Sometimes my motivation for blogging and interacting with the online world gets so muddled. I’ve come to love blogging and having an outlet to write. And while it brings me much joy, there are times when the battle inside me rages and I am bombarded with the ways that blogging highlights my many weaknesses. Nearly every area of weakness in my life gets targeted when my focus is not where it should be with writing: comparison, insecurity, jealousy, selfish ambition, pride, discontent. Oh golly, when I look at that list, it’s enough to discourage me from ever writing another post. It would sure be easier. But somewhere deep down inside, there is the hope of Truth that while I am weak, His grace is sufficient, and His power is made perfect in my weakness. And hopefully, prayerfully, He can sift through all of my wrong motivations and twisted desires for fame to use it for His glory, His fame.
Lately I’ve realized that a very simple prayer has been absent from my life recently. It’s a prayer that has been blanketed in genuinely praying for “His will to be done”, but the delight and pure desire to please Him has been absent from those prayers. It used to be a desire within my heart that made its way through my lips as I talked to Jesus. Lord, I want to be pleasing to you. Without faith, it is impossible to please God. He knows, He knows very well that over the past five or so years, I have put my hands out in arm’s length out of fear of what He’ll ask of me, out of fear of what the Lord will allow me to face. So of course, why wouldn’t the desire to please Him slip ever so slowly and subtly out of my heart when I lack the faith to trust Him, to believe that He is good all the time and that He desires my good? Over the last few weeks it has come to my attention that I have been out to please myself, and it has masked itself deceitfully in a way of wanting to protect myself…from Him.
Everything from the books I’m reading (The Mark of the Lion series and Radical), to the Bible study I’m doing on Believing God, to friends and family I get to share life with, to some of the blogs I read, they are all things the Lord is using to bring me back to Himself, to strip me of my fear and to replace it with the desire to live for His pleasure…to live by faith.
You know the Compassion bloggers trip to Guatemala I’ve written about? I’ve wanted to encourage them and pray for them so much! I’ve known about bloggers trips before, but for some reason, there has been a special tug on my heart for this trip. So I’ve read nearly all of the four bloggers’ posts about their last few days in Guatemala and their experiences getting to meet their sponsor children. For those unfamiliar with Compassion, Amanda gives a great summary of the organization here, and I will borrow some of her words:
In a nutshell, Compassion International is a child development organization that serves over one million children worldwide. Six hundred thousand sponsors are currently partnering with this organization to rescue children from poverty in Jesus' name. Compassion's aim is to be an advocate for children, to release them from their spiritual, economic, social and physical poverty, and enable them to become responsible and fulfilled Christian adults. This is largely achieved through monthly financial support from one sponsor to one child.
The adrenaline pumping in me after reading some of the posts cannot be explained other than that Jesus has been a part of their trip! There’s no other reason for the sheer joy and excitement (all the while challenging me in my faith) I have over what the Lord has done in and through this team the past week. I heard about Compassion a number of years ago but last year, we decided to become sponsors to Rubina, whom I wrote about in my last post. I wanted to be a sponsor, however, with mixed motives once again. There was such and such a blogger who was a Compassion blogger, and then this one, then that one, and well, it just seemed to be the ‘cool’ thing to do among the community of bloggers with whom I was interacting.
Over the past year, we’ve enjoyed corresponding with Rubina but haven’t been great at praying for her. The Lord has used the Guatemala trip to rekindle in me a desire to please Him with our interactions, prayer and support for Rubina! Through the posts of the team, I have a better understanding of Compassion at large; their commitment to work with local churches; the emotional, physical, and spiritual support they are for families. In the case of Guatemala, they helped several families rebuild homes after Hurricane Agatha. I read about children who can’t wait to write their sponsor, if only their sponsor would take the time to write them first so they could start corresponding. I read about children whose lives have been eternally changed because of the relationship between them and their sponsor through letters. There is such joy in receiving letters, both for the children and the sponsors!
