8:26). I am so thankful for this.

My heart is broken. I want to be able to fix things. I want to make things right, to make things better. I want my friend to be able to speak English, to be able to get a job that will allow her to provide for her children, I want to know that she has food in her house...

I don't understand how I feel. Perhaps I'm beginning to understand the depth of God's compassion for people. Perhaps this is a glimpse into His heart...Whatever it is, it doesn't feel wrong to feel this way.