Friday, February 19, 2010

I'm afraid... Jesus, do you care?

New experiences always come with new fears for me. Before I left for Loja, I wrote out my top three biggest fears. Here they are:
1. What if I can't learn the language? What if I can never communicate my heart with the people I am there to minister to?
2. I am going to miss my family and friends so much. What if I feel completely alone every day I am there?
3. (Here's the dumb girl fear) By the time I get back from Loja, I will be almost 28 years old with absolutely NO possibility of boyfriend, let alone marriage. What if I have to do this alone for the rest of my life?

After I wrote these, the Lord spoke to me and said: I am all you need.

Now, two years later, I want to share with you how he answered each one of these fears.
1. I'm not going to lie and say that the language learning was easy. It wasn't. One day I would feel completely sufficient in my Spanish and the next day I felt like I couldn't even say my own name. But you know what? God had me start a Bible study in Spanish two months after I got there. Every week when I walked through those doors to meet with those three girls, it was as if the Lord turned a switch and my Spanish was more than sufficient to do what he had called me to. We would study His Word and I would understand and be able to respond to about 80% of what was said. The interesting thing is that He didn't make my Spanish wonderful and easy all the time... most days I would have to rely on him completely for every word that came out of my mouth, but when I was doing Bible study or sharing the gospel, it was there... so that I could share my heart.
2. At the beginning, I shared Jesus with the people of Loja because they were my "ministry." But over the months, they became so much more. I shared Jesus with them because they were such dear friends that I cannot imagine spending eternity without them. I spoke the truth of the Word with them because I loved them, not out of obligation. I can try and communicate the depth of love I have for my friends there, but mere words will never do it justice.
What does family mean to you? To me they are the people who love me no matter what, who take care of me, who will fight for me and I for them. By this definition, my family lives just as much in Loja as they do in the States.
3. This is one that I thought was too far beyond the power of the Almighty... if that's possible. But Jesus did the impossible and brought my friend of 7 years to Loja to minister along side of me. This man encouraged me, listened to me, supported me and was my best friend for the past year. Who would have guessed that the man I want to spend the rest of my life with was walking beside me for so long?

The same God who said, "I am the bread of life. I am the good shepherd. I am the way, the truth and the life," also said to me, "I am all you need." I didn't know how He was going to answer the scariest questions for me, but he did. One by one, He took care of them. One by one, He calmed my fears and said, "I am... and that should be enough."
Now my new adventure is so open it's scary. I am going back to Dallas and asking, now what?? But even in this the Lord is saying, "Give me your fears. I will answer them one by one. Fear not, for I am with you."

Friday, February 12, 2010

Out with the Old, in with the New...

As we sat on the balcony at 12:01am on January 1, 2010, all you could see up and down every street were bodies being kicked and burned. Before you freak out, let me explain. It is an Ecuadorian tradition to make "Old Years"... these are dolls dressed and made to look like YOU. At midnight everyone bring their "Old Year" out on the street to kick it, saying, "All the junk that happened last year is done... its over with and we are looking forward to something better next year." And then to seal the deal, they light the Old Year on fire and everyone jumps over it, not just once, but THREE TIMES!
Of course, we had to join in on the tradition and make a Jamie Old Year, light her on fire and jump over her (see picture above). As we saw all the fires up and down the street, I thought to myself... 'This is a picture of the Old and New Man." Like it says in 2 Cor 5:17 "If anyone is in Christ he is a New creation; the OLD has gone, the NEW has come." We say, "All the junk that happened with the old man is done... its over. I am a NEW man." And the more I thought about it, the more I realized that this is what Jesus wants from us, to kick that old man... to burn him... to say to Satan, "Sin has no hold over me! Jesus has taken it away!"
I know its February and its been a while since New Year's resolutions were made, but maybe its time for you, for me to say I am done with the way of the old man. I am a new creation in Christ. I will jump over that burning old man and live life expecting the Lord to do something amazingly new in me in 2010.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Bread and wine or coffee and bagel?

Over the past 2 years, I can count on one hand the amount of times I have taken communion at church. As I sat in church this morning, I started to get excited as I saw the communion table set before the congregation. In Dallas I went to a church that took communion every Sunday and that is something I desperately miss; a time to just quiet my heart before my Creator, to think of His death and gift to me, to be silent and commune with Him.
I smiled as I held the "communion bread" in my hands... I'm not exactly sure who makes it at my church, but it has been the same every since I was a kid. It's like a moist biscuit that has been dipped in honey. And as I think of it, that is how commune with the Lord should be... something you look forward to. And then it hit me... what do I look forward to the most every morning? Hearing the whirl of blades as the smell of freshly ground coffee awakens my senses before my body even knows what's going on. What is the most common thing that I do every morning? Drink my coffee. As I think back to Jesus' day, I realize the most common thing they did was eat bread and drink wine. He could have said 'Every time you eat turkey and drink sparkling apple cider..." but that was not common. He wanted them to remember him ALWAYS. Every time that they broke bread together, every time they sat down to share a cup, He wanted them to think of His sacrifice for them. So why have I confined communion to Sunday? Why does it only come out when I'm sitting in a pew? Why do I not see communion as every time I come to COMMUNE with my Lord... and that happens mostly over a cup of coffee, not a small sip of juice?
I want to not just remember the Lord's death when the pastor says its communion Sunday, but every moment of every day... because that's how often His grace keeps me. His blood covers my insufficiency today as much as His broken body saved my soul yesterday. May I always be eternally grateful and communing with Him whether its the "allotted time" or not. Does he commune with me more when I'm holding a small cup and wafer rather than a cup of coffee and a bagel? You tell me.