Someone That Edits Your Life

Transitions and new seasons tend to give us opportunities to have our faith stretched and our character tested. Our family is coming up on one such time as we head back to the states for a four month furlough eleven days from now. A couple weeks ago, with this transition on my mind and a bit of fear in my heart, I wrote a blog post. You didn’t read that blog post though. No one did, because it never got posted.

After pouring myself into it for a hour or so, I could tell that it was coming off as a bit ‘edgy’ or at least that’s what I would have called it. I don’t typically read my blogs to Melissa before posting, but this time I did because I knew it was a little more involved. She heard me out and said that she resonated with a lot of what I wrote. Then she told me that I shouldn’t post it, to at least sleep on it. I wasn’t too stoked on that. I feel like my writing has been so sporadic that when I do actually get something down, I want to post it. I thought with this post the redemptive qualities outweighed the negative aspects to the post.

She challenged me “how do we be real about our sharing, but not lose sight of the hope that we have?” “How do we honor those that have graciously supported and partnered with us, while stirring up others towards good as well?” I pouted and told her that I wouldn’t post it.

The next day I realized that she was right and that blog is still sitting in my drafts.

I need my wife. For a million and one reasons, but this one for sure. She edits my life. She didn’t just edit the blog post. She edited what was in my heart. Through my writing, she could see that I was speaking out of fear, I was dwelling on disappointment, I wasn’t honoring and I wasn’t uplifting those that would hear from me. She lovingly, compassionately helped me understand where I was and how to follow God more closely and show love and grace to others.

The funny thing is, a very similar instance happened about four years ago. I blogged more regularly then and decided to make a post about blogging and my lack of true community and disappointment with friends in the states. It all came across quite negatively, though I liked to think I was speaking tongue in cheek and merely being satirical. I got an email shortly thereafter from a young lady that I hardly knew but went to high school with. It was clear that I had offended her through my post. I subsequently deleted the post, but not until after a handful of people read it.

The difference between those stories wasn’t me. In both stories, I had fear and insecurity, I was ungrateful and unkind. The difference is that someone came alongside me a couple weeks ago and edited my heart, my attitude and yeah, even my writing a little bit.

We all need people like this in our lives. It doesn’t have to be a spouse, though for those of us that are married, they should certainly be included. I have friends of mine, my parents and others that have that ability to edit my life.

Whoever it is that gets to speak into one’s life in this way, they must realize it is a privilege and one that comes with growing trust and mutual vulnerability. There will be plenty of people that would love to tell you everything that you should be doing with your life, but they do it from a place of control and self-interest. I’m not really interested in such relationships personally. There are others that might be on the right track, but haven’t yet dove into the vulnerability that it requires or experienced life with the other person enough to really have that editing authority. This is a process, but a truly beautiful process.

On Wednesday, I found myself freaking out again. I was worried about a number of things. Our car was in the shop and we were needing to get stuff done and were now worried about how much it would cost to fix it. And on the other end, we still had (and currently have) so many unknowns awaiting us with our upcoming furlough. Despite our communicating through Facebook, YouTube and newsletters, we still don’t know what we’ll be driving while in California or where exactly we’ll be staying. So yeah, I was freaking out.

Melissa pulled me out of my whirlwind and said, let’s read the Bible together. She then read from Matthew 6 and reminded me that it’s not for me to worry about what our furlough is going to look like or where our money is going to come from. Today has enough trouble of it’s own and our Father in Heaven knows what we need. Just seek first His Kingdom and righteousness. Good word. When somebody speaks truth louder than the worries in your head, all you can do is sit back and say ‘yeah, you’re right.’

Who edits your life? If you’re like me, you need it on a normal basis. One of the things that Melissa and I have struggled with is finding true community and those people that have that ability to edit our lives. We should all be striving for that together in our families and in our social circles. It takes vulnerability, it takes true humility, it takes wisdom and discernment, it takes intentionality and a whole lot of effort. The most important thing that makes all the effort worthwhile is that it’s through these relationships that we see the Kingdom of God manifest on earth and the Church reach what Christ’s intention is.

