Friday, April 27, 2007

Perfect Trust





There is no fear in trust. Perfect trust surrenders the fear of the unknown into the hands of One Who is able to bear it far more than ourselves.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Miracles In Copper Canyon - Pt. 5

Once again, I've been very tardy in continuing this narrative. I won't bore you with excuses, but I will promise that it will be completed at some point! This is installment #5, with one yet to come. Pt 1; Pt 2; Pt 3; Pt 4

Wednesday and Thursday were our two main days in the canyon, and because they were so similar, I'm going to lump them into one installment. Our mission there was to work on building a school dorm for the children in the surrounding mountain villages. Because many of them will have to travel long distances for school, a weekday place for them to stay is essential. The framework of this building was up, and our main goal was the lay the second story floor. Sound like an easy feat for 16 guys, two girls, and two full days to work? Well, we thought so too until we viewed the terrain around us. For some reason, we imagined that this school dorm was going to be nestled among a forest of perfect sized trees for making lumber. We would fell the trees, cut them up, and nail the boards down! Well, that's exactly how we did it, but the reality of the challenges ahead soon hit as we realized the nearest tree was a good 15 minute hike away! Some of them were over a mile away, and along terrain that was a chore just to drag yourself up, not to mention chainsaws and fuel!

The task was made the more difficult by the painful condition of our bodies. Every move was an effort, and was accompanied by the reminder of the hike we had the day before. Because our trek in involved both hiking up and down, there was scarcely a muscle spared. Merely the thought of intense physical labor was torture, but looking back now, it was that very labor that gave us the stamina to hike back two days later. If we had just sat around, nursing our tender bodies instead of continuing to stretch and exercise the hurting muscles, we would have stiffened up so badly and most likely would have been completely unable to walk back. The Lord certainly knew what we needed!

Laura and I didn't help a lot with the actual lumbering - most of the work was just too heavy . Instead, we stayed fairly busy hauling drinking water and gatorade up and down to the guys, carrying a bit of slabwood, and basically just running for this and that. Instead of bogging you all down with a bunch of technical details of the process that I would have a hard time explaining anyway, I'll let the pictures speak for themselves!


















One of the highlights of our next two evenings was the opportunity to make fresh lemonade. Fresh, as in squeezing lemons that had been picked off the trees only minutes before. Granted, it was an extremely labor intensive process considering the size of the lemons, and the absence of a lemon squeezer of any sort. I'll tell you though, it was the best tasting lemonade I had ever had! Two hours for five gallons of lemonade made it all that much better! Especially after the sweaty, hard day we had all had.


Some of the sweetest memories I have as a team are the evenings we sang together. The sun set fairly early in the canyon, and the couple hours we had under the small solar light in the schoolhouse were well spent lifting our voices to the One who had led us to such a remote part of the earth! Those who know me at all can testify that this is a passion in my life! Get me in a group that loves to sing and I could go for hours! (At least until my voice wears out!) :-)

Before crawling into my little tent those evenings, I couldn't help gazing for several minutes at the stars. Never in my life have I seen anything close to the majesty that was visible out there miles and miles away from any town. The milky way could be clearly seen, plus the common constellations I look at from home. Pondering the awesomeness and majesty of the God who created this tapestry was humbling, especially when I looked back over the past few days and pondered all that He had done for us. All the little miracles we had experienced, and were still experiencing pointed clearly to God's love and care for us. Why He should care so much is a question I don't think I will ever find an answer for. What He found in me that He deemed lovable and redeemable is a mystery I think I will be pondering for the rest of my life!

Stay tuned for the final installment!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Trust...

"It is by no means enough to set out cheerfully with your God on any venture of faith.Tear into smallest pieces any itinerary for the journey which your imagination
may have drawn up.
Nothing will fall as you expect.
Your Guide will keep to no beaten path.
He will lead you by a way such as you never dreamed your eyes would look upon.
He knows no fear,
and He expects you to fear nothing while He is with you."

-Unknown


It all comes down to trust - complete, steadfast, unmovable trust.
Trust that is rooted and grounded in the knowledge that He is good.
Always good.
His never failing mercy and love is an anchor in the storms.
Peace amidst turmoil.
Rest amidst questions.

