Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Answered prayer

"Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised; and His greatness is unsearchable. One generation shall praise Thy works to another, and shall declare Thy mighty acts." Psalm 145: 3-4. 
    I just hung up from a 4 hour conversation with my parents, and am overflowing with joy and thanksgiving to hear all the blessings the Lord has poured out on them this past week. He has been doing amazing things, and it is so exciting to get to hear and share in even a part of that. (Daddy has a sort of on-going joke whenever anyone uses the word "amazing" or "awesome", he will say " You mean just normal good?" but in this instance he himself said "This week has been amazing!")
  As many of you have also done, I've been praying almost round the clock over the course of this past week (and even a little before). It was just such a huge burden on my heart, and even though I couldn't be there in person, I wanted to have a part.  
  Its hard to even know where to begin with this, but I guess the first thing that struck me, was how overwhelmingly touched and blessed my family was individually by the team that the Lord sent over. One thing I had prayed for specifically was that each individual member of my family  would be ministered to in ways that they needed the most. ( The Lord did that for each of us recently with our revival meeting, and I desired that refreshing for them.) Dad and Mom both said this is the first time in their 35 years of ministry that a team has come to help and minister with them and to them. Of note, three of the people who ended up going were not originally intended to be there and took the place of someone else, but Mom said it could not have been a more perfect blend of personalities and abilities for what they needed. 
  I'm afraid I could go on and on in detail for a while, but that would make this way too long to write or read. So I'll do my best to summarize the highlights. 
   The meetings themselves went as planned with a good attendance both of the believers there, as well as some of their dear friends who have not yet come to know Christ. It has been a surprising and sweet phenomenon that my family has been welcomed and "adopted" by several families who are not believers. Some of these are important and influential men in the country. They have been building relationships  with these people and Dad said he feels that the Lord has begun breaking down some walls through this Bible conference. (Another direct answer to prayer.) 
  As a whole, the Word preached ( by several different preachers and through a translator/ preacher) was well received and blessed many, but the conference was not without its opposition. A couple of the preachers experienced some sickness, although thankfully they were still able to preach when it was their turn. Also, there was a Q&A session after each message that one person used to try to create trouble through hostile questions and challenges throughout the meetings. The Lord allowed all his questions and challenges to be met and answered with love and wisdom and grace. Instead of hindering the gospel, it merely served as an avenue for God's love to be shown in a very real and honest way.  ( 2 Thes. 3:1-2. Answered prayer.)
  You know it's been great when there just isn't enough time or space to share all the " little moments". When brethren have prayed and worshiped and served and laughed and wept together it creates lifelong bonds in Christ and in the gospel. "...an odor of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well pleasing to God."
   Thank you to each one of you who have labored with us in prayer this past week. You have been a part of the work in the most vital way possible. Please continue, the fight is still on. 

Romans 8:28

It is always a humbling source of awe and wonder to see the way the Lord works in our lives.
 Usually I see it in retrospect.
 But it never fails to fill me with a sense of both my own unworthiness and His powerful love. 
And as much as one would think we would never forget the details of these things, our human frailty all too often leaves us questioning His care when for brief moments we lose sight of where His hand is and what He is doing. Which is why I have to keep coming back to writing things down. 
 Recording them, if you will. There have been many times when it has felt useless or pointless to write stuff down because "I had nothing to say". Because I didn't even know what I was thinking myself and I certainly didn't want to invite anyone else to my muddled pity party of lost perspective. 
 But this isn't about me. Or my family. Or any one person or group of persons. This is all about God. And what He is doing and what He desires to do in us and through us for His glory. He desires that " all should come to repentance". He desires that we "be conformed to the likeness of His Son".  He desires for us to trust Him no matter what. Not just trust that He is all powerful, but trust that He cares about each one of us individually and that His purposes are being carried out even when we can't see how. And that He is working all things to our good in spite of what circumstances look like in the moment. 
 We've had some faith testing experiences this year. We were some of the many whose homes were flooded back in March.  Now, I'm not relating any of this in an attempt to elicit sympathy or pity but rather in order to record what God has done for us. If I was just telling about all we lost it could definitely seem discouraging. And I won't lie and say that it wasn't disheartening after 2 1/2 years of work to suddenly "lose" everything we had been working toward as well as a good percentage of our personal belongings.
  But God... 
He is the difference. He takes the discouraging and turns it into an account of His power and grace. He has shown Himself strong on our behalf in so many ways. There was an overwhelming outpouring of love and help from family and friends. There were some big things we were able to rescue ( like our brand new deep freeze) that were pretty essential. A few of the major appliances. A lot of the biggest power tools, etc. All of our electronics. There were many little things that helped encourage us early on. Then the process of trusting the "what next?" to the Lord was another challenge.  
 But let me just jump ahead and say that what we lost really can't be compared to what we have gained. In experiencing the Lord's provision. In learning how He is always faithful. In seeing how He cares. Yes, He Cares!  
 It wasn't a magical experience. It was hard and dirty and discouraging and slow. But the Lord never promised us easy, or convenient, or pain free. He promised to be with us. It might seem He's asleep in the back of the ship while there's a storm threatening to drown us, but even in that He is the Master of the wind and the seas. And He wants us to have faith in both His ability to handle the situation as well as His love for us. 
  They say there are levels to learning.  I believe there are levels to faith too. I would have said I firmly believed everything I've just written for a long time. But there is a level to my knowing now that wasn't there before. And it's been the same for each of us. It's been a strengthening experience for my children's faith too. They have seen the Lord provide and rescue and restore.  
 Just before moving back home we were able to take a family trip out to Colorado. It was primarily to be at Ed's brother's wedding, but ended up being a vacation we all desperately needed.  It will require its own separate blog post, but was yet another token, to us, of God's loving care.  And on returning from the trip we moved directly back to our homestead. 
  We have been home 2 months now and life seems normal again. (Although I'm not sure we will ever be "normal". ) We are richer than we were before. Not in material things, but in things that can't be measured or counted. 
 And just so you don't get the wrong impression, I haven't stopped wanting to fix the siding or paint the walls. But I don't want that to be all I focus on or think about. I'd like to continue to celebrate the little victories without having to see the whole picture.  Or even the big victories. 
  Speaking of big victories... This whole blog post got started by a conversation with my folks. And an update on specific answered prayer.  I'll let you read that update here if you are interested. 
 And I think that's enough writing on my part, for now.