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” -Jesus (John 13:34-35)

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset
Me and my Senior Editor

The Audience

Photo Cred: https://www.flickr.com/photos/dmjames58/
Photo Cred: https://www.flickr.com/photos/dmjames58/

You ever hear someone talk about identity and how identity is all about knowing whose you are? I feel like ‘identity’ is a bit of a buzzword right now in Christian communities and I would say rightfully so. We must know who we belong to. In my experience with this notion of knowing whose you are, the answer I’ve been given is always for one to know that they are a beloved son or daughter of God. It has a lot of affection and sentiment attached to it and rightfully so. I’ll be honest though, when people would give this answer it hasn’t always resounded with me. Not because I don’t believe it, on the contrary, it’s because I’ve always known it. It’s core to my being and is something like the air I breathe.

I was reading in a book* that I borrowed from my friend Mark and the authors approached that same understanding of knowing whose you are from a different angle. It wasn’t the familial, affectionate answer that I’ve grown accustomed to, but rather a straightforward and clear answer. Knowing whose you are is all about deciding who is the authority over your life and who is your primary audience.

I had to read over the paragraph a few times because it really struck me.

I can’t help but think about all the things that we do and the motivations that we put behind them. There is no shortage of things to spend one’s life doing and often we do such things with somebody else in mind. In a lot of ways it seems only natural. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing so long as one’s heart is pointed in the right direction.

Social media come to mind. In some ways, as a missionary, we have a heightened draw towards Facebook and the like. This basically happens because the vast majority of the people that we’re friends with on Facebook are not people that we see on a normal basis. I’m not talking about high school friends from ten or twenty years ago, I’m talking about our very closest friends too, the ones that we left back in America. Not only that though what people see online has a direct affect on our funding. Kind of a big deal, or so we think.

This experience is far from unique to us though. Most people, to one degree or another, imagine or actually have some sort of life audience that they hope to appease and entertain. Just the other day we had fifty or so people over to our house for Promise’s birthday party and it’s very easy to get into this mindset where you want to impress others and put on a good show. The problem with that becomes, whether it’s online or in real life, you end up getting burnt out as you realize this hunger to impress your audience is insatiable.

That’s the good thing about having God as your only audience and authority. You allow Him to do what He wants through your life, and He, as your audience, will always be pleased with you.

With our furlough quickly approaching, this has been a good reminder. We’ll be in the states for a little over four months and for missionaries, this is not down time and for the most part not a sabbatical. There are aspects that we look forward to like re-connecting with friends and family and enjoying certain conveniences, but there are plenty that we don’t look forward to like bouncing around from house to house, not having our own car and going from day to day with unclear plans and provision. All the while, you are trying to speak at churches to drum up support for your family and your ministry. You get in front of a church audience and hope that they find you appealing. It’s exhausting.

My hope and prayer is that I would live every day remembering, no matter what I’m doing, that I do it for an audience of One. I don’t have to worry if He saw a particular Facebook post or heard me speak when I was in the area. He sees it all and knows everything about me and what I do. He has the provision that I need, He puts righteous motivation within me.

*The book is Lead Like Jesus by Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges. So far so good.

Story Time with Promise

A little look into our nightly Bible reading time with Promise. She loves reading the Bible, can’t go a day without us reading it together.

If you watch the video and decide you want to help us with our upcoming travel costs, we’d really appreciate it! You can give online by clicking here and just designate ‘Brandon and Melissa Stiver’ in the dialogue box. You can also send a check if you prefer. Make it out to ‘Global-Effect’ and write ‘BMS’ on the memo line. Send the check to Global-Effect, PO Box 992856, Redding, CA 96099. Thanks!

the guy who couldn’t change the world

It’s remarkable how fast life goes past. Sometimes I feel like I’m just trying to hold on while my existence flies by, it takes every ounce of intentionality within me to find moments to hit the brakes and breathe.

