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Fighting To Surrender

In the kingdom of God, surrender is fought for. The cost must be counted, and the yes must be found valuable enough to strengthen. Are we willing to invest our hearts in the battle even at great personal cost, for the sake of walking worthy of the calling we have received?  

When I got to the destination of my second midterm trip, things did not go as I expected. My first midterm I loved, in fact I would consider those months some of the best times of my life so far. Yet, my second mid term did not contain the instant ecstasy and joy I anticipated. Subconsciously I had begun to expect that if God was in it, then surely it would come easy. I expected it to be easy and to feel glorious like the first time. Yet it was not easy. Here is an excerpt from my journal. “It’s only two days in, but I don’t like it yet. In the natural, this place isn’t a good fit for me. I’m tired, disappointed, discouraged and I just plain don’t like it here so far.” To my dismay these feelings dragged into the tript longer and longer.  

I loved the location of my first midterm, so there was a strong temptation to compare or settle into disappointment. But a wise man once said comparison is the thief of joy. It may not have been what I expected, but often the biggest moments of growth come from unexpected places. Sometimes we learn more in the difficult than we learn in the easy because it forces us to get over our self-reliance and express our dependence on God. Maybe God was looking to test my yes to Him and my willingness to go anywhere.

I found it easy to look at the difficulties. I am an introvert, I get anxious in crowds and cities, and so being thrust into a global city with constant noise and chaos was overwhelming to say the least at first. I craved silence and the feeling of being totally alone. But maybe God wanted me to practice what I preach, and let my peace be more rooted in Him than in my circumstances. Maybe God brought me there because He was looking for a context to weed out roots of self-reliance and pride that had been hiding in my heart. So it was hard, but maybe God was looking to teach me that hard does not have to equate unfruitful or not worthwhile. Maybe I needed to learn to have a bad day and still be able to with confidence say it is well with my soul. In the chaos of the city I found a God whose peace was bigger than the storm. In the end it was more than worth it all.

There came a time on the trip that I had to make a choice. I could not keep expecting my joy to return only when my circumstance changed, and I could not keep serving God without a heartfelt love for the people I was ministering to. But my heart was stubborn. I wanted to love them and enjoy it, but try as I may, I could not conjure up feelings of love for the place or the people. I could not guilt myself into sincerity. I had to surrender all of my feelings and expectations, and fall into the embrace of my Father. I had to confess my weakness and dependence on Him. At the end of the day, I only had one choice. It all came down to, do I say yes or no. I am either fully in or I don’t play the game. Christ gets everything, or He gets nothing. If I conditioned my yes to whether or not I like it or feel it suits me, then I would be merely be saying yes to my own comfort and not to the glory of God. I could no longer dictate to God what saying yes to Him must look or feel like. I was either going to live fully surrendered to Him or I was going to live for myself, because living surrendered until I think I know better is merely using God. So every day I would wake up needing to choose again to love, and love says yes. Love necessitates a fully surrendered, unconditional yes.

So I committed to wrestle with the yes and fight to live surrendered. Every day I got on my knees and on my face and asked God to change my heart. I told Him that no matter the cost, no matter what I felt, and no matter what it looked like I would choose to say yes to Him. I asked Him to show me what He felt for nation in which I lived. And the strange thing is, once I said yes, I began to love the people of the land. Individual by individual God began to change my heart.

There would be moments when Holy Spirit would bring to my mind images of my Jesus on a cross. And in those moments I would break. In those moments everything I did or did not feel would shatter. I found that more than I loved a feeling, I love my Jesus. It is not okay that the nation I was in did not sing to Him. When I think of my Jesus hanging on a cross everything changes. He is enough. He is always enough. Within this revelation I found my heart began to overflow with emotions deeper than words can express. The worth and beauty of Jesus birthed a joy in a my soul that nothing in the world can compare to. No amount of worldly comfort, satisfaction, self-pity or even grandeur can compare to the glory of His face. When I said yes, when time after time I got on my knees and surrendered, He would come and take my face in His hands and meet my gaze. As I would look into His face, the childishness of the moments before would begin to dawn on me. Oh how hard I felt I fought, how grand I thought my efforts, when in reality I had done nothing in comparison to what He had first done for me. My battle to say yes was nothing more than letting go of filthy slime in exchange for a treasure greater than I could ever have imagined.

It is this revelation that will sustain me and keep me from burnout. It is his revelation that will teach me to rest and be still even in the midst of the chaos of a city far from God. It is this revelation that will keep me steadfast for 5, 10, 20 and even 90 years. It is this revelation that will keep peace and hope rooted in my soul no matter what is against me. It is this revelation that will sustain me regardless of what my eyes may see.

