Friday, July 27, 2012

Not My Will, But Thine...

“Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” Luke 22:42

This verse is taken out of the passage in Luke where Jesus is in the garden of Gethsemane.  He is about to be betrayed by Judas and knows that the following events will lead to his crucifixion on the cross.  John MacArthur writes about this verse that this "...was a perfectly normal expression of his humanity that he shrank from the cup of divine wrath...But even though the cup was abhorrent to him, he willingly took it, because it was the will of the Father.  In this prayer, he was consciously, deliberately, and voluntarily subjugating all his human desires to the Father's perfect will."

And how often do we recite this verse in our head or in our prayers or let it roll off our lips during a difficult time?  I know I have been thinking and praying this over the last several weeks.

However, last night while mucking in the barn (where I get a lot of my praying and meditating done, believe it or not) I realized that perhaps I really don't want His will at all.  I want to want God's will in my life, but sometimes, I think my persistent prayers are actually asking God to do my will, not His.  

It's not wrong to pray and ask God to work or move in ways we believe are righteous, good, and in line with His will...but when the answer comes back "no" or "wait" is our (my) reaction "No, God!  I want this." 

Again, not to beat a dead horse, but the rain...So yesterday afternoon, a cold front came rolling down from the north.  The clouds began to build and the sky became dark. 


It was absolutely pouring to our northwest.  I just knew this was the answer to my prayers and we were about to get a deluge.  But this was all we got:


A small, light sprinkling.  While just over the tree line, gallons of rain were pouring out of the sky.  And I was trying to stay positive.  And I was trying to not allow those bitter feelings to rise up.  And I was trying to remember the things I had been praying about all day and what I have been learning.  And I was trying to be thankful because it was RAIN after all!  

And I was grateful.  And I was happy.  If only for the cooler temperatures that rolled in and the wonderful smell of cooling rain on hot grass and concrete.  

But there was still a part of me thinking, "This isn't enough."  

And I was ashamed by those thoughts.  How can I look God in the face and say whatever He gives me or whatever His plan for me is, that it is not enough?!  He has paid the ultimate price for me and my sin (and how can I so easily forget that when I've just been reciting the words He spoke before He paid that awful price?) and I get to live eternally in heaven with Him!  Not to mention the thousands of other glorious promises in His Word.

And mulling these things over in the barn is when I realize I'm still not there.  I am praying for God's will, asking and praying for things that I want to happen and hope are also a part of His will, but when I get down to the heart of it, when I honestly look at my motives and what I am really asking, I must ask myself if I am truly seeking His will?  

As John MacArthur noted above, Jesus willingly took the cup of God's divine wrath (which I deserved), because it was the will of the Father.  And so, do I in turn, willingly take this drought, this lack of answers as to when we will get Audrey, this limbo-land we're living in right now, the stresses and pressures that come with other issues in our I willingly take them or do I tolerate them?  Yesterday I was talking about endurance and I realized later there can be a big difference between "endurance" and "endure".  

Several months ago, our Pastor, Tom Pennington, preached a wonderful sermon on Psalm 46:1-2.  Here is that passage:

God is our crefuge and strength,
a very dpresent2 help in etrouble.
Therefore we will not fear fthough the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into gthe heart of the sea,

One of the things this Psalm is about is the sovereignty of God and God's plan and will for us.  He ended the sermon with these words: 

"The Psalmist is picturing the worst possible scenario, if the earth and the mountains are shaken, yet we are still secure!  Even if our world is completely shaken, because He is our refuge, our strength, our very present help, we will not fear because we know He is in control - our lives are in the control of all wise, sovereign God and our trials are the very best thing for us in our lives.

When we question the circumstances, how or why they came to be about in our lives, we are in reality questioning God's wisdom because we don't like His methods or think there is a better way.

Do you really believe the means, those specific methods and trials, are the best, most perfect plan for our lives?

The trouble God brings into our lives is not a lack of kindness or graciousness, it is perfect wisdom."

Therefore, Lord, not my will, but Thine...and give me the grace and faith to willinglyconsciously, deliberately, and voluntarily subjugate all my human desires to Your perfect will..

Thursday, July 26, 2012


I can't say I'm beginning this post with an exuberant, joyful heart or attitude right now.  And maybe this is why we are still in this trial; I still haven't learned my lesson yet.  

