Tag Archives: God’s love

Beautiful Things

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This is something I found a while ago, and I’ve just been saving it for a rainy day.  I am just winding down the second of two intense weeks at work.  It’s nice to breath and watch a few minutes of creativity.  This makes me think of several of my students who are doodlers like I was when I was a teenager.  I wish I could give this song to each of them.  {Hearts to you kids!}

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I see you

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I wrote this article last summer for an on-line newsletter about women in ministry.  I was under contract not to publish it anywhere until the newsletter published it first.  Now that they finally used it, I can share this story too.  If you want to see the original page, go here.

I could feel my palms sweat and the index cards in my hands tremble. Taking a deep breath, I slowly recited my Bible verse in Spanish to my conversation partner, Sujen. As a new missionary on the field, three times a week this young Nicaraguan woman would come to my house to teach me how to clean my ceramic floors or how to cook the perfect chicken and rice dinner. And three times a week this introverted missionary would be pushed to my conversational limits by having a Spanish speaker in my house. It was way beyond my comfort zone, but I pushed myself even further.

One day after practicing my Bible verse with Sujen, she casually told me that she was having marital problems. She asked me if I thought prayer would help. I said, “Of course!” With my 3 months of Spanish, I said a simple prayer for Sujen and her husband Jimi. When I opened my eyes, Sujen was crying. I was shocked that the Holy Spirit could do anything with my pitiful little vocabulary – my loaves and fishes’ sack lunch. Right there in my kitchen, I prayed with Sujen to accept Jesus into her heart.

Soon after, Sujen invited my family over to her house for lunch. We followed her directions to the entrance of a little alley where she met us and lead us back through a maze of make-shift houses. Her house consisted of one small living room with a kitchen divided off by a curtain, one bedroom, and a small bathroom with the only running water coming from a pipe shoved through the wall. Her “kitchen sink” was a cold water tap shared by several neighbors just a few steps outside her house. She considered herself fortunate to have running water so “conveniently” placed near her kitchen.

I sat humbly on a stool in her kitchen watching and listening as she taught me to make tortillas by hand. It was such an awesome thing for me to feel the love of God radiating from Sujen towards me. I was the missionary – the one who was supposed to be blessing her – and on that day I felt God shine His love on me through her. There was nothing in her background that could have prepared her to accept a foreigner. Nothing taught her the patience she would need to converse with someone just learning Spanish. No one could have prepared her to be my friend, but God had glued us together somehow, and we were both blessed by the relationship.

I was blessed with her trust when she showed me her wedding photo album. I was blessed with her intimacy when she opened up a well-loved box of photos. With tenderness and a few tears quickly wiped away, Sujen showed me the birth certificates of two baby boys, both stillborn. I saw little faded footprints stamped onto the treasured pieces of paper. I saw a glimpse into her pain. I saw her mother’s heart. I saw her.

After my visit to Sujen’s house, I struggled to put the experience down on paper for my interaction report that week in language school. It was more than just a cultural experience for me. After reading aloud the first few paragraphs, my Spanish disintegrated, and I dissolved into tears under the weight of the kindness I felt from Sujen. I simply lacked the vocabulary to describe it.

In English, I apologized to my teacher. I said, “I just don’t have the words to describe how much it meant to me that she invited me into her home, and that she loves me like that!”

My teacher had such a tender heart. She told me, “But April, we see who you are in your heart. And we can tell that God’s love is there even if you don’t have the right words to say in Spanish.” After that, I began to relax in the knowledge that God’s love was indeed shining out through the cracks in my paltry Spanish and my nervous, introverted social habits.

We don’t need to worry so much about being missionaries who want to save the whole world. Instead we need to see ourselves as women with the love of God in our hearts, just looking for friends with whom to share His love.

 

 

On a Short Leash

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I was raised in a pastor’s home.  That makes me a PK, a Pastor’s Kid.  Some people say that Pastors’ kids are the worst kids they know.  In some cases, I would agree with that, but in my case I have to disagree.  I was a pretty good kid, wanting to please my parents.  But even then, I have always felt like God has kept me on a very short leash.  Even when I WANTED to do something bad, I never got away with it.  I got caught every time!!

For that reason, to this day I am a terrible liar.  Wait, I mean I am terrible AT lying.  Even if I try to tell a lie, people can see through me every time.  This means that I cannot for the life of me keep a secret from my husband.  He just looks me in the eye, asks me a direct question, then laughs at my NON-poker face.  George Washington has nothing on me!  “I cannot tell a lie.”

So it kind of bothered me when I was younger that I didn’t have some fantastic testimony of being saved out of some horrible, rebellious way of life.  As a matter of fact, my testimony is kind of dull, in comparison to others.  But one year I went to a camp for pastors’ kids and my perspective changed.

At the camp, other PKs were giving their testimonies about how they had gone through some kind of rebellious period and how God brought them back.  I was having testimony-envy until an older girl took the microphone.  Very simply put, she said, “I have never had a time of rebelling against my parents or God.  I have loved the Lord ever since I was a little girl.  My testimony is the evidence of God’s power to KEEP me.”  And my world was shaken!

God has kept me.  He has carefully watched over me ever since I was a baby.  He has guarded me from bad company.  He didn’t let me run wild.  He has hedged me in to keep me on the path that He chose for me.  Yes, my choices have been more limited, but my heart has not grown hard through sampling the “delights” of the world.  Like a precious and valuable exotic flower, I have been kept in God’s greenhouse, sheltered from the frost and wind.  I have been kept.  How awesome is that!

In God’s power, I can brag.  I am not the only one who has been kept by God.  Think of David, Joseph, Moses, Samuel, Mary, Timothy who were all kept from a young age.  God is powerful and able to preserve you from evil.

