Saturday, August 29, 2015

The Wisdom of God > My Wisdom

I struggle to always keep in step with the Spirit moment by moment. To submit and give up everything truly is radical and terrifying. However, when I think deeply about it, walking in my own wisdom, contrary to the spirit leading, is even more frightful. Though I struggle, I know that ultimately I want nothing more than to live in total surrender and abandonment to the spirit every moment I have left on this earth.

The spirit may leave me in total sacrifice financially, or he may lead me toward humiliation in the opinions of people around me. The spirit may ask me to move to a different city, a different state, or a different country. The spirit may ask me to stay where I am and spend my time in very different ways than I do now. The spirit could lead me towards actions like into Samuel six, where David danced before the Lord "with all his might". Others were shamed by his undignified display of worship to God, yet David said that he didn't care and that he would become even more undignified for the sake of the Lord.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Adventure or Nothing: A Young Woman's Pursuit of Happiness

I've been inspired by several noteworthy women in my life. Some notable examples are women like my Susan B. Anthony, Lottie Moon, Helen Keller, Elisabeth Elliot (and of course my mother and wife). Today, I met another one. I can't even use her name here, but I have permission to tell her story.

She grew up here in the Central Valley of California like me. This is a dry, withering, drought infested, economicaly depressed and increasingly drug riddled area with high levels of poverty. I don't get to witness much good in my area. My work has never allowed it, working in ER's, on the streets as a paramedic, in a rural health center, and in homeless ministry. I really need to branch out more, or get the heck out of this region.

But this woman, half a decade younger than me saw life that way as well. She woke up one day pregnant and on the streets after her boyfriend kicked her out. She determined that she wasn't going to end up depending on the government to support she and her children and enrolled in nearby college.

On a whim she applied for a job with a large multi-national company in a major Midwest city. She never thought she'd get the job and was shocked when it was offered to her. She is making a good sum of money and has found a house in a nice suburb of that city. She is still a single mom and came home to take care of some final details but has been living in this city so foreign to her for two months. She related to me that the city is a scary place to her. It's never someplace that she could have seen her self but realized that there was no future for her or her children here and decided that it was worth the risk.

The gravity of such a move struck me like a bolt of lightning as I sat there dumbfounded by what I was hearing. This woman, barely old enough to have a college degree had already accomplished what so many more privileged people fail to do every day. She admits her fear, but tells me that her faith in God is stronger than that fear and grows more every day. I have heard stories like this in my life, I've heard a lot of bragging about personal accomplishments, but never have I spoken to someone so humble, so capable and so faithful that she didn't even doubt this opportunity. She didn't worry about whether it was God's will for her life. She didn't poll as many people as she could find, she didn't try reading tea leaves. She trusted God and took a huge step of faith at a moment's notice when she was asked in that unexpected phone call, "yes or no?"

Helen Keller, Lottie Moon, Elisabeth Elliot, Susan B. Anthony and the multitudes of other courageous women whom loved and trusted their Lord would have applauded this woman's character along with me, of that I have no doubt. What a blessing to meet her! I will forever be inspired by her faith, strength, courage, humility and love for her children and I aspire to be more like her in so many ways.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Send us.

A photo from our most recent medical mission to Haiti in May 2015
I find that there are days, long days that start early with frustrations that seem insurmountable. Frustrations about finances, security, social standing, and reputation mount on me. I find that in those times I tend to either withdraw into my thoughts, seeking escapism rather than facing the insecurities or I step out, face them and look to The Lord for answers. When those answers don't come immediately, I still become frightened.

I've made career decisions, very recently, career decisions that seem foolish. I turned down a position to be trained in neurosurgery. I would have gained such valuable experience and expertise that career-long earnings and job security would be concerns of the past. 

I had to take a stand and ask the questions "What am I doing this for? What am I pursuing and where do I put my trust?" I have financial insecurity now. My paychecks bounce, my checking account has become overdrawn for the second time in the last 6 weeks because of this too. I don't understand why this is happening. The frustrations for my wife and me are mounting. After graduating from one of the finest schools in the world, we find ourselves worse off financially than we were when I was a paramedic, working nights and and going to school full-time by day. 

And I have to remind myself why I turned this position down. I chose to stay in this job position. I pray every day that the Lord opens a door into another job. One that prepares me for the mission field both with knowledge and experience but also with financial security. I know that there will be other job offers. I'm assured by other physicians that there are other jobs out there that will prepare me. 

The problem for me is that is seems that there are so few people that understand our calling into missions. And we need that encouragement right now. No, we REALLY need that encouragement right now.

We are buried in debt now and feel hopeless at times to ever climb out of this financial hole. How could someone who only wants to bring God glory, share His Word with the unsaved, bring medicine to the hurting, malnourished developing world face so much opposition? Some would say that it's because I'm not meant for missions, that God has something else in mind for my family.

It certainly seems that way at times. But here is where we must take our stand. There is NO guarantee that life will be easy when you follow Christ. In fact, one may argue that the only guarantee any person may have when deciding to follow Christ is that life will be very difficult.

Recently, I was watching a webcast in which Dr. Kent Brantley was giving some updates on Ebola medicine and at the end fielded some questions. During this time he relayed a question that he had heard about his own fight with Ebola. He had been asked if it was his faith that healed him of the Ebola. He got very serious for a second and said that following Jesus, being filled with faith and being a Christian doesn't protect you from anything. 

Then he shocked me something that should have never shocked me when he proposed, "I got Ebola because of my faith."

I started thinking about his trials, the trials of Steve Saint and his father, and numerous others who followed Jesus into turmoil. 

The fact is that I'm sick to death of half-heartedly pursuing this. I'm sick to death of being embarassed because of everything that we struggle with financially. The world tells us that this isn't how we were meant to live, but experience tells me, the Bible shows me and the Gospel compels me that difficulty and trial is part of it. 

So we walk along, unsure of ourselves, knowing not what the future will bring. Afraid to fall into obscurity, becoming entirely irrelevant, we just keep going. Our faith isn't the size of a mustard seed, it's much much smaller, but we still believe. We feel very alone, but we believe. We have no one to walk beside us and provide direction. We have no one that seems convinced as I am that God has called me to missions. I mean if I were to follow conventional wisdom, the fact that my church seems not to be interested in preparing us for the mission field, our friends (save a few really staunch devoted supporters of our calling) are not interested in praying with us, walking with us or encouraging us to move into the mission field. In fact, there are days when I feel entirely alone in this. Days like those I doubt. I seriously doubt! But God will do something to draw me back onto the path, reigniting that passion for medical missions.

If you are reading this and you care at all, if you have any encouragement, advice, want to walk alongside us, please let me know. Until that day, we will wait to be sent.