Encouragement, Faith, Patience, Personal Growth

Top Ten People # 8, Gladys Aylward.

aylward4chinese orphans

Have you ever been told that you’re just not good enough?  Have teachers or other people of influence in your life told you that you are not capable of learning the subject matter and that you should abandon your studies and dreams?  Maybe these disheartening messages have come from within your own person or from others or both.  Has God called you to something that others disagree with and tell you that you’re wrong and now you are in doubt?  What if, deep down, you know your calling but obstacle after obstacle was rolled into your path?  All of these scenarios describe the challenges that faced Gladys Aylward.  Born in 1902, she was convinced from childhood that her destiny was mission work in China.  The journey to get there was an uphill battle from the start but her determination and belief in God’s calling enabled her to defy all odds and fulfill her dream.  Below are just a few of the obstacles she overcame:

  • Being small in stature and weak in constitution, she was repeatedly told she could never endure the hardships that rural Chinese life would consist of.
  • Her parents were working class people that could not offer any financial support for her dream so she went to work as a teen housemaid to save toward the cost of getting to China.  She saved for years on a meager salary to pay her own passage to China.
  • She applied to the established Inland Chinese Mission Board but was eventually released from language school after being told she did not possess the aptitude for learning Chinese.
  • She traveled alone on the perilous Trans-Siberia railway and was detained many times on her journey by Russians and others who sought to do her harm.  God protected her and she finally reached China in 1932.

This little woman, with no aptitude or support, worked faithfully in China and rescued over 100 Chinese orphans when Japan invaded in 1938.  She took them over a mountain pass to safety and did not lose a single child even tho she herself was wounded on the trek.  She was revered among the Chinese people and became known as the, “Virtuous One.”

Gladys Aylward, thank you for your legacy of faith, hope, determination and courage.  Thank you for overcoming the mountains of “NO” in your life!  Thank you for reminding me that a calling from God does is not necessarily an easy one.  Thank you for living out a life that was totally dependent on God!  Thank you for proving that if God calls and equips, it will be enough.  Thank you for confirming that our weaknesses are not a hindrance in God’s economy or plans!

Hebrews 13:20-21

 Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord,  equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

Encouragement, Faith, Reflections

Blessed are those who…

The+Beatitudes+Blessed+are+the+poor+in+spirit,+for+theirs+is+the+kingdom+of+heaven.+Blessed+are+they+who+mourn,+for+they+shall+be+comforted.As my daughter and I study the teachings of Christ, we are looking at his first public sermon which includes The Beatitudes.   Christ launches his public ministry, speaking to several thousand people, with a tender discourse full of compassion. Unlike the ‘gods’ of the day whose piety was unpredictable at best and non-existent at worst, Christ’s message speaks to the heart and not to outward behaviors. He does not chastise or encourage the hearers to work harder at being good. Instead he defines God’s intent to bless those who think themselves unworthy of blessing. Those striving souls, like me, who simply cannot work harder to be better. Those people who are so downtrodden and beaten up by life and cannot improve their outward condition much less their broken and sinful inner self.  Those who believe the goodness of God is unattainable due to poverty and being “less than” their neighbor.  Those who find themselves at war with the World and desperately long for peace.  A friend of sinners and outcasts, Christ identifies with the down and out from the beginning.  He came for me.  He came for you.
Oh, dear Lord and Savior, may I bring this hopeful message to the downcast and broken hearted, the persecuted and mournful, those who long for peace and hunger for mercy. Thank you that you did not say that you bless our doing but that you bless us in our most pitiful state of being.
Encouragement, Faith, Personal Growth, Redemption

All the Way, and then some.

A longer post.

moses in basket

In continuing with the idea that God often calls his children and people to go to extreme places in order to reveal himself, I want to look at the beginning of the life of Moses.

Moses was born into God’s chosen people who were enslaved by the Egyptians.  Not only were they enslaved, they were terribly oppressed.  Hard labor was forced upon them by harsh taskmasters.  The ruling pharaoh had succumbed to fear of the multitude of the Israelites living in his land.  Fearing that they might join forces with enemies of Egypt, he was determined to demoralize them with grueling work.  However, Exodus 1 tells us that the more he afflicted them, the more they multiplied and prospered.  Pharaoh’s strategy then took a cruel turn.  He would go to the source of Hebrew increase; he would eradicate the male population.  He first enlisted midwives to kill all the boy babies that they helped to birth.  Fearing God more than Pharaoh, they would not carry out his heinous instructions.  He then called upon the Egyptian general population to cast any male child of the Hebrews into the Nile.  It was during this reign of terror that Moses was born.  He was born under a death sentence.

His mother, like countless others, tried to hide him in her home.  When she could no longer muffle his cries or keep him sufficiently hidden, she resorted to a desperate plan. She covered a basket with tar and placed her tiny infant afloat among the reeds of the Nile.  This is my first point.  It was necessary for Moses to be placed all the way outside of the security of his home.  God is bigger than the safety of our homes.  Even if our children are taken away, given up, or leave on their accord, God is bigger than our homes!  God is bigger than the security we think we can provide.  What courage it took for his mother to place him there.  What courage it took to ask her daughter, Miriam, Moses’ older sister,  to stand watch at the river’s edge.  Crocodiles lurk there also and can potentially move faster than a girl who was still a child herself.  His mother’s courage and resourcefulness would bear much fruit in this story as we will see.

My second thought is that Moses was hidden in the very place that he should have been cast into!   The appointed place of execution had become his refuge.  More than refuge, the Nile became his place of rescue.

This brings me to my third point.   God can and does use anything and anyone to accomplish his purposes!  For the princess, the daughter of the very Pharaoh who issued the death decree, to discover Moses is not coincidence!  Oh I love how God writes surprising characters into his stories!  God put pity into her heart.  She recognized the baby as a Hebrew and pitied him.  She had him “drawn out” of the water and brought to her.  Some scholars have speculated that she was actually down at the river performing a fertility ritual and that Moses was seen as the fulfillment to her desire to have a child.  Fawning over the baby and declaring that she will take him as her own was overheard by Miriam.  As this scene unfolded before her Miriam, using the same resourcefulness and courage as her mother, and quickly approached the princess and arranges for a wet-nurse.  Who should it be but Moses’ own mother.  But that’s not all!  Not only did the princess consent for Moses to be taken back home and nursed by his own mother, she was going to PAY her to do it!  Only God can take our deepest point of fear, turn it around and make it a place of blessing!  To be paid to nurse your own son? Only God does things like this.

God has taken Moses and his entire family to the brink and saved him in a miraculous way.  No one in Moses’ family could imagine the grander story that God was weaving  or where this would end.  Each day with their son became precious and a time of preparation for his life in the palace.   We have the benefit of Scripture and know the entire story. However, his family was walking by faith with great uncertainty.  Each day brought them closer to saying goodbye to him again, but at least he was alive.  Each day provided another opportunity to tell him of his true lineage and heritage.  He was of God’s chosen people.

Rest assured, even when we cannot see, God is weaving a greater story.  Our darkest places of fear and doubt will become the place where God does mighty things!

Philippians 4:5-7 (NASB)

The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.