“From birth I was cast upon you; from my mother’s womb you have been my God.”  Psalm 22:10

“For you have been my hope, O Sovereign Lord, my confidence since my youth… Since my youth, O God, you have taught me, and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds.  Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come.”  Psalm 71:5, 17-18

The Parable of the Ant Girl

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Once upon a time there was a girl who had a strange obsession with ants.  It’s a good thing she lived in Costa Rica where ants out number humans a billion to one.  There just so happened to be a huge ant hill right outside of her front door.  This was a stroke of fortune for the Ant Loving Girl!

Every day she would spend hours upon hours sitting by the ant hill watching her beloveds go in and out, busy at their work, oblivious to her presence.  She would often take a sandwich out with her as she watched the busy ants, and she would carefully sprinkle the crumbs around the hill right where the ants were bound to find them.  When it rained she stood over the ant hill with an umbrella, protecting the ant world from certain destruction.  And every time she went in and out of her own house, she was careful to step OVER the ant hill and not step on a single ant.

One day she let a little ant crawl up her toe, up her foot and further up her leg.  It tickled, so she put her finger down into the path of the ant and it crawled up onto her hand.   She carefully examined the ant as it crawled all over her hands and arms, completely oblivious to the power of life and death that the girl held in the very hands over which it crawled.  “This ant can never understand what a great love I have for him.  He can never comprehend how much of a superior being I am.  He can never even begin to grasp the magnitude of my thoughts towards him.  He’s just an ant.  He doesn’t know the person who provides him with food, protection and shelter.  He has no idea how many times I have spared his life by not stepping on him.  He’s just a puny ant compared to me.”

In that moment, the girl realized that the only way she could possibly communicate her love to this colony of ants would be to magically become an ant herself.  Then she could go to the ant world and communicate in ant language.  She would try to explain to them what a Girl is. She would try to detail how they had been cared for by the Girl.  Even then, it would be hard for the ants to understand because ant brains are so small and their language is so limited.  But she could try.  Some would believe in the Girl, others would be skeptical, and others would out right deny the existence of Girls.  But she had to try to tell the ants the wonderful news about her great love for them.

So because this is a story, one day the girl magically turned into an ant and embarked on her mission to communicate with her beloved ants.  For a while, her story was a novel curiosity for the ants and it provided a nice break from their daily work.  But there were many ants who just could not comprehend what this new ant was trying to say.  They just couldn’t bend their little brains around the idea of such a superior being, let alone accept the idea that they have been unwitting benefactors of the great kindness of something called a Girl.  But then there were some who felt like the message of love brought real meaning to the grind of their everyday lives.  They felt like they had individual value beyond just pushing dirt around like a bunch of slaves.

But the story took a shocking turn the day that the soldier ants, sent to protect the colony, discovered this intruder ant-girl distracting ants from their work.  The soldier ants killed the ant-girl.

The next day it rained.  Giant drops of rain fell from the sky like they never had before and completely destroyed the ant hill.  “What have we done!?!”  cried the ants is despair.  “We’ve killed the Girl.  Now we are doomed.  We are left exposed to the elements and we are running out of food.  We should have believed her.”

In some stories the magic wears off after midnight.  So sometime in the wee hours of the dawn, the girl awoke in her own human bed once more.  She thought about all that had happened down in the ant colony.  She decided that even though the ants had rejected her, for the sake of the few who had believed in her, she would continue to watch over the ant colony… because she loved them.

“For God so loved the world that he sent his one and only Son that whoever believed in Him would not perish, but have eternal life.”  John 3:16

What does Love look like?

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I hope this touches someone today.  This is a beautiful song by Misty Edwards called “Arms Wide Open.”  When you ask yourself those deep, soul-searching questions like “What does Love look like?” and “How will I know love when I see it?”  That is the time to look at Jesus.  The Jesus was the embodiment of God’s love for us.  It was his plan from the beginning, to die for love.  That’s why he came- to spread his arms wide open in love for you, and to die for you.  Jesus’s love is my example of how to love deeply, sacrificially and selflessly.  That kind of love changes people.

Here are the lyrics to the song “Arms Wide Open” and a link to the song on youtube.  The video is nothing special, so just listen and read along with the lyrics.

Arms Wide Open- By Misty Edwards

“What does love look like?” is the question I’ve been pondering
“What does love look like?”
“What does love look like?” is the question I’ve been asking of You

I once believed that love was romance, just a chance
I even thought that love was for the lucky and the beautiful
I once believed that love was a momentary bliss
But love is more than this
All You ever wanted was my attention
All You ever wanted was love from me
All You ever wanted was my affections, to sit here at Your feet

Then I sat down, a little frustrated and confused
If all of life comes down to love
Then love has to be more than sentiment
More than selfishness and selfish gain

And then I saw Him there, hanging on a tree, looking at me
I saw Him there, hanging on a tree, looking at me
He was looking at me, looking at Him, staring through me
I could not escape those beautiful eyes
And I began to weep and weep

He had arms wide open, a heart exposed
Arms wide open; He was bleeding, bleeding

Love’s definition, love’s definition was looking at me
Looking at Him, hanging on a tree
I began to weep and weep and weep and weep

This is how I know what love is, this is how I know what love is

And as I sat there weeping, crying
Those beautiful eyes, full of desire and love

He said to me, “You shall love Me, You shall love Me
You shall love Me, You shall love Me”

With arms wide open, a heart exposed
With arms wide open, bleeding, sometimes bleeding

If anybody’s looking for love in all the wrong places
If you’ve been searching for love, come to Me, come to Me
Take up your cross, deny yourself
Forget your father’s house and run, run with Me
You were made for abandonment, whole-heartedness
You were made for someone greater, someone bigger, so follow Me
And You’ll come alive when you learn to die