Without Excuse

 

I find that I am already bracing myself for comments back home that are bound to get under my skin. Excuses hidden within a compliment. “It’s so great what you were able to do Mercy Ships”…
since you’re so young…
since you don’t have responsibilities…
since you are single…
since you don’t have kids…
since you’re a nurse…
since you’re so brave…
since you have the money…
since you have the health…
since you have a heart for “that.”

“That.”
You mean obedience? You mean taking God seriously? Gosh, I could really go on a rant right now just about that whole “you have the heart” thing. Ugh. I did not “follow my heart” to Africa. Leave that sentiment to Disney.

Do me a favor. Heck, do yourself a favor.
Don’t take a look at this cool adventure I’ve been on and chalk it up to my life circumstances. Don’t you dare say that I am more qualified to do “crazy” things.

Do me another favor.
Don’t interpret my indignation as anger toward any of you. I am furious, but not at ordinary people who have given up on a dream.
I am livid…about the lie.

The enemy of the Kingdom of God is still using the same old strategies to discourage us from realizing our God-given dreams–despite all the evidence to utterly refute this lie he has taught us to repeat to ourselves.

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Let me flood you with truth:

God desires you to be his coworker. Now.
Obedience begins before we FEEL strong or worthy.
Obedience begins before you’ve worked out all your own issues.
Life is short. Eternity is forever. Get moving.

The entire community of believers, especially here on Mercy Ships, is testament alone that God calls those from ALL walks of life. All languages, cultures, genders, professions, single, dog-lover with a pet at home, dating, engaged, married, divorced, widowed, adopted, married with kids, married with grandkids, retired, in debt, out of debt, baby Christian, mature Christian, even those with same-sex attractions or issues of lust in general.

The entire Word of God (aka The Bible) is testament, no pun intended, to the fact that God gets more glory when the unqualified obey him.
Gideon: coward…victorious warrior.
David: smallest tribe/baby of the family/despised profession…leader of a nation.
Moses: murderer/stutterer…deliverer/intercessor/motivator.
Paul: the “perfect Jew”/persecutor of Christians…chosen to bring the gospel to the Gentiles.
Balam’s donkey: kind of an a**…mouthpiece
Rahab: prostitute…righteous/ancestor of Jesus.

The only situation that being qualified gets you anywhere is to be President of the United States…oh wait. Haha.

Now for the scriptural back up:
“But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.” 1 Cor 1:27

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Cor 12:9

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content (and still preaching!). 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Phil 4:11-13

He has told you, O man, what is good;
    and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
    and to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8

But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. 26 If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. 27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. James 1:25-27

 For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. 16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore,we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Cor 5:14-21

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. 27 And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. 28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? 29 For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, 30 saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’ 31 “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. 33 In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples (that’s the only “preparation” you need). Luke 14:26-33

In her quest to love those with communicable disease (specifically HIV), Mother Teresa was asked what would happen if she or other volunteers contracted the disease and died. She very casually stated that she would spend eternity with Jesus.
What do we truly have to lose?

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Gosh, I say this with tears in my eyes… DON’T YOU DARE.
Do not underestimate God’s power. Do not make excuses.
Don’t you EVER say, “I could never.”
It’s a lie.
So stop saying it.

Our enemy doesn’t creepily whisper evil things into our head. He’s not quite that dumb. He plants thoughts like the movie Inception. He uses your inner voice and thoughts to reinforce his lies.

“We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ” 2 Cor 10:5

Beloved, dream big dreams; and step toward them with God by your side.

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To be honest, now that I’ve been here…I don’t even think this seven-month journey has been that “crazy”. It was more like an extended field trip. Shame on me if this is the only “kingdom work” I do for the rest of my life. God has given me full and abundant life through Christ.
I dare not squander it.

I leave you with this one piece of advice:
Leave.
Leave behind what you know. Leave the Land of Familiar.

Stop listening to the lies in your heart and on your tongue. Yes, you can. 
Stop conforming to worldly, practical wisdom. Yes, you can.
Yes, you can __________________.
You and I are not qualified to do God’s work; and I say this with love…Get over it.
Leave. Yes, you can.

A Longing for Home

Hey friends!

