So I have been thinking back to the year of 2000 when I took my first mission trip to Argentina. It was the experience of a lifetime that I could never forget. The people I met were so sweet and sincere....and probably the greatest group of people I have ever met. I had always seen the commercials "help the poor" with the video and pictures of the small kids who were hungry, and the tin shack homes with a mother and father and their 8 or 9 kids living in them....but can I just say that it is not the same seeing it in person. Watching a family still thank God, even though they are praying for their next meal which may not even come for another couple of days. For my age it was a huge eye opener to experience this. I grew a love for these people that I never knew I could have. When I got home I was ready to sign up for the next trip.
It's been 9 years and MANY things have changed. I am married to an awesome husband. I have 3 amazing children. My oldest 2 are in school now. All these changes have happened in my life....but I still have the same passion I had 9 years ago... A passion for missions and bringing those with so little, a hope and a path to riches beyond silver and gold. I don't have money to give these people...like everyone else my husband and I work hard to support our family. But the story in Acts about the lame man comes to mind....When Peter walked up to the gates and the begger plead for money to survive. Peter compassionately took this man by the hand and replied "Silver and gold I have not, but what I do have I give you in the name of the Lord, rise up and walk" I know I can be used to help people like this lame man. I can give money to help a few poor people out...but I have something MUCH greater to give them. Someone who is in a situation that seems hopeless. Someone who has a hard time seeing beyond their hungry bellies, their health condition, or living circumstances. I want to show these people the love of Christ and reveal to them no matter what their life on Earth may be like...they can have all the riches and glory in a God that is mighty and saves. Show them that their are people in this world that God has sent to love them!
One thing I might add, from my learning experience in Argentina. These people were poor beyond poor. They lived in little communites that were practically garbage dumps. The group of people I traveled with were assigned to one area and I nearly choked when we drove by. I remember seeing these people rummaging through all this garbage that filled the entire community streets, yards....I can't describe this picture to you but it is so vivid in my head as if it were yesterday. Cows, dogs, chickens, pigs....they walked thru all this garbage, which I am sure they relieved themselves in. There was a dead mule and other deceased animals lying in these piles that they rummaged thru salvaging whatever they could for eating or for other living necessities.
There were some people that believed in God and had faith beyond what I had. They were more concerned about serving me than me who purposely made a trip out to serve them and bring them good news. One night, I was so cold when we went to someones home for a visit. One of the ladies took off her red sweater and gave it to me. When it was time to go, I tried to give it back to her and she absolutely refused to accept it back. It was most likely the only sweater she had and she gave it to me. She never once complained or thought about the fact the next night she may be cold and without a sweater....but she wanted to serve me. I hear so many complain about having no money or being able to live the way they want to live with the materials they want. I have witnessed on hand people who live in shacks with dirt floors, eat from a garbage dump praying for their next meal. And here I am wanting more, when they are just wanting a decent meal and good health for their family. It just opened my eyes and showed me I took for granted my own toothbrush and that I was one spoiled little girl.
The church is taking another trip to Panama February 2010. Rusty and I have talked a numerous amount of times the past 3 years the church has taken this trip. This year I just cannot ignore it anymore. God willing~ if it's in His will...I am going. I have heard people tell me how hot, and dirty, and flat out hard this trip will be. I might not be able to handle the week with out bathing, and sleeping in a tent in the hot and humid weather. I won't lie, I got to sleep in a bed and a decent hotel in Argentina. But I in no way expected it to be some vacation nor do I expect it to be that way in Panama. I honestly have no idea what to expect. I don't know what it is like there, or what people face. But I do expect great things from God and believe many will hear His voice and let Him in!
If it ever crosses your mind, pray about this. For all those who are going and all those who will come to know Him.