Earlier this summer, Melissa and I had the opportunity to pastor four young ladies that came from Vanguard University to intern with Global-Effect. Since they left last month, we’ve been blessed to keep up with them a little over Facebook and one of them, Cynthia, (a junior at VU) came across this photo in an old VU yearbook and asked me if it was me.1923893_505340163869_6961_n

That is me. Or that was me. That photo was taken my first full day in Tanzania back in May 2008 at an orphanage called Kili Kids. That’s over six years ago.

When I think of that guy in the photo, it’s easy to get sentimental and remember the bright-eyed, bushy tailed recent college grad he was. Sure, he was naive in a lot of things, but one thing he didn’t lack, passion. He had such certainty in his plans, thoughts and callings, sure he was wrong about those things a lot of the time, but you wouldn’t tell as much because he was just that zealous. He drank the “I’m gonna change the world” juice and shared it with his friends.

I wonder what happened to that passion. I hear my wife say the same about her reflection on college life. She was passionate and people knew it. We all wore it on our shirt sleeves.

Perhaps in a lot of ways, I became disillusioned. There are layers to these things. You first go on a missions trip and you want to help and you decide to pursue God’s call to care for orphans. I took that very real calling and moved here in January 2010. I was enthralled with the orphanage I worked at. There was nowhere in the world that I’d rather work. Time went on and things got hard, differences among the staff, not being able to do more for these children that you love so much, getting tired, getting lonely, getting tired of being lonely. In the process, God brings along these huge transitions in life, getting married, having a kid, switching organizations and somehow you’re no longer that recent college grad pushing two random Tanzanian orphans on the swing.

He was naive, but he was sure of himself. He was inexperienced, but he was determined. Above all, he was passionate and people told him as such.

In this whirlwind life, it’s easy to romanticize yesteryear. Today, I’m choosing to believe that God has brought me a step or two forward since that photo was taken. Lots of young folk are chalk full of passion for different things. It often gets misdirected or simply erodes as they get older. But today, I’m choosing to believe that God has been refining mine.

Sometimes it takes a person six years to learn that he can’t change the world. Can’t do it. The guy in that photo wouldn’t believe it if I told it to him. He gave himself the mantle ‘father to twenty-six Tanzanian orphans’ and said things like ‘I love kids so much, I just have to get plugged into an orphanage where once kids age out, more little ones come in. That way I can always have kids around me.’ Those things aren’t possible for me.

Sometimes it takes a person six years to learn that only Jesus can change the world. Sometimes it takes a person six years to learn that if he’ll have any role in changing the world, he has to be adjoined to the body of Christ and submit to other believers.

When I think about my daughter Promise, I know what it means to be a father. Being a father is such a huge part of my life. It pains me to say that I couldn’t be the father that the kids at the orphanage needed. It pains me that I couldn’t be the father that Awadhi needs. Yet, in all my past disappointments of personal inability to change the world, I know that God has established a righteous resolve within me. He is able to change the world and He is wanting to use me. His Kingdom is at hand and He beckons each of us to reach out and grab it, to join Him in renewing and changing the world. As for me, I want each child in this nation to know the love of a godly father and I want each godly man to know the love of child they can call their own. I can’t be that man to those children. I’ll probably max out around six or seven kids, but there are people, men and women, that can be the parent that these kids need. God is able to change the world and change the world of each person, what a honor that He invites us to join him.

Though it’s not on my shirtsleeve any more, I know that passion is still inside of me. God has refined. I thank God for directing my steps. He’s taken me down paths that the young man in the photo would have never imagined and in all honesty would have dreaded. But God is faithful and He’s changing the world we live in.

A Stiver Family Update

It’s really hard to believe that it has been 5 months since we packed up our home, said goodbye to our dog, and boarded a plane in Tanzania, arriving back in California. So much life has already taken place and a new little life has been welcomed into the world. That’s right, for any of our supporters who have not heard our incredible news yet, we are so pleased to announce the birth of our daughter, Promise Susan Stiver. Born on Friday, September 21st, at 10:14am. Weighing 8lbs 10oz, and measuring 20.5 inches long. The birth itself was not ideal, for Promise was born via an emergency C-Section, but we are so thankful and praising God for great health for both her and Melissa.