I know you all don’t have time to go back and read the bloggers’ posts. But please permit me to share with you a few of the nuggets that grabbed my heart.
Lisa-Jo at The Gypsy Mama:
Our letters are more important than our money. Our words more valuable than our automatic withdrawals. And we can change the course of history by investing in the person instead of just the payment plan.
Did you know that Compassion sets up a way to be a letter corresponder to children who have sponsors but no communication!? I had no idea, but I think that shows the heart of Compassion is more about relationship than just sending money. Maybe you’re interested?
Ann Voskamp at A Holy Experience wrote a post that contained the following quotes:
…Compassion is more than bread and a blanket; its ultimately the beliefs of a man that will save him. Walfred will have to hide the Jesus words, wear them as armor, to survive the crime of this place, to avoid the gangs that kill 16 people everyday in the city of Guatemala, to climb out of this pit and this is why Compassion does everything in Jesus' name.
About a family who the team visited because the local pastor said they needed particular encouragement:
Compassion is more than funds --- it's about a family that holds you tight when you are slipping. That knows your name and your needs and never gives up on you. That believes in Jesus and believes in His good life in this place, in you --and affirms you -- and does this in all in Jesus' name.
About a young boy who was falling into disrespectful and rebellious behavior because of bad examples in shanty town who was changed through Compassion’s Child Development Program with mentors that modeled Christ’s love and life to him:
Compassion is more than giving money from our pockets --- it's about giving moral and spiritual mentors to communities where desperate poverty leaves the door wide open for stalking Satan to come stealing in.
Ann writes a great summation:
How does my theology press through the grid of this geography? How does my faith in a land of iphones and ipods and ipads respond to a whole city of people in ramshackled tin and relentless rain washing them away? Because whether consciously or not, intentionally or not --- faith is always responding. Either with indifference or with intercession, either with apathy or aid. Faith cannot have a non-response. Once we have seen, we are responsible --- we will make a response. One way or the other.
And I still encourage you to read her post, “How to Make Your Life an Endless Celebration”.
Amanda at Baby Bangs got to experience pure joy meeting her sponsor child, Stefanie, and her family! If you choose just to read one post, you’ve got to read this! I can’t do the post justice picking out a few nuggets.
Last but not least, Lindsey at Lindsey Nobles has a great point for all of us to ponder:
There are no lack of someones to love in my life. They might not come in the package I expected. But they are here. They are there. They are everywhere. If I would just open my eyes. Are you ready to stop asking God why and when and start asking him how and whom?
Their final posts about their trip will be published tomorrow morning here, so you’ll have to read them to glean your own nuggets <grin>. Undoubtedly, there will be some. Each of these bloggers stepped out in faith to go to Guatemala. Each of them probably had their own challenges and anxieties about getting on that plane. But they still went, in Jesus’ Name, and oh, how I know He’s taken such pleasure in them this week! He’s sure used their team in my life, too. I wish I could see each of them personally as they landed back in the U.S. to give them hugs and to tell them how much, even from afar, their trip has impacted my life.
Along with the other things and people I mentioned above that have been shaping me, this team has served as a reminder of how much Jesus loves the unlovely, the poor, the outcast, our enemies, those who curse us, the lonely, the ones with messy lives. I know I’m a mess myself and sometimes I’m so unwilling and scared to love on others out of fear of taking on some of their mess, too. But as I’ve had the honor of encouraging and praying for the team and reading through the Guatemala posts, I’ve been heavily struck by how much God is in the center of loving others (it’s what He commands us to do, after all). He takes such pleasure in it and is deeply honored by it. Maybe you’d like the opportunity to love one of the least of these, too?
Lord, strip me of my fear to love You with my whole heart and to love others well, in Your Name. Keep stirring in me a desire to live to please You. Take my mixed motives, my messy life, and my inadequate words and use them for Your glory. You are everything, Jesus.