Faithfulness when faced with adversity.
Steadfastness through doubt.
Unmoving trust is the anchor sunk deep in the promises of God.
Not in any ability we think to possess, in circumstances, or experiences, but in HIM.
For it is Him alone Who is worthy to receive the greatest gift possible of mankind.
Our complete surrender, unwavering trust, and undying love.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Through the eyes of a child

A balmy Sunday afternoon was luring me outside to enjoy it's inviting warmth and cheery sunshine. As I wandered around admiring my reappearing perennials, an idea struck a chord in my heart, and I remembered something I had wanted to do for a long time. Warmth, new tree buds, and a gradually disappearing winter begged for an afternoon spent taking pictures. I had wanted to head out for a "get lost on the back-roads" photo shoot for a long time, and my new camera was simply begging for more experimentation.

I envisioned myself quietly driving along, meandering my way along unexplored dirt roads, not merely finding an outlet for my love of photography, but also a quiet season of reflection and prayer away from the constant activity that goes along with a large family. Though just dipping my toes into the vast world of photography, I'm convinced that I would love it if only for the reason of what it does to my spirit. It's drawn my attention to details of God's creation that I never would have noticed before. Irresistibly, my heart is pulled heavenward as I ponder the awesome God behind the intricacies of the things He made for our pleasure and His glory!

No sooner had I voiced my desire to Dad and he had given his consent, when a little voice piped up, "Annie! I want to go too! I know I'm only nine, but don't you think if I start taking pictures now I'll be really good by the time I'm your age? Oh, Annie, I just love taking pictures! Can you please bring me with too? I can use the family camera. I know it's not very good, but maybe if I practice now, when I get big I can buy a nicer camera!..." and on and on went her enthusiastic speech.

My spirit immediately resented this intrusion. This was going to be my afternoon, my quiet, my peace, and my photo shoot. Out of all my siblings, this particular one is by far the most talkative. She thinks out-loud in every detail, and I knew her presence would completely eliminate any chance of a reflective ride.

The subject was dropped for a time, but soon I noticed with dismay that this sister was frantically searching all over the house for more rechargeable batteries to fill the camera with. Her ideas and excitement went on and on, and by this time, I was getting pretty irritated. I had as of yet, not given her the slightest hope, and yet her's were sky high. What would I do? Teach her the importance of not intruding and waiting for an invitation, or seize the opportunity for some relationship building?

Lunch was eaten, and I completed my preparations to leave. "Camera, tripod, extra batteries, owner's manual...." I mentally checked off. "Sister" was not in my list. I had determined by then that I deserved this afternoon alone, and no one was going to spoil it.

Despite my decision, I couldn't ignore the uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach as I headed out the door . After a bit more contemplation and prayer, I determined that not heeding that still small Voice would only make my afternoon more miserable, so why not take the unwanted intrusion with, and at least make the misery half. So my twisted thinking went....:-)

As an extremely happy and excited sister hopped into the passenger seat of our little blue car, I was surprised to find my attitude changing already. As we discussed which way to head, I silently prayed that God would give me the grace to throw my whole heart into this little soul, instead of a resentful obedience to what He had told me to do. No, I wouldn't have my quiet, but instead I had a precious opportunity to demonstrate the love and character of Christ to a tender and moldable heart. Who was I going to reflect? My selfish desires, or a loving Lord?


As we headed down a deeply wooded back road, her cheerful chatter lifted my spirit. Our first stop was a small, melting creek alongside the road which she helped point out. As I balanced myself on a flimsy log over the winding creek, she held her breath with me as I verbally hoped I wouldn't drop my camera in the water. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw her imitating my every move. Questions flowed, and I was amazed at how quickly she caught on to certain concepts. Comparing our pictures when we got home, I was astounded to see the similarity in what we both captured.

The bright sunshine, the pussy willows, the shadowed depths of wooded pastures, and the shining two eyes of this little girl perched beside me convinced me that this was what I really needed. I had somehow believed that the surrender of my will for that day would be a trial the whole way, and that it would test the very depths of my patience. Instead, I realized that whole-hearted obedience brought only overflowing joy and blessing. I can't imagine what I would have missed out on had I ignored that still small prompting. God knew what I needed, and He taught me a very important lesson of the true joy that accompanies self-sacrificing love. It is not a drudgery when done for HIM - it simply becomes a crown of blessings upon every step!