Other than Promise’s birth, our time thus far has been spent visiting family, being blessed by 4 (yes, four!) baby showers, visiting our supporting churches, going to several doctors appointments and birthing classes, and settling into life here on the Central Coast.

In this season of life here in CA, the Lord has pressed on our hearts Exodus 14:14 (as written above). We had been praying for wisdom in knowing what it looks like to wait on Him and be still. We had also been praying for a ministry position for Brandon to take up while we are here. After almost 5 months of being obedient and being still, the Lord heard our prayers and we are very excited to share that Brandon has begun a ministry position at First Baptist Church of Los Osos (the church that Melissa grew up in and that we got married in). The church recently came alongside another congregation that had fallen on hard times in the neighboring town of Morro Bay. The church has decided to hire Brandon to lead in the rebuilding of that congregation and lay the groundwork for  whomever the pastor of the new church plant will be. We are excited for this Kingdom opportunity as we know that church plants are such a beautiful expression of the Gospel.

Additionally, being on a normal salary with the church will help us financially. It has been a real difficulty at times to make a meaningful dent in our student loans while working on a missionary’s pay overseas and we look forward to making progress with the loans while we’re here.

Since we are on a regular income with the church, we are not fundraising for our efforts in Tanzania for the time being. We are so incredibly blessed to have the partnership of so many friends and family. We hope that you will continue (or begin, if you don’t already) to partner with us when we return to Tanzania next year to continue the work among the precious orphans of Kilimanjaro.

Some Questions You May Have

When will you return to Tanzania?
The short answer is sometime in 2013. There are different variables that could impact the actual date. First, we want to ready as a family of three to endure the difficulties of living and working in overseas ministry. Second, we will have to coordinate the time with both the church and the organization as we transition back to Tanzania. Our supporters, friends and family will be among the first to know when we’re going back exactly.

Will you be fundraising and looking for supporters?
YES! Fundraising and finding financial/prayer supporters is such a critical component of being a missionary. Once we have a better idea of when we’ll be going back, we’ll start getting the word out, fundraising and speaking at churches. We prayerfully hope that you’ll consider continuing your support of us and our ministry.

What about Awadhi and the kids at Treasures of Africa?
The hardest part about being away from Tanzania is not seeing the kids that we love so much. We of course know that, as always, they are in the very best of care with the other loving missionaries and staff at TOA. They are doing just fine. People often ask about Awadhi in particular and without a doubt that special little guy is dearly missed as he has a special place in our hearts. When I first moved to Tanzania, I had every intention of pursuing adoption of Awadhi. However, not long into my life there I became aware of an age stipulation for adoptive prospects that unfortunately we don’t meet for 8 year old Awadhi. Since then, through tears and prayers, we’ve gathered that God has something else for him and us. He nevertheless will always have a special place in our hearts and lives.

What else are you up to while stateside?
Just living life! Above all, we’re figuring out what it means to be godly parents to our beautiful daughter. We also hope to make new friends here in Los Osos while also connecting with other friends more that we aren’t able to see while over in Tanzania. We have been tremendously blessed by our friend Kelli who has allowed us to use her new car for coming months which helps not only with getting to Morro Bay, but also getting out and having fun. In all things, we rejoice in what God is doing, in Tanzania and here.

at some point…

At some point, I’m going to get back to writing, get back to creating, get back to something that will exercise my mental capacities. My daughter, Promise, was born ten days ago today and as much as I love creating and writing, I’m taking some time to figure out being a dad to an infant and a husband to her mother.

