When the world around you is crying…

IMG_3736Have you ever loved so much it just hurts?

Sometimes I can hold back loving so much so that it won’t hurt so much to let go. Because truth to be told, God has called us to love without reserve, but at the same time, He asks us to release.

This is something I’ve been contemplating a lot lately. Sometimes my heart hurts so much with the reality that the people around me that I care about are in pain. The world is in pain. Everywhere you turn, someone is aching and someone is crying inside and just needing to be valued and loved. Sometimes God opens the door to extend that love, and sometimes He doesn’t give the opportunity, and we have no choice but to leave them in His hands and know that His love is so vast and so much greater than we can comprehend and He holds them in His hands.

Lately my heart has been so weary of the pain that surrounds me. I want so badly to fix it all for the people that I care about; that are close to me. But I can’t. It brings me to the edge of a place of vulnerable trust unlike any other. It’s one thing to trust Him with your own story. It’s another to trust Him with the stories of people you care about so much it just hurts. There’s a feeling of helplessness and vulnerability in that, and it’s an opportunity for a different kind of surrender.

It’s where I’ve been lately, and it’s not fun, to be perfectly honest. What does God ask of us in these places?  I don’t always know what it looks like, and that frustrates me, to be perfectly honest. But sometimes I think He wants us in those frustrating places, when we honestly just don’t even know what to do with it all anymore…except turn to Him with hands uplifted and say, “Ok, God. Take it all. Take them…the ones that I care about and love. I know that you love them so much more and so much deeper than I ever could. So I trust You again to do what’s best.”

Sometimes all I want to do is be a fixer. I just want to do everything in my power to make it all better. But the truth is, that kind of attitude and fix-it attitude can totally mess up what God wants to do. Which is to bring each one of us to the cross, and face to face with Who He is for each of us. And for each of us to know Him, crucified. He’ll use whatever leads us to the cross.

That’s one thing when it’s just me…but when it’s someone that I love, I can hate it.

Release.

We can trust our God. He knows what He’s doing.

He is with us. Always.

Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens:
Who created all these?
He who brings out the starry host one by one
and calls forth each of them by name.
Because of his great power and mighty strength,
not one of them is missing.

27 Why do you complain, Jacob?
Why do you say, Israel,
“My way is hidden from the Lord;
my cause is disregarded by my God”?
28 Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
29 He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.

Is. 40

{Bangkok}

Tomorrow I will post my picture a day for the month of March, but I’ve been wanting to do a post about Bangkok. The four of us girls went down for several days to visit a couple of ministries down there, and while it was intense in some ways, we had a blast as a team. 🙂
Coming from the relatively {small} city of Chiang Mai (I had never considered it small until now), we felt a little like country bumpkins, running around trying to figure everything out.

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We felt pretty accomplished once we figured out the sky train. Especially considering the fact that {one of us} consistently got stuck on the wrong side of the gate and had to be let through by a security guard. Chalk one up for one of a kind experiences. 😉

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Oh, beautiful city.

And then there was the not so beautiful parts, which usually exist in pretty much every big city. If you follow my blog and know the kind of work that I’m involved in, you will understand the types of ministries that we visited, which are similar to our own. We were so blessed by our interaction with these dear friends, who encouraged us immensely.

Much of what I experienced and saw I cannot write about in such a public place. But the stark reality of evil continues to haunt me. The fact that it exists and that I am aware that it exists gives me a certain responsibility to make myself continually available for God to use. I cannot close my eyes or turn away from it ever again.

About a day after returning to Chiang Mai, with so much fresh on my mind and so many things to process, a friend shared this video. I believe it sums up nicely the truth of the need and my tendency to become too comfortable. May it never be so! May I always heed His call to reach out my hand to those who are crying, and pleading for mercy.

I met a friend while in Bangkok that I will never forget. She was young and beautiful, which fits the stereotype of the profession that she is in.  She responded so fully to the love that was extended to her–she grasped at it. The interaction that I had with her has stayed with me, and will for a very long time. It reminds me of the stark need, and the responsibility that I have to extend His love to those who are hurting. It breaks my heart to think that I may never see her again, but I thank God for the light of her smile in the midst of a dark place that gave me courage and renewed energy for the calling that God has placed on my life.

A few more shots…

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One of my highlights was of course getting to drive down to Pattaya for a day and see some of our friends there. It was my first time back since my internship in 2010. So many memories come flooding back. It is still such a place of sin and devastation  but I see God at work there, doing amazing things in the lives of many women and men.

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Pi Oh and Pi Tum were our gracious hostesses for the day. I am and will always be blessed by these ladies. I still think about Pi Tum and what she shared with us that day–the lady overflows generosity and a simple trust in her Savior to supply what she is in need of.

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My team…again, we had a blast together. So blessed by each one of these ladies. I’m blessed to get to work alongside of them!

Praise God for the opportunity that we had, the blessings we’ve received and the things that we’ve learned. God is not finished with the Country of Thailand!

Hello Love…

Have you ever heard of having a “word of the day” or “word for the year”? I heard something on the radio about it awhile back, about choosing a theme word for the year and just kind of focusing on that word. At the time it didn’t really strike me and I didn’t necessarily want to quickly choose a word and get all excited about it or something.  Sounded cute, but not really my thing.

But just the other day, it came to me. I was thinking a lot about what I want to focus on this year. What I want to be important. What I want to work on. What I want to improve upon. Mom and I have had a couple conversations about it, how important it is in life; how much we want to grow in this particular area. How important it is as Christians, and especially in reaching others for Christ. It’s probably one of the most important drawing powers that the Holy Spirit can use to draw people to Christ.

Love.

And I realized that this is what God is prompting me to focus on in 2012. Not this goo-goo, gah-gah, lovie dovie, you-love-me-i-love-you-we’re-all-happy-yay-rah kind of thing. But true, sacrificial Abba Father love. The kind that is willing to die for someone else.

Yeah. This is not for the faint of heart.

I realize as I think about it, that I just don’t have it. It’s evident with those closest to you.  It’s evident in the hardest times. And seriously, when someone snaps me off, or gives me what-for, or makes a snide remark that drives deep, the last thing I naturally feel is love. Of course I wanna make them take it and shove it and give them what-for right back atcha thank-you-very-much!

Yup. This just isn’t possible.

And then we hear another voice….You are loved more than you will ever know.…For God so loved… Love suffers long…the greatest of these is love…you are loved with an everlasting love….

If we’ve made the choice to follow Christ, we are familiar with the fact that God loves us. The sad thing is, too often it is just that—a fact. So when it comes to loving those around us, we struggle to really, truly love. When our love is tested, it quickly becomes evident how deeply it runs in our hearts…and it’s often not very deep.

How can we get a hold of that true, sacrificial love?

I don’t know all of the answers for sure. But this is the journey that I’m going to take in 2012. I intend to find out what it looks like, and to ask God to exhibit it in me.  I don’t know how He will choose to teach me, but I know that the secret lies in Him and in knowing more of His own loving, sacrificial heart.

Hosea gives a beautiful but painful picture of what this love looks like. Hosea is commanded to love a prostitute who runs away from his love time and time again. And it’s a true picture of the way the Lord loves us in our adulterous state.  And He asks us to love like that.

So here’s to an adventure in 2012! An adventure of seeing more of the deep, deep, love of the Father—and passing it on as He has called me to.