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Living the Story

I’m not going to lie:  I hate fundraising.  Honestly, I don’t know too many people who really like it.  That’s encouraging.  All in all, it is a huge struggle for me.  I can definitely see the philosophy behind it (besides the need for money):  it gets people involved when they invest in someone, builds relationships, helps the missionary know there are people standing behind him, allows a blessing to be given to the person giving, etc.  The list could go on and on.  That’s all great, but when you’re sitting across the table from someone that you have known for a long time (or not long at all) and you start to ask for money, the all consuming fear washes over you, “I hope this person doesn’t think that our whole relationship and my reason for seeing them today boils down to the fact that I need money.”  Some people are really offended when I ask.  Others are really honored.  No matter how gracious a person is, it’s still awkward, uncomfortable, and nerve-wracking.

My family instilled within me a strong work ethic.  In fact, this is the American dream:  that you can work for everything you get so you never have to ask for help.  Well, that’s the actual American dream even though it’s turned into:  that you can have everything you want and never have to work for anything.  It’s interesting how the Kingdom of God works so differently.  It’s not about self-sufficiency; but rather, it’s about the Body of Christ giving back the resources they have been given to supply the needs of the Body of Christ.  It is about working together to reach the world, sending out those who are called with a blessing.  This is not natural for any of us in the United States to think that way.  That’s why it’s awkward to ask, but also awkward to give.

Anyone who has ever fundraised understands that it is an emotional process.  There are highs and lows and they can happen so fast.  Someone will be extremely generous, and I am humbled beyond words.  Happiness floods my thoughts.  “God’s got this,” I say.  Then, just a few minutes later, I get an email from the field, “Your numbers are really low.  We need to have more so we can book your flight.”  Totally understandable, but then I am plunged into despair and think, “Don’t they know that I am eating, drinking, and breathing this right now?  I am doing everything possible!”  Then I deal with frustration, anger, and disappointment.  Through this whole process and with every emotion (because that is only what it is, emotion), I try to fold it up and lay it before God.  And walk away.  It is so hard.  It is also hard to admit that I even struggle with this.

Emotions are just that:  emotions.  They are temporary, fleeting, and not worth basing anything on.  Sometimes they can seem more real than faith.  They are not things that we can just decide to leave behind (and if you are one of those people who can, more power to ya!).  We must work through them.  I guess it’s part of the surrender process.  It’s hard in the moment to see this in perspective.  When all we are is frustrated, it is a huge temptation to not only despair but to also act out in that despair.  I am finding that I must keep myself in check that I do not misrepresent Christ in any moment, whether I am happy or sad.  As Christians, we want to be honest and transparent with those around us, but we must learn to differentiate between feelings and truth and we have a responsibility to convey that truth despite what we are feeling or tempted to do.  I am learning how to say and really mean it, “I am struggling right now with trusting God, but He has always been faithful and He will be faithful now.”  Every day I fall before Him and say, “Lord, help my unbelief!”

I told my friend yesterday, “It’s fun from the outside to watch God at work in someone’s life, and it’s fun in the end to tell the story.  However, when you’re living the story, it’s really difficult.”  We all hear tales from great people of faith about some of the things that they have gone through, and I think most would agree:  they are full of joy that God came through, but there was a significant time before that when they really struggled to trust.  It seems that we often either have short-term memory loss with God’s faithfulness or we see the next thing coming up as so much bigger than anything God has done for us in the past.  “Maybe God did this and this and this for me, but what is happening now is so much bigger and scarier and much more impossible!”  God has to have a lot of patience with us and love for us or else He would have destroyed us long ago.  I can just imagine how frustrating we can be at times to Him.

I am learning, however, that faith is a choice.  Sometimes it is a choice that I need to make every day.  Lately it has been a choice I need to make every five minutes.  Before I left Nashville, my pastor preached a sermon that I needed to hear.  He said that God doesn’t just work miracles out of nowhere.  He calls us to take a step of faith; to give something of ourselves first.  Then He takes what has been given and does infinitely more than we could imagine with it.  When we give God the best of what we have, He can work in amazing ways in our lives and in the world.  I apply that not only to myself, but also to the people who have so generously invested in my life and calling as I move to South America.  I can’t wait to see what God will do for all of us.

I had a tough day with my emotions yesterday.  As I sat down with my friend and talked to her about it, she told me, “You know, it’s all ok, because it’s not your problem.”  I realized right then that I have been continuously taking back all that I have been giving to God.  The truth is, He has called me to do this.  I know without a doubt that He is leading me to do this.  My friend said, “You know He’s not going to ask you to do something and then not come through.  God’s right on time.”  Simple truth, but it was exactly what I needed to hear last night.

So today, I am getting up, getting dressed, and living the story.  GOD’S STORY.  Little by little I’m learning to let Him have everything:  my joys and my frustrations.  It’s not my problem.  It’s His.  And He will come through.  I have enough to concern myself with by being obedient each step of the way.  It’s not an earth-shattering thing, but a daily surrender in giving to God what is already His.  When I look at it that way, living the story isn’t so much of a burden as it is a privilege.  You mean, God would live out HIS story through ME?  Whoa.
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