In the meantime, here’s a picture of me changing the diaper of the cutest child known to man, because that’s the kind of stuff I’m doing these days…

friends

I felt so blessed. I looked out into the faces of so many people that meant so much to me and had each had a hand in who I had become and who I was becoming. Friends from every sector of my life. Through tears, I shared with them how much they each meant to me and how much I appreciated them. I have always been the guy that had too many words, so I got to a point where I knew it was time to compose myself, put the mic down and return to my seat.

I sat down. Then one by one, about twenty or so friends of mine came up and affirmed me and sent me off with their warm words, prayers and one last hug.

A week later, I boarded a plane and left California, the only home I’d truly known. My eyes were fixed on Tanzania and a life that I couldn’t have expected.

Hard to believe that that was two and a half years ago now. So much has happened since then and I know that I’m not the same person.

I settled into Tanzania and soon the romantic aspect of living there lost its veneer. Frustrations began to set in that are all too common from living in a foreign, third-world country trying to do ministry. And as I returned to my single bedroom guest house night after night, a very real feeling and realization came upon me: I was alone.

I didn’t recognize my insecurity, because up to that point, I didn’t know what insecurity felt like. I joked about the spot I was in. Haha, the only single guy missionary here. Haha, living alone in the back of some Dutch family’s property, with whom I had little relationship. Haha, I only have one friend that emails me regularly. Haha. Like Ken Kesey wrote in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, I had to laugh at the things that hurt me, it was the only thing that kept me from being driven plumb crazy.

I knew not what to do, but turn to a god of our times. Technology. I began writing regularly on a blog, linking it to my Facebook and sharing it with all my friends back in the states. I had to check it constantly, because I thirsted for recognition. Not merely of my writing, but that people would validate me and tell me I’m a good person. I wasn’t walking in the truth that only God can validate me. I was also finding out the hard way that connecting online is not equivalent to sitting down for coffee or taking a walk with a friend.

As bad as that was, it was only intensified by getting stuck in my head without other people telling me I was off. I had one friend that regularly spoke into my life, Ryan. He’s twelve years older than me and has four kids, but he was the only person that was walking with me. Outside of him, I was floating around in my head most days with thoughts that just shouldn’t have been there.

The year went on and some amazing things happened in the summer, not the least of which, getting engaged to an amazing woman that I hardly knew. Our engagement was followed two days later with her getting on a plane to go back to the states and me being alone again. Ryan too left the next month and I was trapped.

Insecurity came to a head. I felt the Lord tugging on my heart and as the loneliness and friendless-ness settled in in full-force, I decided to take a three week break from writing on my substitute-friend (the blog), affectionately known to blog followers as blog suicide.

I cringed on the inside, my skin was a couple sizes too big and my anxious nerves couldn’t fill it. The only thoughts in my head were my own, which only perpetuated the vanity of my loneliness. I wanted to turn to someone and let them know how I was feeling, but that was not a possibility, because it was precisely the problem. Alone. This is the way it feels.

In so many ways, I feel as though I never settled those feelings. I would soon go on a furlough in the states to marry my bride and saw friends from what seemed like a previous life. It was great to see them, but I felt like I wasn’t able to relate to them like I used to. They were great, still are, but now I’m different and I feel as though I don’t have a place. Jesus, help me.

Yet above all, I choose to believe, eyes open that my place is with the Lord, with my wonderful wife, Melissa and the only home I can have is in His will. The home in His will always involves community and friends and I’m believing Him for that, for me and my family, as we once again find ourselves here for another stint in the states.

If you made it to the bottom of this post. Do yourself a great big service and step out to make new friends and deepen the friendships that you have. We were meant to share in this life together.

the Gospel of Christ a midst the gendercide of baby girls

I have been quite reflective lately, the complexities of life and the reality of sin and evil throughout the world has wracked my mind at times. It can be so evident at times and yet, I can feel crippled to really do something about what it is that I see. I believe in the gospel of Christ that says there’s something better, something that the majority of the people in the world aren‘t recognizing. In that midst, along with my own failings, I can become discouraged.