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Knowing the will of God

"As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God..." (Rom. 8:14)

Many people are always ready to ask,
"How can I know the leading of the Holy Spirit? I want to know God's will. I pray and seek, yet I cannot figure it out."

Often they want to know God's will in some perplexing situation. I always tell them that they begin at the wrong end. What does a little child do? He comes to his father and says,
"I want to be an engineer," so the father says, "Yes, my son, but you must learn a number of things before you can be an engineer." ...The father will point out that he must learn to add one, two, three, and so on, before he can be an engineer, and that it will take long time; he must master the simple things before he can go on the higher.

So, I say to the inquirer, the Holy Spirit want to lead you in the simpler things of daily life. He wants you to be spiritually minded every day. Then you will know the mind of the Spirit in special circumstances. If, in your daily life, you will say, "Lord let me know what my conduct today should be," then you will be prepared for understanding His leading in times of need.

...your whole life should bear the mark of being led by the Spirit, of being spiritually minded from moment to moment....

-Andrew Murray
The Spiritual Life

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The Unknown Path


Gazing into the misty darkness, my eyes strained to see the path ahead. Looming overhead were great trees, overshadowing the sunshine that once lit my way. A dense fog started to fall, clothing the trail before with it's ominous presence, until my eyesight was limited to just the very next step ahead. Behind, I could faintly hear the songs of birds in the sunny meadows - ahead, the laughter of those who's path seems to be more brightly lit than mine. There's seemed to be a joy quite elusive to my circumstances.

Questions flooded my heart as the unknown drew my imagination this way and that.

"Will I ever reach my destination? What is between here and there? How long does this darkness last? Which path is the correct one for my life? Am I capable of traveling it?"

These uncertainties beat in my breast, flooding my soul with their weighty doubts, and drawing my heart into an unwillingness to even take one more step forward. My eyes vainly tried to penetrate the darkness ahead, seeking even a small sign of what it held. Despite my best efforts, they only ended in frustration and discouragement at my inability to conquer the impossible.

Finding no relief there, my eyes finally fell on the Lamp that was given to me at the start of my journey. I was told that it would shed light on my pathway, so I gazed into it's depths, seeking an answer for the unnumbered questions that plagued my troubled brain. I find there a cry, ringing through the ages from one who had walked this same path.

"When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is higher than I."

A rock?"

A glimmer of hope appeared, as I contemplated the implications of such a sure foundation.

"What does this rock provide?

"For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock. And now shall mine head be lifted up above mine enemies round about me: therefore will I offer in his tabernacle sacrifices of joy; I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto the Lord."

"Sing? Joy? In this darkness? How could that be? "

Turning my lamp at yet another angle, I find this assurance reflected, dazzling my soul with it's bright promise.

"Thou wilt show me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures forevermore."

"Was I seeing correctly? When my heart was overwhelmed, I had but to flee to this Rock which would in turn give the needed light for my path, and joy on top of it? "

How quickly my heart had forgotten my Lamp's Giver's instructions to take all my burdens to Him. He told me it was the carrying of them that would make my path look bleak and joyless. He pressed upon me that He was willing and eager to keep me from struggling under this weight, and showed me the blood stained certificate that gave Him the right and ability to take the heaviest load off my back.

In earnest entreaty, and bitter remorse, my heart cried out to this Saviour who had provided so much for me.

"Unto Thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul. O my God, I trust in Thee: let me not be ashamed, let not mine enemies triumph over me. Yea, let none that wait on Thee be ashamed: let them be ashamed which transgress without cause. Show me Thy ways, O Lord; teach me Thy paths. Lead me in Thy truth, and teach me: for Thou art the God of my salvation; on Thee do I wait all the day."

Joy flooded my soul as His truth began to dawn on my heart. Joy is not affected by how bright or dim my path is. My circumstances need have no implications on my heart's condition. Joy - true, sweet, pure, overflowing joy, comes straight from a child-like trust and perfect confidence in the faithfulness and love of a Heavenly Father. This joy ignores the fog, and gazes instead at the face of One who dispels all doubt and fear.

Blown quietly on the damp breeze that once proved so painful, I hear the words echoed down throughout the ages...

"Good and upright is the Lord; therefore will he teach sinners in the way. The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he teach his way. All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth unto such as keep his covenant and his testimonies."

And my heart was satisfied ....

Thanks to Ryan for the photo