It is good to learn that an unconditional yes is something that is fought for. Both in its establishment and in the maintaining it is worth the cost. But in the end what I most learned, that as much as we fight to surrender we will never fight as hard as He Himself has fought for us. As much as we work to give Him a yes that is wholehearted and unconditional, we work knowing that He first gave us His yes and His all. We give all knowing that what we get is greater than what we give, for we can never outgive God. He is worthy of it all.

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The Song Of The Birds

“The flight of the birds invites an entire nation to rise in the heights to meet its Creator through a new song.

The song of the birds awakens our souls; a song that invites us to unite in a melody of adoration and gratitude to the only God who opens the heavens to offer us a new day.

The song that has been inspired by the true God, the song that is not distracted by dark melodies.

The sun is appearing, reflecting only a glimpse of the glory of a great God, while the birds are preparing for a long day because a great fishing is coming. And they with their song have already prepared the perfect atmosphere for the fishermen, who launch their nets with expertise. They are very confident that the Captain has patiently prepared his boat to receive the most varied and gigantic fish.

This friendly harmony between birds, fishermen and the Captain of the boat produces an exquisite confidence.

A security that you will only find when you get on the boat of the One who extends his helping hand. When you look at Him and you recognize that the captain will take you to the right place and to a safe harbor.

It does not matter how strong the coming storm is, if the rudder will always be in the powerful hands of the Captain. And if you fall in very deep waters His net will be ready to rescue you.

During this great day, the birds continue to soar the heights, strengthening those who in the fishing boat are waiting for the movement of the waters. Sometimes the birds point out the place to find fish, other times they are fishing themselves.

At the end of the day, the Captain continues to guide and the fishermen are very grateful to see their nets full.

This is the moment where birds look for trees to rest on; leafy trees which serve as shelter and food. Trees with firm roots and strong branches where they can find rest.

The birds find only a few trees but the Captain shows them in the distance a fertile land with the promise that this fertile land will give them strong trees.

This promise makes the birds take flight and its song fills the atmosphere. The catch of fish is increasing and while it is increasing, thousands of birds appear to join in the song. More fishermen are ready to join into the great catch. The Captain smiles, and looking towards the fertile land, he finds that enough trees have already grown to give shade to the thousands of  birds that have joined us in this journey.”

I wrote this while observing the city I have been living in for placement.

One of the things that touched my heart in my first week in this city was the call to prayer.
The sound of this call transmits hopelessness, it sounds like a lament that oppresses the entire city.

I realized that at the end of the song the birds around began to sing very loudly and I felt like God in His perfect design surrounded this city with waters birds, fish, dogs, cats and all these represent His beautiful creation.
That same creation conveys hope and does not remain silent.

I felt that God in His mercy is building together with all His creation a new song directed towards Him who is the only one worthy of adoration.

When I survey the sea, boats, and fishermen surrounding the city, I imagine Jesus in a boat as captain preparing every detail of a wonderful fishing of souls.

The song of the birds brought to my mind the army of worshipers that God is raising in this nation to manifest His Presence.
The fishermen make me think of every worker willing and ready to spread the good news of salvation. The few trees reminded me of the need for many teachers and pastors who can take care of the worshipers and of course the new souls added by God.
While observing the city, I thought about the privilege of being able to participate in this journey, believing that the perfect government of God is approaching this nation.

Thinking about all this, I believe that though my trip has been long, I have arrived at the place where God has called me to join His eternal purposes in this specific time and hour.
The center of God’s will will always be the best place to be.

And this poetic writing was what flowed from my mind.

 

Ligia Ossa, MAPS Student

The Lord’s Faithfulness Never Ceases

 

From the moment of our arrival we have seen time and time again demonstrations of the Lord’s faithfulness. I will never forget the first week that we were here, going to church Sunday evening and seeing so many familiar faces. One of those faces came up to me after the service and re-introduced herself, we had met a few months before at a prayer event that they have here every year and there I had prayed for her. She had been married for many years, but had never been able to have children, she then pointed down to her stomach to reveal a baby bump, she was three months pregnant, that was the exact amount of months since I had seen her last and had prayed for her to have children. There are many more testimonies that can accompany that one from this trip alone. The Lord is moving in this region and is revealing His faithfulness to those that call upon His name.

 

The very fact that the local church has only been around for 10 years and has grown dramatically during those years is amazing. In one generation this region has gone from having no evangelical church expression to now having multiple churches in the same area is a sign and a wonder in and of itself.
Every person here has a story that is filled with tales that can be made into movies and written into books. From having to flee their native country in the middle of the night, literally dodging bullets while running away, to having their own families give them death threats because of their choice to follow Christ. But through it all the Lord has been ever present keeping and preserving a people who are willing to sacrifice everything for His sake. And as they keep making the daily choice of saying yes, no matter what the circumstance there is a hope and confidence that the Lord’s faithfulness indeed never ceases.

 

-Leah Grace, MAPS Leader