Discouraged by the injustice that is everyday before me. Discouraged that I see myself making stupid, sinful mistakes myself. Discouraged by the futile thought patterns that we often hold. Discouraged that people remain homeless and hopeless, hungry and without love, lost and confused, thirsty and not coming to the Living Water of Christ.

But I believe in a gospel that speaks otherwise. A gospel that speaks life and truth in a world that sometimes seems bent towards death and deception.

I just read an article on the gospel coalition that talked about the worldwide gendercide of little girls. In other countries this sometimes looks like straight up infanticide, but most prominently through abortion of baby girls that are identified through an ultrasound. We aren’t just talking about China and India here, though we are, but we are talking about the United States. I watched a chilling video where a woman makes it abundantly clear to a Planned Parenthood employee that she is going to have an abortion through them if she finds out that it is a girl. I felt sick to my stomach.

I recalled our prenatal appointment in Tanzania where we found out the sex of our baby. In preparation for a gender reveal on my birthday, we had the doctor write the gender in a card that we would give to a friend to make either pink or blue cupcakes. After our doctor became the first person to know the sex of our child, she asked us if we were hoping for a boy or a girl, I replied, “we just want a healthy child.” She smiled and said she believed that was the best response. She then told me that other families will have her do an ultrasound and will cry if they find out they’re having a girl.

That weekend we found out that we were having a girl. We celebrated, we rejoiced over her life and what we believe God is going to do through her.

What’s a father to feel when he realizes that had this precious little girl been placed in the womb of a woman other than his wife, she may have been aborted? Sadness, that’s what he feels. He grieves how far we’ve all fallen.

But I believe in a gospel that speaks otherwise. A gospel that says every person regardless of gender has value and a purpose to be fulfilled according their God-given calling. And that’s what I will teach my daughter and every child after that, that’s what I teach the Tanzanian orphans that call me “baba.”

It can be a scary thing to be an adult and realize the complexities of our existence, the ways that people hurt one another and furthermore that sin even comes through our own hands, then to decide that we are going to bring another life into this world. But the gospel of Christ is about redeeming those things, about calling life out of death, bringing light into the darkness, salt into blandness and loving in the face of hate and evil.

I am bringing my daughter into that higher reality: God’s Kingdom, Jesus’ Gospel.

———————-
From TGC: “The House began debate Wednesday on a bill that would ban abortions based on the sex of a child. According to the Washington Post, the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA) would punish doctors up to five years in prison for performing abortions because parents are seeking a child of the other sex.” You can sign a petition in support of this movement at www.protectourgirls.com

Don’t forget that there’s beauty in this world

Good night, I’m listening to Kari Jobe and its putting me on the verge of tears as I read my Bible. Normally I wouldn’t admit to listening to such girly worship music, but as I sat down by the pool at this campsite I needed music that would drown out most of the distractions. I searched for worship music that I wouldn’t know most of the words to and landed on her album. Good choice. Today’s Old Testament reading is from Isaiah. There’s a lot of what people would call doom and gloom as I read through the first several chapters, but I see something else.

I think we miss the point often. Its takes getting out and doing something new to open my eyes to the beauty around me. We headed out to Tanga this weekend for a visit to the beach. This afternoon we went snorkeling and saw some incredible wildlife and stunning panoramas. We’re talking about pictures that you thought were only existent in calendars and greeting cards. But its neither of those, its God’s beautiful, breath-taking creation right in front of you. A thousand words aren’t able to depict.

Back in Moshi, life is life. I pray Dodger is staying in the fence at our friends’ place as we‘re away, the kids at TOA are going about business as usual, and so many things are not the least bit settled in regards to Melissa and I coming back to the states in a few weeks. It can be scary to think about. It can be daunting to ponder all the changes that are coming and the coming instability that seems apparent. No income, no house, no car, no clue, baby on the way. This is my family.

It would be quite easy to go down the mind trail that says I’m a poor leader of my family; a husband without a job and a daddy without a home. It would be equally easy to follow that train of thought further to where my family will suffer for my shortcomings. Given the fact that I really do miss the point often, especially spiritually, this isn’t too much of a stretch.

