Monday, March 16, 2009

The Fire Within

I woke up yesterday morning, still groggy from the medicine I had taken for a cold the night before and not sure I wanted to roll out of bed and start the mad dash that comes on Sunday mornings when trying to make it out the door for church on time. I rolled over, picked up one of the books I reach for every morning (this year either Grace for the Moment or Jesus Calling), opened up to the day’s devotion and read:

The Fire Within (March 15 - Grace for the Moment - Max Lucado)
“Jesus began to explain everything that had been written about himself in the Scriptures“. Luke 24:27
When the disciples saw who he was, he disappeared. They said to each other, “It felt like a fire burning in us when Jesus talked to us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us.” (Luke 24:31-32)
Don’t you love that verse? They knew they had been with Jesus because of the fie within them. God reveals his will by setting a torch to your soul. He gave Jeremiah a fire for hard hearts. He gave Nehemiah a fire for a forgotten city. He set Abraham on fire for a land he’d never seen. He set Isaiah on fire with a vision he couldn’t resist. Forty years of fruitless preaching didn’t extinguish the fire of Noah….
Mark it down: Jesus comes to set you on fire! He walks as a torch from heart to heart, warming the cold and thawing the chilled and stirring the ashes….He comes to purge infection and illuminate your direction.
Has God set you on fire? What is the fire that will not be extinguished in your heart?”

Max was a good choice to start the day and I not so quickly hopped out of bed and answered “yes” when my husband asked if I was going to make it to church. Throughout the day, I wanted to sit down and write, but I couldn’t, either because more medicine was making my eyes cross or because my internet connection was non existent. So here I am, a day later, writing about yesterday. I hope the meds haven’t wiped out my memory as well as my ability to make good sense.

Over the past few months, I’ve received many emails from people all over the country and from places around the world. Some people have thanked me for being passionate about helping the people of Guatemala, others told me I was wasting my time. As time passed and as Across All Borders was launched, I received even more emails and phone calls from people I do not know. Some just want to tell me that they are praying (THANK YOU!!!), others want to help in any way they can (another THANK YOU!!) and then there are those that are against every thing we are trying to do. Even some people that claim to be Christians want nothing more than to discourage us. For every email or phone call I receive, I almost always think the same things.

Someone says “Thank you for what you’re doing!” and I think, “It’s not me!”
Another says, “You’re so kind to go out of your way to help people you don’t know.” and I think, “It’s not out of my way….this is the ONLY way.”
I hear, “You’re a saint for adopting a child and then going back to help.” and I think, “Please don’t use the word saint in the same breath as my name because I am FAR from it.”
People say, “You’re stronger than I am. I could never do what you’re doing.” and I say, “Of course you can!”
Many say, “You need to slow down. You’re working too hard.” and I say, “I’m not working hard enough or fast enough.”
Some say, “You’re crazy! You can’t save the world, so why are you trying to?” and I used to think, “Ugh….they think I’m crazy and I don’t want anyone to think that. And I’m not trying to save the world.”

But now I think……I’m still not trying to save the world and I never will because it’s not my world to save, but I am crazy and I’m embracing the term every time I hear it. As I wrote in an email a couple of weeks ago (hey, hey…crazy sister that I‘ll see in Dec.!)…..I’m crazy in love with orphans, crazy in love with families in need and crazy in love with God. So yeah….I’m crazy and lovin’ it! It makes no difference whether or not you believe any thing I say or do……I am not doing it for myself or for anyone else. Every thing I do is for the One that set me on FIRE!

For months I’ve been remembering a beautiful September day in 2007, but yesterday when I read “The Fire Within“, I could almost hear the “match strike” and could feel the very moment that I was set on fire and for the first time I didn’t blow out the flame. For so long, the flame had been lit over and over, but time and time again, I would get very close to the point of being OK with it, but I’d get too scared and blow the fire out, putting a temporary end to it. I had known for years that I would be working to care for orphans and families in need. I wanted to do that, but it terrified me. My fear and lack of faith (no matter how strong I thought my faith was) put out the flame every time. I was afraid of the unknown, afraid of stepping too far out of my comfort zone, afraid that people would think I had lost my mind.