We finally received Consulate Appointment (CA) confirmation yesterday but it was our last choice and if we wanted to leave on the 2nd with the rest of our group we would be required to stay in country for 3 weeks.  I was very saddened to hear this news.  I actually spent most of my morning weeping because I knew Jason cannot be gone from his job for three weeks.  

So we discussed with our agency about leaving a week later, on the 9th.  They said yes, we could do that.  But now, our CA would have to be rescheduled because Audrey is over 2 and requires a TB test to leave the country.  With our confirmed CA being on a Monday, and our appointment at the medical clinic being on a Saturday, it would not give us enough time to have a clear reading in time for the CA.  

We discussed keeping our CA but traveling a few days early to get Audrey in order to give us enough time to complete these steps.  (Even once you get in country, there are number of things that have to happen in order.  One cannot occur before the other and so it has a domino effect if one thing gets out of whack.)  However, this option had us traveling for longer than 2 weeks again and was really not a great option either.  

So we were forced to request a new CA.  And reschedules are not the top priority of our wonderful consulate in Guangzhou.  Our travel coordinator said that it could take up to another 3 business days - maybe longer.  We cannot make travel plans or buy tickets until we have that CA confirmed. 

We have requested new dates but in trying to be as courteous as we can to Jason's employer and make our trip as compact and efficient as possible, we really can only go if our CA is on a certain day of the week.  So we have requested 5 new dates...we hopefully will leave either the 11th or the 18th.   

Because of the time crunch, we have also decided to skip Beijing.  That usually consists of 2 days of sight seeing and I really wanted Amelia to see the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, etc.  Who knows if we will ever get a chance to return to China?  Because of this shortened trip, and the closeness our trip now falls to school starting, we also are now considering not bringing our girls - which rips my heart out.  I don't think I've been away from either of them for more than a total of 5 nights and never more than one night at a time.  Honestly, I can't even think of one time other than an occasional sleep over that Ava has.  I can't think of anytime I've been away from Amelia.  

This is all very difficult for me.  And there are several other intense pressures and stresses from many other sides (which is putting it lightly) that have made this a trial which I am allowing to steal my joy at the prospect of finally being able, after almost one year of seeing her face, to get our daughter and bring her home.  I'm ashamed to admit this but it is the truth.  

To further drive home the lesson the Lord is trying to teach me, I awoke to this:


Rain so close and yet so far away...


We are having a downpour in our lives, but not the "wet" or rainy kind.  In fact, it's not the kind we want at all.


To the east and to the west we were surround by clouds and building storms this morning.  But no rain for us.  I have let some of my horses out in the "back yard" to graze because there is no grass left in their pastures.  This is what my grass looks like:



And then, through a friend's blog, I read this post from Ann Voskamp that boy, could I relate just made me weep and weep...

When All Hope Feels Like a Drought

Aman can watch the sky like a plea.
“And we didn’t get nothing — not one drop.”
That’s what the farmer’s wife said to me before breakfast.




How she headed home from town in a flat-out gully washer of a rain, thinking this was finally it — the whole dark sky like the ocean coming to find dry land, and she was just certain of it, the rain splatting across her windshield like a certain promise coming right now.
All the corn fields to the north and the south, they’ve been standing twisted right up for weeks.
Leaves curled tight and high in drought. Farmers, we call it pineappling — when corn leaves don’t hang relaxed, quenched and green and soaking in sun — but they writhe up like sharp pineapple spears — taut and parched and desperate to escape anymore heat.
It’s like the whole countryside’s reaching up like a begging.
But she said when she turned the bend, right there at the county line, not a mile and a half from the home farm, all that rain, all that hope, just evaporated into thin, clear air.
How there was nothing.
“When I turned up our lane, there was dust in the rearview mirror and rain coming down hard to the west.”
Hope, it can feel like a balloon string dangling over your head that you just can’t reach.
She shakes her head.
“I don’t think we’re going to make crop.”
That’d be like taking all of last year’s wage and investing it into a project — then putting in 12 hours a day everyday for six months, counting on it, and — and being told that you’ve just lost all of last year’s income — and you won’t be getting paid for this past six months either. That you’ll just have to go home with nothing — to a lot less — because the sky hanging right over your head, sky skirting with abundance just a mile to your north and a half mile to your south — it didn’t open up right overhead and let down your only lifeline.
Farmers in these parts are talking in days. How many days they’ve gone without rain. How many days left until their crop is futile in the field.
“We talked to a farmer who took his thousand acres and cut it down for silage — because when they peeled back the husks? None of the cobs — on a thousand acres— had even a kernel.”
Behind all the husks, there are a thousand ways that a life can feel barren.
Behind all the husks, there are a thousand ways there can seem not to be a kernel of hope at all.
The Farmer had emailed me while I was standing in a lobby in Port Au Prince, Haiti, in between blackouts, in between losing power in a country waiting for a gully-washer of hope. It had blinked up on the screen just before the dark: “We’ve never had a corn crop look so bad.”
And yet — hope is standing in the dark with a lamp lit with prayers.
The lights came back on.
I turn to the Farmer’s wife and I tell her what I had tapped back the Farmer: “So we pray.”
And the Farmer’s wife, she looks over at me and she says it in this sharp desperation of her own —
“You really think it works like that?”
My silence, my interior groping — it must betray my confusion. She says it louder.
“You really think it makes any difference, anything you pray? It’s just going to be what it’s going to be.” She turns away.
“It’s just going to be what it’s going to be.”
She says it like she’s watching hope in the rear view mirror, hope headed away heavy for someone else.


