From the Heart · Lessons

Growing Pains

I think the Lord has been placing me in situations to learn lessons that will prepare me for the mission field. And I am failing miserably.

Flexibility. The mere word makes my nerves stiffen.

This past week was an exam week which normally makes my stress levels peak. But then our internet died. And then my laptop cord broke. And then we were short on cars. And my passport application was returned because I forgot a document. So I was frantically catching rides to coffee shops and libraries to listen to online lectures, fast forwarding parts to extend the life of my battery.

To be honest, I was a mess.  And I let myself sink into self-pity and complaining to anyone listening.

Now, the exam is over, the internet is restored and my new charger and my passport came in the mail. The sun is shining and I am ashamed. Not only did I fail to recognize God at work but I fought and kicked against Him and tried in every way to avoid the school of training.

And yet, these are some of the very things I clench so tightly — my freedom, my time, my access to comforts and conveniences– these things God may call me to surrender in His work for me. There will be many more things that will be taken from my comfortable reality and threaten to turn my world askew. I hate to be alone, but I feel God leading me to leave everyone I know and to live in Africa for 6 weeks. I may have no idea of what being truly alone is like. If I do not learn to trust and find joy in companionship of God now, I may be completely crushed.

Do I think giving up will become easier when I have a noble cause?

I remember when the training wheels came off my bike. It was traumatic. I was so afraid, and my fear made me more unsteady and caused me many bruised knees. In the end, the only thing that kept me wobbling around the driveway on two wheels was the safety of my Dad’s strong hands hovering over my handlebars, gently guiding me and keeping me steady. That, and the fear that I would be the only kid on the block still on training wheels.

Does a ballerina just wake up one morning with the ability to pirouette and leap with ease? It takes hours of stretching and strengthening and training muscles before gracefulness becomes natural to the dancer.  Likewise, the flexibility and strength to step out in faith come through the slow, yet sweet, process of learning to trust Christ’s sufficiency and sovereignty.

The congregational prayer in church this morning spoke so well to these “growing pains”:

Even as I am already convicted by the guilt and shame of my own rebel heart, may I be found gaining the mind of Christ and taking baby steps along his paths of grace. I delight to know I am under the guardianship of One who is too kind to injury and too tender to crush my spirit.

Grant me ability to surrender daily to the shaping influence of your Holy Spirit. I am awed to consider that rare glimpses of the likeness of Jesus might be reflected from me, to the watching world”. 

I am a bit fearful of what new heart sins this journey to Africa — beginning right now — will reveal in me. I’ve heard many times that the mission field is like a magnifying glass to what is really inside. Learning humility and flexibility needs to begin now so when the real, deeper cuts come, I am already loosened and ready to respond in praise, not protest.

So I am asking to be filled with the grace to be touchable, bendable, and teachable in the opportunities God gives to be sanctified, the lessons to know Him more. I want to see His hand at work in the circumstances I cannot control and to humble myself to His will.

There is comfort in the knowledge that the Lord is my greatest Friend and if I open my heart to Him, He will fill it completely. There is joy in the knowledge that the Lord Creator and Savior is concerned with my growth and lovingly, willingly intervenes. There is purpose in the knowledge that I exist to bring Him glory, and that purpose invades every single moment of my life.

He is worthy of my undivided everything. Because He is my God and this world exists for His glory.


2 thoughts on “Growing Pains

  1. Thanks for being honest. I often feel the same way and wonder how it will translate in my own trip this summer. Thanks for your encouragement to press on and know you are not alone in this journey.

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