As I was reading yesterday, I could hear myself from that day so clearly….praying out loud, because there was nothing else I could do. The love I had once had for Guatemala was gone (I thought) because of a situation that we were in with our adoption and because I was terrified of being in Antigua at such an iffy time during Guatemalan adoptions. I wanted to love Guatemala again, but I didn’t think it would be possible, so I prayed (taken from my journal)…..

“…….I do not hate Guatemala. How could I hate the place where you first planted the precious child you’ve blessed us with. He is our greatest gift, second only to your love. It is the situation I am in that I dislike, though I know that I am here for a reason, for your purpose. But this situation has damaged the love I once had for Guatemala. I want to love this place again, except I want that love to be so huge that it is unimaginable………..”

I remember so vividly sitting there….one minute questioning every thing that I believed in and the next saying, “Here I am. Tell me what you want me to do.” One prayer and a few minutes later, I was on fire….it was all very simple really. A lot of tears and one struggling person at a split in the road, choosing which way to go. From that day on, no matter how much I wanted the U.S. Embassy to give us permission to go home, I loved being in Guatemala. I loved every thing about it. I saw what I was supposed to see and heard what I was supposed to hear. I realized how horrible I must have appeared to women that had been living there for months, some more than a year and I felt so bad for complaining about what must have seemed so petty to them. I took in every sight, every smell, every sound and tucked them away. I prayed that I would remember the day when every thing changed, but I doubted I would. It was just another day, fostering in Antigua, and I was sure that I would soon forget it. But here I am, a year and a half later, remembering it every day and still thanking God for the very moment that He decided to try one more time to light my soul on fire.

Six weeks later, on the night before I was to bring our son home from Guatemala, I prayed (from my journal)….

“… Guatemala fades into the distance, remind me that I will return because I feel like by leaving this place, I am losing a part of myself. Please, God, be near me, because leaving Guatemala now, even with our son, is hard for me to do…..”

Six weeks is all it took. A total of 2 short months living in Guatemala caused what is happening today. I went to Guatemala to foster a child that would have had a more difficult adjustment to us had I not gone and came back with the certainty of knowing what had to be done in our lives. It has taken us a while to even get this far and we are barely scraping the surface of His plan for our lives, but we are working every day to get to where we are supposed to be. This passion for helping orphans and families in Guatemala isn't something that has ever been shaken. It is certainly a fire that grows stronger every day.

I wanted to write this for one reason. I get a lot of emails, but sometimes one sticks out and stays with me. I got an email last week from a college student that is considering traveling with us on an upcoming trip. She believes that she is being called to work in other countries caring for orphans. No one in her family supports her doing this full time (though they do support occasional mission trips) and she isn’t sure what she should do. She doesn’t want to upset them by doing what she knows is right, but she doesn’t want to do what they want her to do because it feels wrong to her. So she asked the question….”How do you know for sure when you are called to do this?”

The answer is… know when you feel like there is a fire burning inside of you and when you feel that, there is no doubt what it is and no doubt about what you have to do.
That is such a simple answer and I could go on and on about it. I’ll stop here, though, with the same questions that reminded me of a great time in Guatemala and made me think about the girl that emailed with such an innocent question…….

Has God set you on fire? What is the fire that will not be extinguished in your heart?


jajbs said...

WOW! Where to begin? I am sitting here in my classroom, with tears in my eyes. I SO needed to read this. God set a fire in me and Jeff years ago and we have let the cares and circumstances in our lives limit how hard and hot that flame burns. You reminded me this morning that it is up to each one of us whether we will allow that flame to ignite the fire and passion inside or whether we will let it dimly shine until it burns out.
God has used you to ignite, once again, that fire within me and I will never be the same.
I know you may think that a post cannot do this and that my words seem exagerrated, but something "snapped" or "lit" in me reading your words and I "feel' Him all over it!
Thanks for being obedient!! I can't wait to get together Friday night... God is doing something BIG!!!

love ya!

Bobbi said...

What a great post. Beautifully written

Rebecca said...

Somehow this didn't show up in my blog reader and i totally missed it. I can't wait to see you in Dec too!!
This is a phenomenal post. Truly.
Ephesians 2:10 came to mind when I read about the fire.
"For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus, to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."
He MADE you for this. I hope that brings you comfort that he created you with that match there and has fully equipped you to do THIS work. The Lord is truly all you need but I am so, so thankful that He saw fit to create me with the same "match" waiting to be lit. It is a JOY to join you.