Sunday, August 2, 2009
What is Mercy? Honestly for a long time I just figured it was forgiving people when they wronged or hurt you. But I have learned mercy is an act of kindness when it is not deserved. I have very much learned in the past month that I am not reflecting Mercy in my life to people. Even family. My husband. I don't get what I want or I am wronged....and I tend to automatically go into this major defense mode when feeling under attack or hurt. It is not easy for me to swallow my pride and show an act of kindness to someone in my life that has repeatedly offended or hurt me. Or maybe it is for some people but in the back of your mind you are still dwelling on their short commings and drowning your heart and mind in judgement. I read a quote from Joyce Meyer ...
"Judgemental thoughts come from a negative mind, a mind that thinks about what is wrong with an individual instead of what is right."
Q: Would this imply that focusing on what is wrong with an individual (friend or foe) does not reflect Mercy?
This quote has pretty much convicted me in every part of my life. I don't show the same mercy to people that God does with me. Maybe I am the only person out there who finds it hard to extend mercy to the ones who repeatedly annoy you, hurt you, ridicule you...persecute you for whatever you lack as a person for them. Expecting you to be something other than human. I find this hard. Does it mean I don't want to do it....My heart longs than nothing else to love God and serve Him and reflect every good and great attribute He posesses. But wanting it and acting it out I feel are two different things. My problem....again I am ONLY speaking for myself, is I am doing so good for awhile, and then there is always someone that hurts you and you blow like a loose canon....maybe not publically but I try to remind myself I may not be merciless to the person's face but God knows every intent of my heart and no one else does. And when I dwell on what is wrong and offensive about individuals and not the good I am not showing Mercy but judgment. ...I am judging the intent of their heart and in the end that is God's job and God's alone.Every person does this and if some told me they don't I would call you a liar....sorry... I have learned expecting anything from anyone and refusing them to have room for error is anything but an act of Mercy and pretty much the complete opposite. Maybe they have wronged you one too many times....but this is it! Mercy stops there. It doesn't for Christ and it shouldn't for us. I don't think people should beat themselves up either for maybe finding it hard to show mercy. We as Christians all fail to live everything we claim is truth and of God. If we were able to live out everything we preach....we would be perfect ....So for those who just find it so hard....you are not alone but don't let ANYONE make you feel you don't deserve to love God and preach the word because at one time you found it hard to forgive or show mercy....just cry out to your Savior to shape and mold your heart to be more like His....ask Him to help you with this. I don't find it anywhere in scripture that says because you love God this all comes easy...
In my own personal experience I think I have lacked in giving mercy because I myself have not accepted God's mercy. I see how humans put up guards when hurt and shut down....I have not always had the best image of myself and don't give myself mercy but chastize myself for whatever I did. And then hear other people rub it in that I am a Christian "How could you do that" "How could you say that" ....I always fall into the trap that I can't serve others in need because I made a mistake or reflected a characterisitc that was not one of Christ's. The next thing you know I am withdrawing and not wanting to give my all to Christ because I didn't live up to what I said. Is it just me or does anyone else find it easier to preach forgiveness than give it. Or Mercy? My all is not good enough to some but it means EVERYTHING to your heavenly Father. It is important to look at how you treat yourself because sometimes you try to give to others what you yourself do not have.If you do not recieve God's love and then love yourself in a balanced way, how can that love flow thru you to anyone else. This is all making so much sense to me but how do you do it. I can't do it in my own strength. When I try I fail miserably. God I guess is the only one who can help me....am I right or wrong. I am not making comments these are all questions and I am seeking to grow and flourish in this area of my life from you who may have conqured this area in your life...Is that possible? If there is any spiritual gift I want it is Mercy to no end.
A really good friend of mine who I honestly find wise in my books told me that only God knows my heart and it's intentions. God knows my desire to serve him. There will be men who will think they know it and judge it to their standards....But God is the author of my heart.....no one else. God doesn't call perfect people to preach His word and reach the lost He calls the obedient. Thank God because I would be useless in the body of Christ otherwise.
Keep your chin up...keep praising the King of Kings.