Monday, March 11, 2013

Good Isn't Always Pleasing

Josiah and I cruised along the coast enjoying the ocean breeze awaiting our relaxing day at the beach.  The day had gotten off to a rocky start as my car overheated coming up the mountain and we discovered that my hood latches were broken.  But eventually the car cooled down, we found a strong rope to tie down the hood, and we continued on toward the beach.  The unexpected hiccup in our trip was slightly frustrating but I quickly forgot about it as my mind focused on our final destination.  The past month had been stressful for me and all I could think about was lying in a hammock with the sound of the waves crashing on the shore.  I could spend the day sleeping, reading, and relaxing.  It would be a day of rest.  A good day!

CRASH!!!  Tiny shards of glass showered down over Josiah and me.  I slammed on my brakes and instinctively threw my head out the window.  We screeched to a halt as the hood of my car finished shattering my windshield before crashing back down to its original location.  I sat in the car for a few seconds stunned and clarifying in my mind that the hood of my car had actually just ruined my perfect beach day.  I stepped out of the car and assessed the damage.  The windshield was shattered.  The hood was no longer usable unless you wanted it for a tea cup.  I stood there and laughed.  I laughed not so much out of joy, frustration or anger but because it simply capped the most ridiculous month ever.  The month had already held a new roommate from Nicaragua, dealing with a stolen iPod, finding a new place to rent, preparing to move, moving, housing contract issues, living in limbo for a week, house hunting once again, moving back to the old apartment, having some money stolen, and hiring a new employee at the site.  All I wanted was one day of rest and peace before short term outreaches started coming to work.  Instead, I spent most of the day sitting at the mechanic watching them take off my windshield and thinking about all the money this was going to cost me.

"And we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose"   Romans 8:28

I memorized this verse as a counselor at Bible Memory Camp about 5 years ago and for whatever reason, the verse has always stuck with me.  Maybe I remember it so vividly since it has a feel good message and it makes life seem like it will only hold pleasing things.  However, reflecting more deeply on the events of the past month, I start to really wonder what Paul meant when he wrote that God works for the GOOD of those who love him.  It surely didn't seem like God was working for my good throughout the last month.  It was hard.  I was tired.  Nothing in my life seemed stable or established.

However, throughout all the chaos of the last month, one thing is certain, I ran to the Lord more often than normal.  Sometimes I went and begged for help.  Sometimes I went overwhelmed and feeling abandoned.  Sometimes I went frustrated and ready to fight.  And sometimes I simply went to just be.

While some of the issues and problems have been resolved from the last month, I still feel tired and uneasy.  Running to the Lord time and time again didn't fix everything.  I'm still unclear of what life will hold for me tomorrow, or the next month, or even the next year.  I know there will be much better months and I'm sure some months will be much worse.  However, one thing that God has continued to teach me is that his promises are true despite my perceptions.  God is working for my good.  Good and pleasing moments in this life will come and God desires that I would have them but my good isn't just wrapped up in fleeting moments such as those.  The good moments are when we run to him!  For there is only one thing that is truly good and it is Christ, the Lord, the King of Kings!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

"And You Will Know That I Am The Lord"

Martha McLeod spent two weeks at the MF Site last fall!  She has come back as an intern this Spring and God is using her organizational and administrative skills to impact lives in the Dominican Republic.  Here is part of her story!

Interning at the Microfinance Site this spring has been an unexpected blessing from the Lord.  I first came in November on a two-week outreach, and it was a joy to see God open all the doors for me to come back so soon!  But sometimes I wonder if he really had this planned all along, because he certainly never passed along the memo to learn Spanish.  The last month and a half has been a lot of things, but among them, it has been a crash course in Spanish.  For me, one of the hardest things about learning this language is when there are two words to express something that we only have one of in English.  Examples include the two verbs to be: "ser" and "estar." Even more difficult is the distinction between "por" and "para," which are both translated as for.  But then I think about all the wildly irregular things in English, and I offer a prayer of gratitude to the Lord that at least it's Spanish I'm learning.

Another example of this is the two words meaning to know: "saber" and "conocer."  Recently I have been thinking a lot about knowing, or rather, the idea of being known.  When it comes down to it, one of the deepest desires of my heart is to be known.  I want to be genuinely understood, probably because being known is so closely linked to being loved, or at least the two mean a lot more in tandem.  As I reflect on all of this, I think it is a significant part of why I love working at the Microfinance Site, and at Students International in general.  People here really understand me, and honest conversations abound.  It is easy to be genuine, and there is just a lot of love and encouragement, even a midst the unavoidable conflict and frustration.  Even in my short time here, I am known. 

Right now, I am working my way through the book of Ezekiel.  It is the current step in a study of the prophets that started about a year ago.  The last twelve months have revealed so many of the manifold riches of the Old Testament, but oftentimes, it's still hard to identify with the details of a time and place so far removed from my own.  Then out of nowhere, God reveals another gem.  In chapter six of Ezekiel, I started to notice this refrain: "... and then you will know that I am the LORD."  I guess it shouldn't surprise me that it is a desire of the Lord's to be known as well.  When I think about things terms of his desire (even his fight) to be known, a lot of those things about the Old Testament that seem so puzzling start to make more sense.  God is very willing to destroy things in the temporal realm in order to bring people to the eternal knowledge of him.  He is willing to do anything to be known, because if we really knew him, we would love him.  To realize that my desires are so similar to God's in this way feels sort of odd, but understanding some of these nuances of being an image bearer allows me to grasp things about God, and how I should relate to him, just a little bit better.  And for that, I am grateful.

As Miriam said to our new students this morning during orientation, what sets apart our microfinance organization from others is the fact that we share the truth of God's love with our bank associates and disciple them through life.  But what is discipleship?  I keep returning to one definition that is so simple yet so profound: to know Christ and make him known.  In that way, discipleship fits in with the character of God displayed throughout the Bible.  It has been a privilege to witness this in the work of the Microfinace Site the past several weeks.  I see our ministry daily declaring God's love, but what is beautiful is that it comes from the deep well of  Eric and Miriam's personal experience of that love.  They know Christ, and they are making him known.  

I pray it is a blessing to the heart of God to look down on this little island and see their faithfulness as his disciples, making disciples.    

The MF Site wants to continue to bring students and the poor together for the glory of God.  Consider being 1 of the 106 and be a part of what God is doing here in the Dominican Republic!