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Monday, March 3, 2014

Beauty from Ashes

I may not have had a smooth raising or have a typical life.. I may be full of flaws and imperfections- scars from growing up too early in an environment of little to no supervision, guidance, or example. A place of despair, rejection, abandonment, and having a picture seared into my memory of how little I was worth to people who were created to love me unconditionally and forever. We all have our baggage, we all have our story.. and mine has pushed me to become who I am today and defined how fiercly and passionately I pursue the Lord.  I am smart but I can't explain it, I am faithful and I can't comprehend it, I am older but I can't out grow it, I travel the world but I can't escape it, I am strong but I can't overcome it... WITHOUT the mighty miracles of my Deliverer. I do not tell you this for pity or for self righteousness, I tell you this because the same God that loves me through my brokeness and fault and fights for me is the same God that longs to be the personal Lover of your soul. And I tell you this because I have been there. Yes there, in the rock bottom hole of desperation where you think there is no hope. Let me tell you friends, there is Hope. So just like I held on for dear life to every truth He promised me in the pit of despair, I will hold tighter still. My walk is a daily choice and things are not always good.. But my God is. I continue to battle the enemy but I know who holds the key to victory.

Every aspect of my life has been used to break my hard headed and hard hearted self to the point of physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual exhaustion so that I would learn to rest my broken heart in the hands of the One who ever so carefully created it and soley rely on the One who will never disappoint, reject, hurt, or forsake us.  Sometimes I wonder if God didn't let me walk through the fire would I know He was my protector? If He didn't allow me to stumble through the valley would I know that He can carry me up the mountain? If He didn't place me in circumstaces where the absolute only constant was His commitment to love me would I understand His promises and how real they are? I don't have the answer to these questions but I do know that The Lord created in me a strong willed stubborn soul with a fire and fight that even a mother has trouble handling. So, although that will of steel and fiesty soul of mine have been my saving grace in situations I didn't ask to be in, it most likely and sadly would have prohibited me from learning the characteristics of my Almighty Father without being put in the middle of my own worst nightmare and having no where else to turn but to the One who is Able. As much as the pain from old wounds still haunts me and fresh ones are made more often than I feel necessary, I am thankful to be constantly reminded I am not in control and how I could never survive without my Redeemer. I am grateful to The Lord for revealing Himself to me in new ways every time I need it. I am in awe of His patience and how much He tells me I am worth. I have learned and grown leaps and bounds in my 24 years of life and know that journey continues until we reach our Heavenly destination but I will continue to keep my eye on a higher purpose and live loud for His name.

I am blessed beyond anything a wretch like me deserves. The Lord has provided me with a family who love and adore me even though I am not their own, circumstances that show me without a shadow of a doubt that there is a God who loves me unconditionally and is ALWAYS sufficient for any and every need I have, and grace beyond measure for the times my lack of feeling adequate enough takes me to the middle of decisons I should never be in. I stand amazed by the protection of His hand over me since birth. The unchanging Savior that held His healing hands around that tiny premature miracle is the same sovereign King who cares for every hair on my head and desire in my heart. Through all the chaos, dysfuction, and messiness I have endured- Jesus Christ has been the only constant, the only Truth. My rock, my motivator. I realize that I could have easily turned the other direction and been on a completely different path in the blink of an eye but the fight instilled in me and the grace of the good Lord above would not allow the easy way out. So yes, I have been there.. And I am still there sometimes.. in the pit that is. But  circumstances should not define my relationship with my Almighty Father, instead my realationship with Him should define my reaction to circumstances and I am learning how to live that.

So, here I am.. assuring myself daily of the worth I have in God's truth, battling the enemy with the sword- the Word of God. Despite the silent whispers in the actions of those close unintentionally planting lies in my ear of how little I matter and how little I deserve. I find my worth in the Father who carefully placed every freckle on my face. Some people have asked me after all that I have been through how in the world am I so grounded in my faith. My response is 'How can I NOT be?' After His sacrifice how can I not let Him use everything He made me to be to the fullness for His glory? After His faithfulness and protection how can I not be fully devoted to His plan for my life? How can I settle for anything less than what The Lord tells me I deserve no matter what my feelings say when He wants so much to shower me with blessings? After He has shown me His love has no limit how can I not with wreckless abandon tell everyone I meet how much He loves them? I really can not fathom any circumstance leading anywhere else but to the foot of the throne of the Author of life. Whether well fed or hungry, whether in plenty or in want, whether spoiled with every unnecessary gadget we can imagine before we even have a chance to desire it or being so deprived of lifes necessities that you can see deaths door- all of these  are made to point you to the need your soul has for a relationship with our Maker. That opportunity to grow in Him in the middle of trials or in the middle of joy is not an option- it is THE option. The straight and narrow sometimes gets just that- straight and narrow, with not a lot of traffic it seems.. and I am human so yes I get lonely.. But I am reminded of an old hymn that says "though none go with me I still will follow" and I know that complete surrender to my Savior is the only way I can live my life. When I'm lonely- I confide in Him, for He cares for me. When I'm sad, disappointed, or hurt- I cry out to Him, He holds me close and assures me of His promises. When I'm confused, lost, or scared- He takes my hand and leads me. When I mess up- He covers me with grace. I can not explain enough how ALL sufficient he is for any and every need and how no one can fill His place in your life.

Well, after pouring a piece of my heart out there I have to admit the transition home has been rough. It is hard to live with this perspective being surrounded by people without it. I received a priceless message from a ship friend that put the feelings in my heart into words without even knowing it because she was describing her struggle to fit in back home as well. Pieces of her message and pieces of my heart: Everything here felt so empty and pointless because they just seemed so insignificant compared to Africa. I couldn't really care if the other day somebody offended you in the pew next to you. (at least they had a pew to sit in) It all just felt ridiculous that this seems to be what ministry is about here. When over there it's life and death. Devastated people everywhere. I felt Him everywhere in Africa. But I just wasn't feeling Him here. BUT..I KNEW He was/is still here even if I couldn't feel Him. So I cried out to Him every night as I wept. I begged Him to not leave me here alone. To show me my purpose. To hold onto me TIGHT. He taught me that LOVE CONDESCENDS. What people here feel is SUPER important to them, so because these are the issues THEY face, I WILL care about them. Even though they may not be life or death, or hault-the-universe-important... They will be important to me. Because my broken heart, in it's pitiful state- is not life or death to the universe either. God knows that, yet He bottles every tear. His heart breaks with mine. WHY? It's not VITAL? It's just a silly girl with a broken heart! Because the God of the universe has chosen to CONDESCEND HIS LOVE. To me. Don't try to find it in yourself to care about the issues people at home care about... Find it in Him. Those honest words pierced my soul, it truly was like she saw into my heart and put it on a page. He IS here in Texas and he IS in Africa and the people all over the world- whether in plenty or in want NEED Him. They need Him just like I do to take the next breath some days and on others to give an extra portion of grace to a neighbor. It might be more of a struggle for me to live here in excess than it is for me to live with the basic needs for life, but the same God who moved mountains on the coast of a land far away in the same God who is standing beside me here and sees my every need. So the saying stands- When you can't see His hand, trust His heart.

As I enter my 25th year of life, my prayer is that I would experience my God in ways I never have. That I would be whole heartedly obedient and allow Him to use me in ways beyond my comprehension. That I would grow in my faith more that ever. That I would seek opportunity to invest in causes I'm passionate about and love on people that need it. And that I would never forget I'm a daughter to the Heavenly Father a Princess to the King of kings.

Lots of love and blessings-

"I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters says the Lord Almighty." 2 Cor. 2:18