Saturday, February 8, 1:52 p.m. – Day 8 in the States post Thailand
I’ve been reading some of my Thailand teammates blogs recapping their experiences of our trip and the theme of faithfulness keeps coming up. After reading one friend’s writings today, I was moved to post on Facebook:
Being faithful right where you’re at, right now in the plain, ordinary, perhaps unattractive moments in life is just as important as being faithful in more desirable places… Perhaps more. He sees. It matters. Stay faithful to Him.
I read that statement a few times, mulling it over
in my mind. I then recalled a really poignant conversation I had with my teammate Kathy during a ride in the back of our hosts’ 16-passenger van where we were talking of the same topic. We marveled at the faithfulness of the missionaries and pastors we met in Thailand, how steadily, quietly, tenaciously they continued working at what God had called them to do regardless of seeing outcomes. They trust that somehow, God is at work through their obedience, and though it’s not always easy to not see fruit right away, through patience they know it will come one day.
As Kathy and I pondered on that trip back into town, I had one of those moments… you know where you say something that ministers to yourself and you’re kind of like, “Wow, where did that one from?” Anyway, as I shared my own story with my friend, it crystallized for me: “Somewhere in all those years of working at a 9-to-5 where I found myself asking God, ‘When’s the next thing?’ and longing for more, I learned that if I can’t learn how to be faithful in my everyday in small town USA in Southern California, then how the heck else would I learn it just because I was in some exotic place that was more impressive?”
And it hit me.
After over a decade of being in the same place day in and day out, where accolades were few and position hardly noticed, when every few years Divine discontent would rush in and I’d long for more but get no release, the Lord was steadily, carefully disciplining me to become a woman of faithfulness. And as I was surrounded by fellow followers of Jesus on my Thailand global team and in the places we partnered in ministry, it hit me what a critical piece this is to my character and to God shaping me into a vessel for His use. I didn’t really understand it in the middle of it, but I see it now nearly 2 years later thanks to the Spirit. Nothing in our lives is ever wasted, and God will use every stitch of our circumstances to craft in us a vessel who will be for for His Kingdom purposes, be they grand or of little repute.
Right now, I sit at a the dining table at my friends’ house in Minneapolis. I’ve been sick for just past a week now, and all my plans have been out on hold. I didn’t want to be forced into rest or to feel yucky in my body right now. I feel like I should be on to bigger, bolder things, sharing about Thailand and “out there” in the city somehow “doing ministry” or getting confirmed in my calling by some big “ah ha!” visionary moment. But sometimes, often times, ministry looks like just collecting your flu-laden tissues and dumping them separately from the household garbage to limit the chance of others getting sick. Sometimes it’s just doing the dishes even though you didn’t eat because you didn’t feel like it that night. Sometimes it’s listening or talking when you’re not on your A-game. Sometimes it’s shutting up when you have nothing helpful to say. Sometimes it’s just praying for a friend in secret when they don’t even know.
There are so many moments I’ve seen the weak points in me. I’m not a bastion of patience. I’m an outgoing introvert who likes to hibernate when I don’t feel well or have had too much social interaction. I’m quick to be self-focused when I hurt or don’t feel well. And I don’t always exude the fruit of the Spirit when I’m in circumstances I can’t control. But God has patiently, quietly told me:
Rest. Stop analyzing. Stop striving. Stop trying making sense of things beyond your ability to grasp, particularly as you’re in the middle of it. Don’t worry about money. Don’t get caught up in your failings. Don’t worry about your body or your time here. Don’t grow anxious at what you may be missing or feeling ineffective right now. Don’t even try to make sense of everything I’ve shown you up to now. Just turn your imperfect self to Me, Sheree, and let me multiply you. Let Me be your strength. Just focus on today – that’s all I ever ask of you. Today. It’s My job to take care of the rest, and you can trust Me to. I love you.
So that’s where I’m at. Today looks like snow outside, nursing a bright red sore throat, taking care of my body with a nap and drinking lots of tea, and just being available to be the adult on duty for the kids here while my friends are away for a bit this afternoon. It may not be a prayer walk in downtown or evangelism in Asia, but it’s what God is asking of me right now. Will I accept the assignment? Or miss it because it seems too small? If God is about my surrender and every action I choose is to honor Him, then it shouldn’t matter if He asks me to go collect individual snowflakes outside. Will I let the lesson of the last few years take root and allow God to grow me into a more faithful me? Will I learn steady, constant love of God and others no matter how I feel or where I am or what my bank account says or what answer I can give to the ever-so common: “So what’s next?” Or must I have it on my terms, my choice of assignment, my choice of environment, my desired relationships, my plans and goals and ambitions?
I choose to receive what I’m being given instead. I can trust God to take these little loaves and fishes and make them into much, much more by staying faithful to Him.