Excerpt from the Live Dead Prayer Journal. Day 6 written by Jennifer Brogden, Sudan.
“Suppose one of you has a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Will he say to the servant when he comes in from the field,’Come along now and sit down to eat’? Won’t he rather say, ‘Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink’? Will he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? So you also, when you have don’e everting you were told to do, should say. ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done’ our duty.'” Luke 17:7-10
Looking back, I had a handful of expectations that I thought were pretty realistic: I expected [Sudan] to be hot, hard, dusty and dry, resistant; I expected God to be faithful to His Word. Most of my expectations were met without delay. Daily temperatures over 105 degrees Fahrenheit for months on end, tears in my first Arabic lesson, huge walls of dust ushering in mere minutes of rainfall… and God was faithful to His Word.
He just wasn’t faithful in the way I expected Him to be.
I found it discouraging that language teachers weren’t interested in saying the sinner’s prayer after two years of life on life with them. Neighbors were kind and hospitable but not ready for a Bible study. Thoughts of Why am I here? and This isn’t what I signed up for started rapping in my brain.
…Everything in Sudan was exactly like I expected it to be. Hot, slow, difficult, daily battles in the spirit realm, conflicts within and without. Why was life such a struggle? Why couldn’t I be content and satisfied?
Because I’d forgotten that it was my part just to obey, that Jesus is my just reward- that He can do as He sees fit with me, my family, and the work in Sudan. Jesus makes every night without power and every delay over visas and permits worth it. And only Jesus makes it worth it.
I didn’t expect God to bring me all this way to change what He saw in me. But He has. I needed Sudan more than Sudan needed me, and I didn’t expect that. I thought God was bringing me to Sudan to change Sudan. I did not realize that His primary purpose was to expose all the junk in my heart and change me! I’m so grateful that in the “less” of ministry, as I thought it should be, I got more than I expected.
What do you expect dying to self will feel like? Do you think it will be pleasant? Painless? Problem free? What do you expect it to feel like when you live dead? Do you expect people to understand, support you, praise you, clap for you? Do you expect the devil to cheer and every demon in hell to yield to your noble aspirations? Do you expect to be welcomed or affirmed by your peers and understood by your parents? Do you expect people to get in line to support you financially? Do you expect that your plans will be changed, your timing delayed, and your will continually crossed? Do you expect to surrender once in an air-conditioned church, kneeling on a carpeted altar with a handy box of Kleenex perkily waiting to be plucked… and then from that point on to sail without contrary winds into God’s sheltered will? Or do you expect God to wring the self out of you in a painful and lengthy process using circumstances and shattered expectations- and then surprise you with how good it feels to have His image stamped deeply into yours.