Wednesday, May 21, 2014

God's Masterpiece

To some degree, I resemble the lady on the unicorn. I can understand why I might be viewed in that way. As a children's writer, I live in a fantasy world much of the time. And, I'm quite content to be there. I might not be thought of as a work of art but rather a "piece of work." Smile here. But, I am a work of art, God's work of art. And, so are you! But, what my neighbor once accused me of being totally shattered my world at the time.

A knock at my door. I opened it to find my neighbor from across the hall glaring at me with malice in her eyes. She came to say, "You are such a phony. No one could smile as much as you do and be real."

True story. We were in our last semester of our missionary training when my neighbor, a new student and young mother, felt led of God to minister to me on a biblical principle she had just discovered. Matthew 18:15 says, "If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained a brother." (ESV)

At the time, I wished she'd kept that verse to herself, but God knew the exact words I needed to grow in Him.

The conversation went something like this. My neighbor blurted, "How can you smile so much? I watch you every day and there it is--that smile. Get real! This missionary training is the pits. How can you be happy here?"

My reply, "Thank you for sharing that with me. I'll work on it." Although, seconds later a not so nice thought crept in––Wow lady, you're some piece of work. Then, quickly confessing that thought because in my heart I knew she was God's work of art, and He was trying to teach me something through her.

And, work on it I did. My heart was bruised and my ego too. For the next few weeks, I walked around campus with a straight face. Have you ever tried not to smile? When a fellow student greeted me, I puckered my face, mumbled a reply, and tried to not be that phony person my neighbor detested. I became a complete phony while trying not to show my glistening teeth to anyone. After a few horrible weeks, I realized what a phony I had become by not smiling.

God had no intention for me to stop smiling. It wasn't a sin to smile, but He did teach me to not be a people pleaser but rather to please Him. By being ourselves, we allow God to chisel out our areas that need to be tweaked by Him. Then and only then, are we free to be all He wants us to be and shine for Him in our own unique way.

Psalm 139:14 "I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well."

God didn't want me to quit smiling, but He did want me to be sensitive to the needs of others––especially my neighbor. She became a good friend when I noticed she wasn't smiling and needed a friend to help her through the difficult time she was going through with young children and the pressures of classes and homework. I listened to her, and she gained a friend (brother). I didn't need to quit smiling, but she did need a friend. And, I needed to learn how to be a friend.  God used me just as I was––fearfully and wonderfully made––and smiling.

How about you? What attributes has God given you to bless others? We are all fearfully and wonderfully made. He has a purpose for each of us so that the world will see His wonderful works through us and turn to Him. Even if people see you as delusional––riding a unicorn––or phony because you smile too much, He has a purpose for you and will use you because you are fearfully and wonderfully made. So be yourself! Allow God to use you––just the way He made you. Ephesians 2:10 says, "We are God's workmanship," the Greek word for workmanship means work of art. We are His work of art! Thank Him for planning each detail of His creation––His masterpiece––YOU!

"Don't change so people will like you. 
Be yourself and the right people will love the real you." ~ author unknown

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Our Bumps are In His Grip

"Don't panic. I'm with you. There's no need to fear for I am your God. I'll give you strength. I'll help you. I'll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you." Isa. 41:10 (MSG)

My year started out with a bump. A small bump on my head developed into a small tumor––thankfully benign. It caused me to ponder what the next steps would have been if the results had been different. When I look at the tiny bald spot now growing into a crew-cut spot, I am reminded that we aren't promised tomorrow. That bump has motivated me to once again cherish every day as I feel His grip––a firm grip.

Then, just last week, came another bump–-this time on my eyelid. "I'm with you," echoed in my heart. To remove it, I had to be admitted to the clinic again. Benign, again! Whew, thank you, Lord! What next?

This week, our Golden, Jake developed a bump on his neck. Another bump! Three years ago, Jake had an aggressive cancerous tumor removed from his tail. He's been doing fine until this week. I was already concerned about our animals since we will be leaving Bolivia this month for a five month furlough. The bump turned out to be a calcium deposit, not another cancerous tumor. What was God trying to tell me through the bumps? Maybe, "Don't panic, I've got this!"

Leaving Bolivia is never easy for me. But, the joy that waits on the other end motivates me to pack and step foot on that plane. Oh, did I mention I don't like to fly either? Missionaries don't have extraordinary powers or sail through life as if on a magic carpet. However, they have an extraordinary God who gives them strength and power to do His will. His Word says, "I'll help you."

These bumps seem like baby bumps after the fact, but going through them I felt like they were big bumps. But, our God is bigger than any bump life can bring, and He holds us steady through them.

One other bump has occurred here at our mission base, Rumi Rancho. This bump makes it hard for us to leave Bolivia at this time, but furlough is set in motion and it's been four years since our last furlough. Time to go.

This one is a joyous nine month Baby Bump. Our Quechua couple who lives here on the property with us will welcome a gift from heaven on June 10th. Juan and Amelia will need lots of prayer as they welcome a new baby and at the same time have the responsibility of the ministry while we are gone. But we know God will help them, and  He'll hold them steady as we head to our homeland on May 28th.

We are blessed by God's promise that through the bumps, He has a firm grip on us––He holds us steady!