And I know that feeling, that witnessing. When I got home at 2:30 am on Sunday morning from Haiti, when after the sermon, I stood on the lawn with the Farmer, my sister and her husband and all our 11 kids, and we watched the sky grow heavy to the west and I begged “Oh, please, Lord…. please.”
And I’m another’s farmer’s wife too and how can I find it for myself and my prayer sounds more like a panic than a peace and I am the biggest mess of them all.
The Farmer’s got his hands in his jean pockets. He’s standing there where the lawn gives way to the corn field.
“I think we’re just on the south edge of this one. And it’s headed just a bit north of us…” He pulls a big Dutch hand out of his pocket, points towards the elevator bins across the fields. ” — See how it’s raining there on the other side of the highway?”
And I feel wild…
What if we get nothing? What if it is the way it is?
And he turns into all my angst storm and he can read me. He looks me in the eye and says it like a forecast:
When you know your Father’s loving — what can you fear losing?
He’s as calm as a man walking on water.
He hears us. He loves us. He has us. So whatever happens, He’s good and we’re good.
I look at him — He’s like a man completely resting on water. Isn’t that it? We pray to the Lord knowing His answer is Love.
And God is no genie and we don’t pray to God to pry something from God. We pray to God to be prepared by God for a purpose of God.
We don’t pray to get more from God — we pray to become more in Christ.
We pray because entering His presence is the answer to all our prayers.
Somedays just laying our head in His hands is the way we lay the burdens down.
The scars on His hands were made to be the perfect ditches for our tears.
The Farmer pulls me into him and wraps me in more faith and we stand together watching the sky, how the rain goes north.
How it comes down right here like a certain promise:
When your prayers look right into the face of Christ — every hopeless end turns into an endless hope.

As the Lord seems to be telling me time and time again, will I trust Him even when things look bleak?  

Even when He doesn't choose to send the rain.  

Even when He doesn't choose to send the confirmation we need to make travel plans.

Even when everything is up in the air,
We have no plans,
No timetable,
And mounting stresses on every side.

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and wsin which clings so closely, and xlet us run ywith endurance the race that is zset before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, awho for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising bthe shame, and cis seated at the right hand of the throne of God."  Hebrews 12:1-2

"Count it all joy, my brothers,2 when you meet trials fof various kinds, for you know that gthe testing of your faith hproduces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be iperfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
jIf any of you lacks wisdom, klet him ask God, lwho gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But mlet him ask in faith, nwith no doubting, for the one who doubts is like oa wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; phe is a double-minded man, qunstable in all his ways."  James 1:1-8

"And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God mmust believe that he exists andmthat he rewards those who seek him."  Hebrews 11:6

"Beloved, do not be surprised at zthe fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice ainsofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad bwhen his glory is revealed. 14 cIf you are insulted dfor the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory2 and of God rests upon you. 15 But elet none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or fas a meddler. 16 Yeteif anyone suffers as a gChristian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God din that name." 1 Peter 4:12-16

Trying to glorify God in these difficult times...

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