Thursday, November 3, 2016

Giving it all up

     Can you think of one thing that you are very attached to emotionally? Maybe it is a family member, something that your great-great-grandfather gave to you, or a current job. So many times we hear that we must be willing to give up everything for God. That makes sense when it is something that obviously comes from the world. How can God be living in us when we are crowding Him out with things of the flesh? But have you ever thought about what if God calls you to give up something that is useful in your ministry work? Maybe you have a truck that is used every day to take sick people to the clinic, but God calls you to give it up. Perhaps, that college degree that could be used to teach others something specific must be put aside so that God can use you another way. What if He asked you to give up some of your missionary family? Recently, God taught me a good lesson about giving up what is not even really mine.
            Every class session the students are required to participate in a weekend-long survival campout. This usually happens in the bush where the students can have access to all the natural resources available. Due to many unforeseen circumstances, plans had to be changed this time and the campout was to take place at our lagoon-front piece of property in Honey Camp. Of the many changes that had to be made, the hardest to plan was the transportation issue. Normally, the staff members can travel quickly and freely between the campsite and home. However, even though distance wise the property is not far, the time to travel there is much longer. Friday morning the students headed out bright and early for their weekend retreat: the staff to join in the afternoon.
            Everything was going well until I realized that my missionary family had not arrived. They should have arrived around 5:30 pm and it was almost 6:30 pm by now. I figured that they had gone right at the fork in the road instead of left. This isn’t a big problem considering the road is a loop: just wait until they come full circle. But they were taking a really long time. I called back to home base and checked to make sure they had left. Sure enough, they should have been at camp already. The guys jumped into the truck to go look for them since it was getting dark and might be a little difficult to find our property on the lagoon. When news returned that they had not been found on the loop road, we started thinking about where they could have possibly gone. The guys went back out to check on the few roads that forked off the loop, but only to return with nothing. Panic was not setting in, just a bit of worry and confusion. My dad doesn’t get lost easily. He knows how to get to our property. Mom would have told someone if something was wrong. Despite all of the signs, we kept looking in hopes of finding them stuck on the side of the road or with a flat tire. I tried to call but all I heard was, “I’m sorry but the person you are trying to reach is not available at this time.” As the hours passed things started to seem more abnormal. By 10 pm I was starting to feel desperate. With all the stress of being in charge of the weekend, the lack of sleep due to all the preparation changes, and the desperation of knowing they had been literally minutes away yet did not arrive pushed me over the edge. My emotions burst open like an uncontrollable storm. Before midnight struck we had two of our local pastors, friends from phone companies, the police, the embassy, and many other friends involved in the search. It is not as bad as you think. Just go to sleep because you cannot control yourself right now. But I can’t sleep right now with this type of stress. What if…? What if…? And again my tears flowed freely. My body began to shake while everything seemed to be turning from bad to worse. My missionary sisters hugged me and held me to calm me down. They repeated God’s promises, sang songs, and prayed for deliverance for the lost company. God, why should I need to give up my family? They help people all over the world to be able to continue to do mission work. They are serving You in so many ways. They are Your missionaries. And that is when it hit me like a strike of lightning in the middle of that storm: They are Your missionaries not mine. In that moment I had to decide to give them up and submit it all to God. Perhaps, although my finite mind could not understand how, God had a bigger plan for their lives. A calm gently started to flow over me as I held onto God’s presence. Maybe I would never see them again, but only in earthly terms. That resurrection day will be all the sweeter as I see more loved ones lifted up to Jesus, the One who conquered death. That night gave very little sleep, but it did give an assurance that God’s angels were encamped around us. The next afternoon, tears once more fell as I got to hug those that I had considered lost.
            Can we really give up anything in this life? Do we actually own any item in this world? Or have we been loaned all of these many things from an infinitely loving God? Take care of what has been placed in your care, but also be ready to return it whenever God calls. It will never be a loss. 

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