snapshot of growth

Okay, it’s been so long since I’ve posted anything, I’m not sure I remember how – so if this looks funny, forgive me.

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Katie and I returned from Panama late Sunday night. The photos above are just a few of the children that your generous gifts provided for. These faces say “Gracias y Dios los bendigos” (“Thanks and God bless you all”)

On Thursday night I heard a statistic claiming that most American Christians spend more money annually feeding their pets than on foreign missions. Now with all due respect to Brad, I don’t want to debate the accuracy of this statistic. That isn’t the point. There are facts and there is truth. The statement – factual or not – woke me up to ponder a deeper truth; where are my priorities?

We’ve been studying the kingdom parables in Matthew for the last couple of months. One of my expressed desires is to have Jesus look me in the eyes and say to me, “Well done, my good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Lord.” (Matt. 25:21&23)

What I’ve been learning in this stage of my Christian walk is that, in this life, I can’t have my cake and eat it too. Allowing Jesus to be Lord of my life means making His priorities my priorities. Does this involve sacrifice? Yes. Does it involve suffering? Yes. But wait a minute – the Bible has some amazing and incredible things to say about suffering (Romans 8:17&18 and II Tim. 2:11&12 might inspire you to take a deeper look…)

And here is the paradox – it isn’t until I began to give sacrificially that I truly saw and knew how much God personally and individually loves me! When you have a desire and no means to fulfill it, and you choose to let it go – along with any regrets and resentment – and God chooses to supernaturally and miraculously give it back to you… Beloved, that’s when you know that God is real and He loves you!

I can give numerous examples of this from my own life. But I will also admit that there have been – and continue to be – just as many, or more, changes in my expectations as a result of the surrendered life. For example, as a child my family took week long family vacations every summer. The decision Ray and I made to live on one income so that I could be home to raise our children meant giving that up. I personally struggled with this for many years. In the 24 years that we’ve had children together we’ve taken less than half a dozen “pleasure trips”. While I was in Panama it occurred to me that, in the 14 years that we’ve lived in CT., we’ve been on as many mission trips as family vacations. Now that’s a statistic I like!

Hearing the comment Thursday night reminded me once again that life is short. I’ve been given so much, but what do I have that’s worth keeping for myself at the possible expense of eternity for someone else? I thank the Holy Spirit for helping my “flesh” to die so that Jesus can live, not just in, but through me. Imagine what God will be able to with a group of us who corporately desire and pursue this level of discipleship…

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