Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Faith and other ramblings...

All of my couch cushions, save one, have been peed on at least once in the last twenty-four hours. They are now soaked in rubbing alcohol in a desperate attempt to prevent any urine smells. As you can see, potty training is going well.

We had tacos for dinner last night.

I spilled tea on myself twice just this morning, and on my remaining dry couch cushion.

Those are some random facts of our life in Indiana. Engaging, I'm sure.

In actuality, people have been curious about the differences between Indiana and Oregon and here is what I've noted so far.

1. Indianians (okay, that's awkward, which is probably why they refer to themselves as Hoosiers) don't know how to drive. If you thought Californians were bad, this is worse. Much worse.

2. Red lights and speed limit signs are apparently only a suggestion here.

3. People are ridiculously and genuinely friendly. I'm thoroughly enjoying the social aspect and getting to know people. And it's genuine. It seems as though community is highly valued and inclusive of newcomers. Oregon is much more individualistic, but community is still a real and thriving thing here.

4. Apparently the weather isn't always this nice, but it has been a perfect 70-ish degrees since the first week we arrived and I feel like I might be dying of happiness.

5. People sit on their front porches and get to know their neighbors. Since you can't see my face, it is an expression of happy awe and pure shock.

6. Birds don't just cheep here, they actually serenade you. It's hard to describe, but the birds just sing differently and it's so soothing and magical.

In spite of all this, I'm beginning to miss "home" and my people. It's been wonderful getting to know new people, exploring, and enjoying all that Indiana has to offer, but there isn't a replacement for the people who are already in your heart. We're transitioning out of feeling like we're on vacation in a new place, to really settling in, and I'm finding myself waking up missing my family and my people. I'm grateful for facetime and phone calls and getting to share our hearts with one another even from a distance.

God has been teaching me so much recently. I wrote a list in my journal, but the one that seems to keep coming up is faith. Our house in Oregon hasn't sold yet and I have been really struggling with frustration and impatience with this issue. But on Sunday, as Andy led our little family in "church," we looked at a passage in Hebrews where Paul commends Abraham's faith. He talks about how Abraham followed God initially because of faith, but he had to continue living by faith even in the land that was promised to him. It really struck a chord in my heart because I realized that we made this journey in faith and yet we must continue in that same faith even as we live in the place that God has called us to.

I spent some time on Sunday afternoon, asking God what that looks like, and I realized in so many ways that faith and surrender must always go together. That it is our faith that allows us to surrender because we believe that God is who He says He is and does what He says He will do. We cannot have surrender without faith. So I surrendered what I thought ministry should look like here. I surrendered our financial situation to God. I surrendered my hopes and dreams to him. Everything and anything that I was worried or struggling with was laid at His feet in surrender. And then peace came flooding in and the ability to pray, "Your will be done," was genuine and brought so much comfort to my heart because I knew I could and can trust Him to do what is best for His kingdom and our lives.

I don't want to control God's work in my life. If he would have us poor for His kingdom, then I will be content in that. If He would have us live in a beautiful home, then I will be content in that. If my ministry is homeschooling and loving my husband, then I will be content in that. If my ministry is teaching and preaching, then I will be content in that. Whether I or my children are healthy, I will trust Him. In all things, I long to say, by surrender through faith, that I'm content in whatever circumstances that God leads and calls me into.

It is by faith, through grace, that we are saved. If our salvation started in this way, it must also continue in this way. Trusting and surrendering to Him all that we are and all that we desire in confident expectation knowing that He is faithful to us in all circumstances and that ultimately His will for us is good, even if it is also, at times, hard.

Faith is the evidence of things hoped for - and do we not hope for Him? I've been baffled by this verse at times (Hebrews 11:1), wondering if faith is being confident that God will do what I want, but I've come to the conclusion that faith is being confident that I belong to Jesus and that He is mine also. That desiring Him, hoping for Him, is where you find faith.

It's amazing that when we take our eyes off of what we hope for, what we plan for ourselves, and place them squarely on the person of Jesus and His love and power and goodness, that we find the tangible substance of our faith. He is the evidence of our faith because He is who we place our hope in. He is the author and perfecter of our faith because He is also the object of our faith.

And yet we continue to pray for our home to sell because know His great love for us and His concern for His people. We've been asking Him to sell our home, but our hearts add a "Your will be done because we trust You in this," knowing that He will work all things for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purposes.

Our faith is more precious to Him than solid gold (1 Peter 1:7), so we pray most that He would refine our faith. Surely, we desire far greater riches than what will come from the sale of our home. We seek after heavenly riches which are only given by grace through faith. Like Abraham, we wander through the world as strangers because we are waiting for a "better place, a heavenly homeland" (Hebrews 11:16). And so, like Abraham, we also seek to live this life in faith trusting His promises because "God has far better things in mind for us..." at the end of this journey (Hebrews 11:40).

All that said, we would still love for our home to sell. Would you be willing to pray that it would sell and that God would strengthen our faith in the meantime? Please pray that we would trust in Him and put our hope in Him, regardless of our circumstances or desires?

Praise Him for the peace He has given us in the meantime, and for wisdom as we move forward in our life here. Please pray for the people we've met here that they would come to know Jesus personally or that they would grow in their faith also. We are getting to know our neighbors who are all such wonderful people and we would love those relationships to deepen and the gospel to permeate them in every way.

May we all grow in faith together, knowing that our Father is good and that He loves us.

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