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.

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Failure and Success, Living in Freedom, Patience, Personal Growth

“I Your Teacher”

classroom

Isaiah 30:20-21…..”I your teacher will no longer hide myself, but your eyes will behold your Teacher and your ears will hear a word behind you, “This is the way, walk in it” whenever you turn to the right or left.

What does it look like to be in the Holy classroom of God?  I am sure it looks differently for different people but here is what it looks like for me.  I might be listening to a sermon, a friend, or even a stranger when a truth gem is exposed.  Its beauty begins to resonate deep within my soul and I know God has spoken.  I usually journal these nuggets of gold and meditate on them for days and weeks.  I find that over the course of those next days and weeks, I will hear the same truth in varying ways.  God will keep instructing me and reminding me of what He has said.

Like all good teachers, an opportunity to practice the truth ALWAYS follows the instruction.  What good is anything learned if you cannot use it in everyday life?  So it is with God, he does not waste His words, instruction or his time.  If He has been so intentional as to instruct, He has a purpose in it.

Several weeks ago I heard a message that contained more truth nuggets than I could write down.  I jotted down what I could and have actively thought on what I couldn’t.  Here’s the gist of what I was instructed in:

  • The fear of the future is often worse than the future.

Anytime God gives the command, “Do not fear”, it is ALWAYS coupled with a why not to.  For example:

Joshua 1:9 (NASB)

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

When we face our fears because of the realization that the God of the Universe is beside us, then we can take steps forward in faith and courage.  Personal victory has the potential to unleash corporate blessings. Consider the personal victory of David against Goliath.  The outcome had actually been dictated by the giant; whoever was victorious, their nation would enslave the losers.  David’s victory was applied to the entire nation of Israel!  He declared that he had come in the name of the Lord; he was living in faith and gained a courageous victory!

  • Do not entertain any thought reduces God or your position in Him.

1 John 4:1 (NASB)

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God…
Our loving Father does NOT use discouraging or despairing language with his children.  If you hear any “head talk” that is hopeless, filled with failure and fear, rest assured it is from our enemy and NOT our Father.  Years ago, our pastor at the time, gave me some very good practical advice for when the enemy was on the attack in my mind.  He encouraged me to say aloud,
“My Father said I am not to talk to strangers.  You are a stranger and if you want to talk about me, go see my Father!”
We are the sheep of our Father’s pasture.  We hear and know His voice.  Make truthful declarations to yourself and others about His character, His love, His power, His faithfulness and His glory.  What God has revealed to us in His written Word is for our instruction.  His past works declare who He is, not who He was!  Read and be encouraged and declare who our God is.
So, true to form, God gave me these nuggets and has also given me a test.  From where I am standing, the bay has emptied and a tsunami has formed and is poised to come crashing down.  However, by God’s grace, I will look beyond the wave to the creator of the wave.  The wind and waves still know His voice.  I know His voice.
Friend, if you also find yourself in God’s Holy Classroom, you are not alone.  He is right there with you as well as countless other saints who are in similar trials.  Remember that God is for you and me and has purpose in our tests:

James 1:2-4 (NASB)

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, 3knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
God desires that we lack in nothing and be perfect and complete!  What a good, good Father He is.
Patience, Personal Growth, Redemption, Reflections

Weather Alert! Storm Approaching!

Storm_cloudsSevere thunderstorms have been rolling across our state the last few days.  With high winds, blinding rain and even hail, they have been treacherous to say the least.  Yesterday, as I drove to work, traffic crawled at a snail’s pace because visibility was only about 2 feet!  I clinched the steering wheel with white knuckles and was exhausted by the time I arrived at my job.  I collapsed in my desk chair, thankful that I had made it.

Honestly, these storms have mirrored my insides.  A few days ago, while I was out-of-town, an emotional storm started rolling in and ravaged me in very familiar ways.  Old triggers were being set off and I felt out of control and like a wounded animal.  My mind and emotions could not seem to settle or find any peaceful calm place.  After an entire day of being in inner turmoil, I prayed, cried, yelled, and finally retreated to my bed thankful that I had made it.

I don’t understand days like these and I wish with every fiber of my being not to have any more of them.  Sadly, I know that I probably will and I am trying to gain as much insight as possible.  Here’s what I have come up with so far:

  • Being in unfamiliar settings can put me off kilter
  • Fears are opportunistic
  • I do not think in reasonable ways when I am off kilter
  • It’s ok to retreat to my room!
  • As I get older, my body handles stress in different and lesser ways
  • Nothing can snatch me out of the Father’s hand!
  • God does not love a future version of me, He loves me NOW!
  • Feelings do not always reflect the truth
  • God, like the good father He is, pities my broken and weak state

I am going to try to remember these truths for the next time.  I also want to remember that times of dysregulation and being out of kilter are a normal part of living in a fallen world.  I will also remember the words of Corrie Ten Boom:

“There is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still.”

 

heartache, Patience, Reflections, value

The Value of Tears

do not weep

Psalm 56:8 (NASB)

You have taken account of my wanderings;
Put my tears in Your bottle.
Are they not in Your book?

What do you keep a record of?  The birth of babies, holiday memories, special trips, good friends?  How about your sorrows or the crushing blows to your soul?  Do you chronicle the hours you spend being heart-broken and crying out to the Lord?   What about the endless nights where you cry until you have no more tears?  God keeps a record of not only our tears, but the anguish that caused them to flow.  He has given tears a holy status.

Be careful in not allowing yourself or others to cry when in extreme pain.  Tears are valuable.  They are the inexpressible words being spoken by our soul.  Tears are how are heart speaks when the pain is too great for our lips to describe.  God has seen every wound. Every heartache has been recorded in His book and our tears have been kept in a bottle. Even when we forget why we cry, he does not.  When we hurt, God is near; He is gathering our tears.

“There is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still.” -Corrie Ten Boom

Living in Freedom, Patience, Personal Growth, Redemption, Reflections

With Great Patience

ear

2 Timothy 4:2

preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.

Do you want to share more?  Do you want to be heard more?  Then focus on the phrase, “With great patience”.  How often do I ignore this important tidbit?  How often do I wrongly wield the Word of God too quickly with little or no understanding?  What does “Great Patience” look like? Or, more importantly, sound like?  I think great patience looks and sounds like a LOT of listening.

I find that most people are genuinely interested and inquisitive about spiritual matters.  After all, we are spiritual creatures.  Our innate sense of mortality and relationship to the spiritual realm compels us to ask questions and to find out more.  I also find that ALL people desire someone to be genuinely interested in THEM!  The number one way to demonstrate interest and give validation to another person is by listening more and saying less.  This approach allows us to then be intentional with what we do say.  We can then speak to what they have shared from their heart. By gaining trust and providing respect thru active listening, we then are often afforded more privileges to speak.  Active listening allows you to hear with the heart and speak with compassion.

Before we ‘preach the Word’, let us be slow to speak and quick to hear with GREAT PATIENCE.