I was always a kid who made due with whatever life threw my way. Growing up in poverty in a drug-dealer's home made circumstances sometimes unpredictable. While my Daddy made many mistakes he loved me and did his best to protect me. There were many days without electricity or water and getting ready for school was
impossible a real feat. I learned to do much with very little. I learned to endure. To take whatever the day brought and deal with it, struggle through, and move on. While many people would pity my childhood, I don't.
I'm the sorta gal that realizes what has to be done and if I don't like it I make myself like it, if that makes any sense at all. Growing up I always wanted to have one child and I was going to spoil that child. When I married Johnny he informed me that he wanted 7 children,
WHAT?. I was in shock but I soon decided that if this was what had to happen I was going to make it my desire also. Before long I dreamed of having a home full of little children calling me Mama Mother Dearest.
Not in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would one day be a preacher's wife much less a missionary to a foreign land. When I stop and think about where He brought me from and where He took me to I stand amazed. Here I am, a little dirty girl from the wrong side of the tracks, literally and my life amazes me.
I have no complaints about life at all. I don't feel as if I have missed out on something or that there is something I deserve which I don't have. I have no complaints! God has been so good, giving me more than I deserve while giving me less than I deserve. He amazes me.
In 2000 when we arrived in Croatia with our 3 little children in tow we had no idea what to expect. There were no American friends waiting on us, no one to explain life to us, it was just us and the dear Croatian people God sent us to. That first year was an experience of grace. I felt loneliness like I had never felt before. I watched the children cry for their grandparents and just as I had been trained so many years before I sucked it up, dealt with it and moved on. This was God's will for our life, and I knew that so I was going to make the best of it. I decided to make myself love this place.
Here I sit in my living room thinking to myself, I love this place. I love the house God has given us, I love the church I go to, I love the people I work with, I love the Croatian people as if they were my people, I love the little Gypsy children who run to me at the children's meetings and give me hugs, I love the weather here, I love the food and especially the desserts, I love being needed and loved, I love the joy I get from living for someone else, I love my dog, I love having coffee with friends in the square, I love the will of God for me.
Hey it's a long road. I know if I had given up, I would have never reached this place in my life. If I hadn't purposed in my heart to love the will of God I would be unsatisfied, unfulfilled and who knows where we would be now. I had to consciously decided to love the will of God for my life. I remember fighting negative feelings and having to tell myself that I wouldn't allow it. I didn't allow my self to ask, "what if?" I refused to even entertain the idea that there was something else. I knew His will for me and I decided to accept it and make the best of it. Now...after all all these years His will is truly my delight. I wouldn't want to live anywhere else. I wouldn't want to leave these people or this place. I wouldn't want to be anyone else, my life is a picture of God's foreknowledge and a little stick-to-it-tive-ness, as my Preacher would say. If we had decided it was too hard, or entertained ideas about what it would be like somewhere else we would have never made it to this place. This place of contentment.
God is so good to have a will for each of us, the problem is that we faint long before we arrive at that perfect will. It's not too difficult to be in the geographic will of God but it takes time to love being there. I see so many missionaries and young people these days who make decisions for God and never carry through. Or they arrive at His will and don't have the endurance or character to stick it out. Anything worth having takes work and sacrifice. If you will ever make it to that place of rest within His will you have to struggle through the tough times and there will be many. Life is hard, it throws stuff at us that we could never prepare for. It is hard, it will be hard. STICK IT OUT!! We will reap if we faint not but we have to endure. It makes me sad and ashamed that so many missionaries and pastors fall by the wayside daily. It's an epidemic. We have become soft and we faint too easily. The statistics for IFB missionaries as as follows:
1,000 American Missionaries return home each year
75% of missionaries return home within the first three years and never go back to a foreign field
43% of missionaries never complete deputation
These statistics are staggering! Are you kidding? Missionaries start deputation, travel and accept money for years sometimes and then just decide it's too difficult. For real? That's dishonest! Some go to the field stay 2 years, come home knowing they will never return and then travel for a year accepting money from churches knowing they'll never return. It's a shame and it's dishonest!
What ever the missionaries and workers of the past had, we need it! We need to figure out how to find the strength to stay, to endure if we will ever make it to His perfect will for our lives. How many thousands have gone unsaved because a Christian quit and didn't endure?
Over the last 15 years we have seen more missionaries go then we have seen come. We are a shrinking population and as Christians we need to wake up, buck up, stand up or grow up, which ever is needed.
This has been on my heart for so long. I don't like heavy blog posts but maybe just maybe someone is struggling to hang on. Contemplating quitting. Imagining brighter pastures. DON'T!
Decide that His will is going to become your delight and put the time into it that it'll take and one day...you'll find that perfect will and delight in it.
And let us not be weary in well doing: for indue season we shall reap, if we faint not. Gal 6:9
Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Psalm 37:4
Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. Heb 13:5