Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Self-portrait of a believer

Boy am I glad I didn't miss church again on Sunday for my long run. Doug and the whole Mwandi team were welcomed back from their mission trip and Doug's message this week hit home. Breaking away from Romans (he's been teaching in Roman's since January!) his message this week solidified the truth in my recent thoughts and prayers. He taught in the first chapter of Nehemiah. I read Nehemiah several months ago...but interestingly did not see this in Chapter 1. Follow me here: (Nehemiah 1:3-11)
(Nehemiah speaking to his brothers) I asked them about the Jewish remnant that survived the exile, and also about Jerusalem. They said to me, "Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire."
When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. Then I said, "...Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man."
I was cupbearer to the king.

My Translation:
I asked them about the survivors of the earthquake in Haiti and they said to me, "Those who survived are not well. They have little water and food and shelter. The cities and homes are destroyed."
When I heard these things I cried out loud and tears ran down my face. I mourned and fasted and prayed. Then I said, "Lord, I am your servant and I want to help. Show me what I can do.
I had money so I gave it to those in need.

Did that make sense? After listening to Doug speak on this, it amazed me how I could not see through this passage before and in the end how much sense it made to me. So broken down further it goes like this:
  • Step 1- ask the question, find out the need, listen to people and their cries for help
  • Step 2- empathize with the people, feel something, let their pain stir inside of you, emotionally attach yourself to the need. Don't just listen, letting it go in one ear and out the other, instead take ownership of the problem and care for the people. Weep and mourn and pray and fast.
  • Step 3- do something about it. Pray that God will show you how you can help and how he can use you.
  • Step 4- take stock of your abilities, positions, opportunities and strengths that may give you an advantage or show you how to help...in Nehemiah's situation, he was cupbearer to the king. What does that mean you ask...well, the cupbearer was a trusted servant of the king. He was responsible for ensuring the king's food was not poisoned. Because he was trusted, that strategically positioned Nehemiah to approach the king and ask him to send Nehemiah to rebuild Jerusalem.
So what questions are we asking and are we listening for the answers. What is going on around us that we need to open our eyes to and find a way to help. And where am I strategically placed to help? I used Haiti as one example...but there are so many ways to help the world around us...in our backyard, at our neighbor's, down the street, or across the world.

In one of my recent posts I started talking about how I wanted to get out and serve more. That I needed to "love in action". I am excited to seek out new opportunities to serve. I know that I am fearfully and wonderfully made, and God has strategically placed me that I will be able to help others. I just need to reflect on those things to find where he is calling me to serve.

I am assured that I am right where God wants me to be. I can feel it in my body, mind and spirit. I have had some really cool opportunities to meet some amazing people this week (at coaches training) and I even got to spend some time today with some amazing girls at a pep rally for Girls on the Run. Being at those events and meeting such passionate women and such true and inspiring girls reassures that my hard work is not wasted. That what I am doing is making a difference in people's lives. My relationships these past weeks are thriving, and my confidence is building, and my spirit is soaring. I think the closest I've been to heaven was just this morning in the car. I was just driving down the road reflecting upon how lucky and truly blessed I am, and maybe it was the David Crowder song in the background, or the cool breeze through the windows...but right there in the car I worshipped the Lord in a way I am not sure I have ever felt before. I just felt open, and free and happy. If just for a minute, it felt like heaven.

The feeling inspired these photos. I felt like such a dork taking them, but I wanted to capture that moment in time. I remembered the video to the David Crowder song I was listening to, and how he just stopped in the middle of the streets, and got on his knees and raised his arms to the Lord. And in that moment he worshipped. How free that must feel. Even in church I have a difficult time just raising my voice and my arms. I worry about how I will be judged. But today I realize that when we feel free to worship, we can stand right next to God and he will be pleased. Today I feel like I'm standing next to Him and that my path is straight and that he has plans for me and he will show me the way. "Use me God. Give your servant success today."

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