Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Beholding His Sufficient Grace

Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, 
the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, 
the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, 
yet I will rejoice in the LORD; 
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.  Habakkuk 3:17-18

We've been 2 months in Haiti.  TWO MONTHS!  I can't believe it.  Much has happened in this time and yet not much of what we anticipated.  We made plans.  Many plans.  Good plans.

In anticipation for life in Haiti we packed a few things to come over on Christian World Outreach's ministry container.  Some things were of necessity like the kids' curricula past the initial six weeks we put in our suitcases.  Some things we just preferred like steel cut oats, favorite household items and Makayla's piano.  We packed up our kitchen too and planned ahead in simple ways for the holidays and a birthday.  This container holds lots of anticipated goodies for us - things that we thought might make the transition more enjoyable and productive.

When we got here we worked quickly on establishing the ability to send and receive mail through a ministry that services missionaries in Haiti.  We anticipated the connection with familiar people and the connection with our country and supplied benefits.

After selling our vehicle in the States and emptying our lives of extra things we thankfully received the funds needed to purchase a vehicle here.  Although this presented a tricky process we anticipated the freedom wheels afford and the opportunities for engaging in ministry.  Any time we've moved some where new we've spent ample amounts of time cruising the new surroundings.  We looked forward to this adventurous discovery.

Fellow missionaries of all sorts properly warned us to allow the time needed to adjust slowly and to realize that this transition will present many unanticipated challenges that require more time than expected.

Do you get the theme?  Anticipation.  Plans.  Expectations.  Time.

So who is God when we make plans with desired anticipations expecting things to go on a particular time line?  Who is God when our plans don't follow His time line?  Who is God when our plans get blocked?

I am discovering that He is exactly the same as before!  He is faithful, good, wise, sovereign, merciful, gracious and just!  He is God and can be trusted!

The discovery however isn't easy.  Often times heart attitudes aren't revealed until something presses in on us.  It doesn't take much for selfishness to be exposed or double motives - practical annoyances work quite nicely.

God is so patient with us.  He is such a great Heavenly Father that faithfully leads us into all truth - replacing our great with His absolute BEST!  I am in awe.  When He disciplines He establishes hope.  The same truth that He uses to cut away sin He uses to heal and fill us up with Himself!  Amazing!  His discipline always restores and brings more Joy!

So here we are 2 months later and none of the things we planned or anticipated have shown up.  Not one.  At first we threw fits and still fighting the urge.  Surely somebody is to blame.  Right?  Adam and Eve are so our parents.  The blame game can can't promise peace.  Slowly, we heard the Spirit say, "No - don't fall into the trap of blaming.  What victory of Christ is in that?"  Okay so if blaming is joyless then  I'm definitely entitled to be grumpy with a 'woe-is-me' attitude, right?  Again, the Spirit says, "Eh.  Where is your heart?  It is not joyfully resting but rather troubled with fret - the fret of not getting your way."  You get the idea.  I'm sure this wrestling between truth and flesh isn't foreign to you as the truth shapes us from glory to glory.

Who is God when our plans are blocked?  Who is God when circumstances press in on us and we find ourselves backed into a corner?  Who is God when our best efforts fall flat and we're not as prepared as we had expected?  Who is God when our definition of comfortable isn't His?

We're discovering that when backed into a corner and the sin of serving two masters (God and ourselves) is exposed He is faithful to point us to the Cross where we see Jesus, Who paid for this sin and offers His righteousness instead.  "Christ is all I have.  Christ is all I need."  We find the Spirit drawing us into all Truth - He is strengthening us with fresh supplies of grace to see Him as Supreme over plans.  When backed into a corner He has painted beautiful pictures of Himself that gladden our hearts more than the temporary delight of steel cut oats or our preferred celebration methods.  He really does know what's best.  He has made us know our place.  We are the clay and His is the Potter - there is a huge difference.  Everything is subject to Him.  Everything.

"For momentary, light affliction 
is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, 
as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen.  
For the things that are seen are transient, 
but the things that are unseen are eternal."  2 Corinthians 4:17,18

So I'm praying and seeking to pull up a chair, lay aside our splendid decisions and lofty anticipations for the majesty of His beauty in this place right now; beholding His sufficient supplied grace; enjoying the ample ways He provides for all our needs; praising Him for the way He emptied Himself and became a man to bring the ministry of reconciliation to a lost people.  We're thanking Him for the humility of Christ in the manger and the mysterious ways He makes His glory known.  His ways are not our ways.  His ways are so much better.  And we've only just begun the real adventure knowing God!  We lack nothing.  Absolutely nothing!

“Any problem that comes while I obey God (and there will be many), 
increases my overjoyed delight because I know 
that my Father knows and cares and I can watch and anticipate 
how He will unravel my problems.” -Chambers

“Thou shalt never find a bundle of affliction 
which has not bound up in the midst of it 
sufficient grace.” - Spurgeon

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