[To be honest, I didn’t think it would ever come to this. I have so loved working toward an obvious mission. I have loved seeing life-changing transformations. I have loved giving of myself to serve the world’s forgotten poor. I have even loved the community life and the country side.]


 

This past week, I finally got a twinge of home-sickness. I haven’t shed a tear, yet. I haven’t told my family. I haven’t even told a soul on the ship. I don’t know where this came from. Why now? I have two months left in this beautiful country, and I still have so much to do and see 🙂 I am now closer (time-wise) to experiencing home than I have been in the previous 5 months. You would think that it would be easier, not harder to be away from everything I’ve ever known. My thirst for home will be quenched soon, right?

Soon, I will enjoy familiar sights and foods.
I will be able to enjoy all my favorite activities.
I will be able to drive.
I will be able to have alone time.
I will be able to sleep when I want and make noise when I want.
I will be able to eat my meals at times that are more preferable for me.
I will be able to finish my entire breakfast and  coffee without interacting with a single other human.
I will be able to sit in the presence of people who know me and just BE.

Although I would love to have all those things, I simply cannot leave easily.


 

It is a commonly used premise here on the ship that our heart will never be whole again, because we leave a piece of ourselves here on the ship. And so far, crew that have left before me have seemed to conform to that. When crew leave, they just want to be back here. I honestly find that incredibly sad. I don’t ever want to leave, but I also don’t want to be away from this other piece of my heart.

I would keep rambling my musings to you here, but I don’t see the purpose in it. I still love this place. I still love the organization of Mercy Ships. There is just something in me with a longing for “home.”

And here is where I find myself reassured: I am not alone in this.

David, before he was king, was a nomad for years. In 1 Sam 20-27 it tells the story of a warrior on the run. He wasn’t safe at home and he wasn’t safe in foreign territory, as his reputation as a fierce warrior often preceded him. Everywhere he went was only a temporary refuge from the elements and his pursuer. During this tumultuous time in his life, he wrote this:

One thing I ask from the Lord,
    this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
    all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord
    and to seek him in his temple.
Psalm 27:4

I have studied, underlined, and highlighted that scripture numerous times before, but now it comes to life. The poor guy just wanted to be HOME.

However, his longing is clearly not for a physical home, but rather he longed for something that he couldn’t find anywhere on earth. When I realized this, I came to the conclusion that my own longing is bigger and deeper than my desire for the familiarity of CT, USA.
I have a deep longing dwell…
where I have citizenship,
where I am known
and where I belong.


 

Over the past 5 months, I have been saving up wealth in heaven instead of a bank account. And now my heart is getting confused. “Where your treasure is, there your heart will also be.” Matthew 6:21
So, where IS my heart “at home”?

I am, however, convinced that wherever I am, God is always with me. On various occasions during my field service in Madagascar, He has recalled that truth to my memory. So if I am never away from God, and if I will never be in a location that 100% satisfies my heart again–then that must mean only one thing. I must spend my days preparing for my one true home. No matter what my global positioning is, I must store up treasure in the only place I will ever feel “at home” again. Eternity has been written in my heart, and I have just come to realize that in a new way. My once satisfied heart has been divided here on earth, and I cannot put it back together again. My heart longs for something more.

Leaving the North American continent has ruined me forever.
I highly recommend it.

Do not let a day go by…that you are not pouring out your “self” to prepare for your heart’s true home.


In other news, I have been enjoying some cool adventures with friends! My dear friend Krystal is no longer with us. No she didn’t die, but pretty darn close haha. Below are some pictures of an afternoon spent in the trees 🙂
Photo credit to Joshua Young.

10 Jan 2016 Fluffy Palms _-1710 Jan 2016 Fluffy Palms _-1410 Jan 2016 Fluffy Palms _-910 Jan 2016 Fluffy Palms _-610 Jan 2016 Fluffy Palms _-410 Jan 2016 Fluffy Palms _-210 Jan 2016 Fluffy Palms _-3210 Jan 2016 Fluffy Palms _-3010 Jan 2016 Fluffy Palms _-2910 Jan 2016 Fluffy Palms _-2610 Jan 2016 Fluffy Palms _-2410 Jan 2016 Fluffy Palms _-2210 Jan 2016 Fluffy Palms _-2010 Jan 2016 Fluffy Palms _-1910 Jan 2016 Fluffy Palms _-18