Monday, January 9, 2012

The Real Reason I'm Here

Roman ruins an hour from my house.

My husband always says that the real reason God brought us to the Middle East was because He wanted to mold and shape us. We thought we were coming to share the message and encourage others in their faith.  Perhaps God did bring us here for those reasons, but He obviously had so much more in mind because we’ve learned far more than we’ve taught. We’ve received more than we’ve imparted, and we always come back to the point of realizing that the task here goes beyond our own strength and capacity.  Any small way in which God has used us is a miracle of his grace alone.

If you are serving overseas, do you ever feel like God has done a greater work IN you than He has THROUGH you and your ministry? 

I suspect that bringing me here was just part of God’s plan to continue the good work He began in me. Through the daily dilemnas of overseas living and the spiritual challenges of seeking a harvest in a hard land, He is shaping and changing me.

Here are some of the things I think I may be learning:

  • Flexibility.  (The water, electricity, or telephone might go off.  Guests might arrive one hour early)
  • Spontaneity.  (“Can we come over right now?”)
  • Hope and joy, even in the face of discouraging circumstances.
  • Faith to believe God for a great harvest I cannot yet see.
  • To serve out of obedience and love for God, not for the personal satisfaction of seeing the results of my ministry. 
  • To rejoice and be thankful for small victories.
  • To keep laughing.
  • To go out on a limb for God.
  • To trust Him for things that go totally beyond my abilities.
  • To treasure family and friends.
  • To be an abla (older sister), hopefully one that looks like Jesus.
  • To actually love Turkish coffee, ayran (salty yogurt drink) and lokum (gummy Turkish delight) rather than just tolerate them
  • To remember that Jesus is my closest friend when family and friends back home seem far away.
  • To go to God when I’m thirsty for more of Him, trusting that even in this dry land His Spirit will be a spring of water welling up to eternal life inside me.

Can you relate to feeling like God is doing a greater work IN you than He is THROUGH you?  What are you learning as you serve overseas?


Choate Family said...

Amen to EVERYTHING you wrote! God is certainly teaching me to get out of my comfort zone and trust Him more :-)

Linda said...

I can SO relate! Three years in South America and eight in Africa taught me so much, humbled me so much--in a good way. It's all about GOD. I thought I was "going" because I had something to "give," by oh, my.... I learned and received so much more. God is amazing that way. I so enjoy your blog because I learn so much from you!


OliveTree said...

Here's to getting out of your comfort zone, Choate family. I think I left mine too...

Thanks for the encouragement, Linda, God has been reminding me that I'm a work in progress. We all are!

us5 said...

yes, yes, yes! this experience has been so humbling - i feel as if i stepped into a crucible when i landed here, and that God is using it to refine me, to bring all the ugliness to the surface where it can be dealt with. it's been painful at times, but oh, i'm so thankful for His grace to continue working on me despite my great need.

Stephanie said...

Yes, absolutely and AMEN and AMEN again! God needed to send me overseas cuz I was just that stubborn---I wouldn't learn all these lessons without the pressure and push of another world! He is that good. And, from time to time He uses me too... but His work has predominantly been about the INSIDE of me. He wants my heart.

Kris Thede said...

Yes. Another person who stubborn enough to need those lessons under pressure. The examples of our national friends-their strong faith and hope in face of some horrible circumstances. Priorities. Praise not complaints. Learning with my kids.

OliveTree said...

Great things to learn, Kriss, especially praise not complaints.