Tuesday, February 2, 2010

For His Ways Are Not Our Ways...

I’m writing this blog the day after my 19th birthday… which, I might add, was absolutely, incredibly fabulous. I say this because it made me think: why is it that God continually pours out His blessings and favor on me? Every Monday through Friday I sit and study about suffering around the world. I learn frightening statistics, study hopeless community problems and am taught about child abuse. Then the weekend comes, and I experience God’s goodness in ways I could never have imagined. From the beauty of His nature to the joy of friendship, I experience my Lord’s goodness. From delighting in surfing to having a safe place to rest and plenty of food to eat, every weekend I am in awe of God’s provision and miraculous blessings. But when the weekend ends, and I reflect on my “luck,” I become troubled. Why me? Why favor and blessings and fun and love? Is it okay that I smile and laugh all weekend, while I fully know what is going on around the world? Should I really waste my time playing Frisbee when there are kids who need help that very second? Why do I “need” to eat three times a day, when many don’t eat once in three days? And why is it that I have never truly suffered, when some people can’t escape suffering? These questions won’t leave my heart, and so I am on a quest to learn more of God’s purposes in all of these confusing situations. I am currently reading The Good News About Injustice by Gary Haugen, founder of International Justice Mission, and was able to take some comfort in the wisdom of this passage: “It is a poorly lived life that cannot experience joy, peace, laughter, beauty and mirth despite all the oppression and injustice that mars the goodness of God’s creation.” Right on, Gary.

I am earnestly seeking through prayer and the Word why God does things the way He does… though I’m not fully expecting a good answer, for “His ways are not our ways… as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55). In no way do I expect to exalt myself to the point of understanding God’s crazy ways, but I do want to seek wisdom from Him and understand more of His character and plan. I’m tired of being confused. But one thing I do know: “Delight yourself in the LORD, and He will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37). I have certainly been able to enjoy God in all His fullness, and as I delight in Him I do see the desires of my heart being given to me. For that I am thankful! I hope that with time, I am able to understand more of God’s plans and purposes in my life, the lives of others, and how they are all supposed to work together for His glory.

This week was a sort of “break” from all of the heavy material we’ve been learning about. Instead of an emphasis on ministering outwards, the focus was directed inward all week, with a concentration on Inner Healing. Christy Scott came and shared with us, and what I took out of this week was that “You can’t give to people what you don’t have.” I learned that I can’t offer street children love if I haven’t directly received love from God myself. I can’t offer hope if hope doesn’t exist in my own life, and I am unable to offer wholeness to a broken child until I am whole in God. Wow. This week blew my mind. I won’t be able to doubt God’s goodness one day, and then turn around tell a child that God is good the next. This week forced me to confront my own walk with God – its strengths AND weaknesses. I was able to highlight the areas lacking in my relationship with Jesus, and begin to work towards mending them. This journey started Monday morning, but didn’t end on Friday at noon – it is one that will take time and work, but I believe it is so vital to working with children at risk. I will need to preach and offer the truth – truth about God that exists across the board, in their life and mine.

I had the privilege of meeting some of the world’s most beautiful children last weekend. Our group hooked up with a Canadian missionary couple who is working in multiple slum communities and networking with local churches to bring the gospel of love to the families of San Jose. This couple from Canada has dedicated their lives to serving and building relationships within these neighborhoods, and their devotion and progress were so encouraging for me to see. We participated in and helped run their weekly Saturday children’s program, which included worship, dancing, games, a short Bible lesson and fellowship. I was able to meet and talk with so many incredible kids, and I delighted in learning their names and about their families and what sorts of things they like to do. It was brief, but I am so grateful for that time.

I am continually amazed at how the hearts of people around the world are so similar – God has instilled within all of us consistent and unfailing desires. I grew up in the United States’ Midwest Suburbia. These children have grown up in the slums of San Jose, Costa Rica. We could not have had more different backgrounds. And yet in each of my conversations with these children, I found out that we both love sports. We both love singing and worshipping God. We all desire love, hugs, smiling, laughter and fun. We want to know that there is a God who loves and cares for us, and who has a plan for our life. We want a family to care for us. We want a future and a hope and opportunities for a free life. We love candy. And balloons. And running and playing. These children are not different from me at all – we’re the exact same. Suffering or not, we all have the same desires and needs. Poverty or riches, deep down we are all yearning for the same thing – peace, joy, love and purpose. And the good news is that God’s beautiful Kingdom is available for everyone– five years old or fifty-five years old, Tico or Gringo, rich or poor - no matter where you come from or where you are going.

Current Event:

Church Group Detained in Haiti for Illegally Transporting Orphans Across the Border

A group of 10 Christians from Idaho, USA were arrested and detained in Haiti for trying to transport orphans from the chaos of Haiti to an orphanage in the Dominican Republic. They claim they were trying to do the "right thing," yet lacked proper documentation for each child. They are being accused of trafficking and are awaiting trial in Port-au-Prince.

Please pray that...

-Relief workers and missionaries do not act irrationally or irresponsibly in the face of overwhelming chaos.

-Children are protected from dangerous situations and from being taken advantage of or exploited during this vulnerable time of transition and disaster.

-Children receive the help they need from legitimate, legal and safe organizations and people.

-The church group being detained is treated fairly, and able to find a way to help that is legal and in the best interest of the children in Haiti.

Youth With A Mission

I keep linking all these organizations that work with children, yet I haven't posted anything about the organization I'm actually with - Youth With A Mission (YWAM). Many of you already know about YWAM through your own experiences, or me sharing with you but I'll tell you anyway :) Started 50 years ago by a couple with a heart to "know God and make Him known" (they YWAM slogan), YWAM is a non-denominational, international Christian missions organization working to train up and propel into action people of ALL ages with a heart to know God and make Him known among the nations. And the name is quite misleading - it's not just for youth, there are people of all ages involved in over 150 countries, all growing and serving the Lord together :) I'd highly recommend getting involved if you're interested...!

PlayPumps International

PlayPumps International is an innovative organization working to help alleviate suffering due to lack of clean water across Africa. Through the brilliant design of a merry-go-round for children to play on, the organization has come up with a way to pump clean water from the ground and into storage simply by allowing children to have fun. For every hour of play on the merry-go-round, 1,400 liters of clean water are pumped into a tank for the community to use! Learn more or donate at the site above. They're doing some amazing stuff.