Missing Pieces


I began writing this a month ago tonight.  Sometimes life gets “in the way” of what I really want to do, but I think that’s the whole point…  It’s what I do when life gets in the way that really counts.  That’s who I really am – the person I am when life is in the way.  Oh Lord, put together the missing pieces!

I keep falling back on things I have experienced in the past to describe what I’m going through in the present.  I keep using the past to make sense of the present.  And I keep hoping I’ll be able to figure out the future based on the past and the present. :-)  Yeah, not so much.  Foresight isn’t worth that much – because your guess about my future is probably as good as my own guess.  Hindsight is a little better, but it’s not perfect.  To be honest, I have no clue what God is doing in my life.  I have no clue what He’s GOING to do. That’s scary.  It’s also pretty incredible, because it means He’s not going to let me get stuck in a rut – He’s not going to let me get away with not changing.  I know what the purpose is of all that He’s doing, but I don’t know what He’s doing.  God’s purpose in working on me is simple – He’s working for His glory and my good, where “good” is defined as becoming ever more Christ-like.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,

neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.

For as the heavens are higher than the earth,

so are my ways higher than your ways

and my thoughts than your thoughts…

“If I were doing things according to my plan, well…”  I’ve been using this phrase a lot lately.  When folks ask how soon I hope to be overseas full-time.  When they ask how long I plan to be at Esperanza.  When they ask about how God is working through the support-raising process to show Himself strong in my weakness.  Anyone who has read this blog knows just how well my own plans usually work out. ;-)  (Um, like never.  Seriously.)  There are two phrases that come to mind here – “All I have needed, Your hand has provided: Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!” and  “This my song through endless ages, ‘Jesus led me all the way!'”

Making the obvious distinction between my plans and what God may do has been helpful in learning (slowly and sometimes QUITE painfully!) to hold my own plans with very open hands.  My tendency has always been to grasp tightly whatever small hope or blessing I receive from the Lord, including the hope of serving Him overseas.  However, over the past five or six years I’ve begun experiencing the truth that the worst blessings to have are yesterday’s blessings.  If I’m hanging onto yesterday’s blessings, there’s no room to receive today’s!  I always used to associate “blessings” with “material goods” or “happiness.”  While material goods and happiness may have a part in “blessings,” I’ve broadened my definition a bit to include all the guidance God has provided in the past.  Who am I to say God should keep going in one direction just because he started that way?!  So if I cling to the blessing of direction toward a particular goal, job, ministry, country, people group, etc., I become resistant to change.  Resistant to the work of the Holy Spirit in my life.  Resistant to becoming like Christ.

Over the past few days I’ve started praying something that really makes me tremble – inside and out.  I’ve started to pray that God will call bilingual nurses with strong clinical skills to come and work at Esperanza.  Nurses who will make a long-term commitment to the city of Philadelphia.  To North Philly specifically.  To the neighborhoods of Kensington and Hunting Park.  To the ‘hood.  To the work that God is doing in and through Esperanza.  And I’m praying that I will not be part of the answer to that prayer.  I don’t know if it’s Biblical to pray that I won’t be the answer to a particular prayer, but I’m praying it anyway.  Just praying stuff like this makes me realize how much God has done in me since SMI – or even since starting back at EHC in January.  Several years ago, I would have totally disregarded “urban ministry” as “not-real ministry,” because my definition of “real ministry” was working with an unreached people group in a country where you can’t live openly as a disciple of Jesus.  How glad I am that God deals so gently and mercifully with His children!

…For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven

and do not return there but water the earth,

making it bring forth and sprout,

giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,

so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth…

In all my wildest dreams, I wouldn’t have planned this.  As I was driving home from a busy day at work on Wednesday, I started thinking how my dream as a teenager was to be on the mission field as a nurse-midwife by the time I turned 25.  Since that milestone birthday is almost two years behind me and I’m still in the states, working a “normal” job, I’ve had moments (many of them) where I’ve sadly wondered, “What went wrong?  What did I do?  What didn’t I do?!  Why won’t God let me go?  Why am I still here?!”  On Wednesday, God answered.  Quietly.

“Susanna, you ARE on the mission field.”  It’s as if Jesus was sitting next to me and just said it out loud.  It was a statement of fact.  And it had never occurred to me in quite the same way before (though multiple people have attempted to enlighten me on this very topic).

Who am I to define how God is allowed to work in my life?  Who am I to say that I will only serve God if I’m thousands of miles away from friends and family?  Or I’ll only serve Him if I have to learn another language first?  Or I’ll only serve Him if I have to live in some sort of situation that is uncomfortable?  Who am I to demand that God give me a “ministry” that involves a bit of an adrenaline overdose?!  (Don’t even try to argue that’s the case right now…)  Who am I to say I have to live, eat, breath, sleep, talk, and think in a way that’s totally foreign to my own culture in order to claim I’m “ministering”?!!  Who am I to demand that God change me so that I love being unmarried if that’s the way it’s going to be?!  Who am I to put God in such a box?!!!!

I’m nobody.  Actually, I’m a nobody who owes everything to the Somebody.  Who ever heard of demanding things from those we owe?!  That’s insane!

Yet He still chooses to work in me and through me and in spite of me.  He has given me everything – life, health, family, friends, food, clothing, shelter, and the desire to know Him and make Him known.  He continues to give because He is God and He is good.  And I continue to receive because I can do nothing in my own strength.  (I’m still learning that each day…  I often forget and try to do good, to obey – but I cannot on my own!)

…[My word] shall not return to me empty,

but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,

and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

For you shall go out in joy

and be led forth in peace…

(from Isaiah 55)

In His perfect time, God’s plans will accomplish His glory.  His glory and my good.  He’ll accomplish what He’s set out to do – draw people to Himself.  I may be frustrated.  I may not sense the peace.  I could very easily forget what joy is.  And yet amidst the frustration, the peaceless-ness, and the sometimes-plodding un-joyfulness of day-to-day living, God is still working.  Even when I can’t see Him at work, He is shaping me and molding me, making something useful for the kingdom.  Someday it will make sense.


One Response to “Missing Pieces”

  1. 1 Hugs, Tears, and Goodbyes: Episode Two « musings along the way

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