A little weary and discouraged, our grubby group gathered at the end of the day to vent, debrief and encourage one another. We all were feeling some spiritual attacks throughout our day. This is to be expected when you are doing the work of the Holy Spirit. I wish we could all embrace that outstanding knowledge that the early Christians rejoiced in their persecution, at being found worthy of suffering in the name of Jesus. I am sure in our hearts we want to be like that but pride often gets in our way.
The day started with the excitement of being able to start laying tile. And I was thrilled to have access to the office where I could spread out my laptop and things and catch up on some writing. BUT...
There were set backs... communication problems, misunderstandings and just the difference in work ethics and cultural differences that started creeping in, causing discouragement and division. and that spread quickly through the group. Frustrations mounted, tempers flared, control issues conflicted with visionary gifting, time management competed with goal settings and personality types rubbed up against each other. Yes, it was a trying day for us all but when we were able to step back long enough to see it for what it was, and begin to be honest and transparent in our feelings, good and bad, walls came down and the devil riding on our back got thrown off like an urban cowboy on a mechanical bull.
We stopped work around 3 yesterday as there was a basketball game that evening and we needed to vacate the premises for the teams. we had a little shopping adventure by walking to a small grocery store (more like a mini mart) and purchasing bread and lunch meat and then eating it back at the hotel on the patio. I took a nap after our late lunch as I think most of us did. We met again at 6pm and Ryan took us to the top of the hill as was promised earlier in the week. We had an outstanding view of the town, and tucked into the sides of the mountain, a monastery. we could also see better the ruins of an ancient Turkish Fortress. It would be great to walk in further and explore but the length of the hike didn't line up with the time we had. Oh well, it was an awesome photo op!
After this the group was going to attend the basketball game at the center and then go to dinner. I had to admit defeat to the overwhelming fatigue and need for quiet time and asked to be returned to the hotel where I promptly climbed into bed and slept like the dead until 6:30 this morning. I was sad to miss the R&R time with the group but in the long run, everyone will be the better for my rest time.
This morning at breakfast we talked more about the attacks we felt yesterday and the need for prayer coverage and transparency with each other. I shared that what I was seeing was that each of us is like this floating mass in space, and what keeps us floating is this magnetic flow of God's grace. when something gets in between us and the flow, we immediately begin to fall. What we need then is to have the Holy Spirit so close to us that nothing, absolutely nothing can get in the way of cutting off the flow.
I was also struck this morning by how pride can really destroy. And that each of us is here on this mission trip for a different reason, perhaps only known to God. It might be for the exchange we have with one of the Macedonians, or perhaps it is to teach us something about a flaw in our character that God wants to change. We may think we are here to lay tile but that is SECONDARY to the real purpose.
I think that while my interaction with Mary on my first day, may have been the reason I was here that day, there is another reason and it may be that God wants me to really learn what it means to live in His strength, learning above all that HIS GRACE is sufficient for me, that HIS POWER works BEST in my weakness. (2 Corinthians 12.9)
You see, it is fairly common knowledge among my friends and family that I need a lot of space and down time, to regroup and re-coup. I come across as an Extrovert because of my outgoing nature but in truth, being around people drains me quickly. And before we left on this trip I thought about how this adventure would take every ounce of my strength as down time and 'space' would be a luxury. NOW, I see that because God wired me to be an introvert who quickly tires, there is no way I can do this on my own. in fact he never intended for me to do that. He designed me this way so that I would need Him! I don't have to even think about where I will find the strength to get through the challenges. Because HE provides it. again, It was never intended for me to try to do it on my own.
NCCTK is doing a sermon series right now called "Improving You for Him" and there is a fun expression about becoming the me I was meant to be; it's called becoming more 'you-ier'. God made me just so and He never intended for me to change, just be me, only the best me I can be.
I think the lesson I am learning in the midst of this trip is about exactly that.
from the book "the Me I Want to be" by John Ortberg
"but as God grows you, he wants to use you in his plan to redeem the world, and you will find him changing your experiences."