All that doom and gloom.

As I look at the children playing in the water before me, I breathe deep. God is good. He does beautiful things. Ryan’s son, Benjamin is playing in the water. He jumps in, he dives, he swims, he laughs, he plays with his siblings and makes new friends. He’s a delight and a heritage to his parents.

The Lord planted a good vineyard for His people, a beautiful field. His heart bled for His people, His longing was for them. It broke His heart to have a harvest of bad fruit. Yet, He chose a remnant out of it all that would be for Him a heritage and a delight.

I’m not preparing to fail, I am not preparing to be overwhelmed, I am preparing for beauty. I am preparing for God to do a beautiful thing in my life. He has chosen to do it in a largely peculiar manner and while I can’t say whether or not the coming season will be as turbulent as it seems it will, I know that God is beautiful and His movement in our lives follows suit.

Power that sometimes feels like less

It was a late night after having worship with friends over at Ryan and Stacy’s house. Melissa and I got home and hung out in our room a little before deciding to turn off the light and actually try sleeping. 10 PM. This has actually become early for me. I have this bad habit of staying up late at night because it’s potentially one of my only opportunities to just be by myself in the quiet. The problem with that is that I have to get up early Monday through Friday and it makes me sleep late. Late to bed, late to rise, late to TOA, bad missionary. But not tonight. After a few minutes of thoughts in my head, I nod off.

About forty-five minutes later, I wake up in a lot of discomfort. Mosquitoes. I hate these blood-sucking, malaria-giving, good-for-nothing-but-killing little insects. I had checked the mosquito net before going to sleep, but apparently one got in through the whole Dodger put in the net or it was hiding under the bed. When a mosquito bites in the middle of the night, it intensifies the discomfort and the mosquito last night bit me squarely on the bottom of my right foot and again on my left ankle. It wasn’t just itchy, it was painful. I couldn’t stand it, I had to get up.

I walked into the bathroom to act as though I was doing something other than just getting up because I was frustrated. Who was I fooling? I didn’t need to go. I walked into the kitchen and got a drink. I then paced in the hallway briefly, praying, pleading that the Lord would kill the mosquito in the net, so that I could hopefully just get some much needed rest. My feet still in a lot of discomfort, I got back in bed and pulled covers over me so that the mosquito couldn’t bite me. Its too hot for these. I took the covers back off; totally open myself up for the mosquito’s second course.

Powerless. That’s how I felt. Truly, I had a small problem. A mosquito was disturbing my sleep and in the midst of that problem, I felt totally powerless, whimpering in prayer as I paced my hallway.

That night at worship, we had been praying for people in the group that had pain in their joints. One guy who hurt his shoulder the previous night playing basketball, a teenager with a hurt knee and an older woman whose been told she needs her knees replaced. The first guy felt better movement in his shoulder, but still some soreness. The second guy said that he felt much better, like he felt fine. And we prayed and sang over the lady and she felt heat in her knees, but wasn’t healed in her body. I prayed for them along with the others. We prayed that the Holy Spirit would release the healing as He’s done throughout all of history.

And yet, I concede, that in the middle of the night, I felt powerless against this stupid mosquito. Its an interesting juxtaposition. Humbly, I confess, that I’m missing something.

The words of Jesus in Acts 1:8: “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to me in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth.”

Power. Can I just say that I don’t understand things? Jesus says that I will receive power when the Spirit comes upon me. He says that for all of us that receive the Holy Spirit. I believe unflinchingly that God moves in the same way today as He did in the first century and as He did in the beginning of time. He is the same. Jesus said that it was good that He was leaving because then He would send the Holy Spirit (John 16:7). The Holy Spirit, who comes in power, is then dispersed throughout multitudes of people, instead of just the One.

Its hard though, I’ve talked countless times about Awadhi’s healing and I feel powerless often. I’ve prayed countless times, I’ve laid hands on him, I’ve fasted and no physical progress yet. Another juncture to decide whether I’ll press in or back off and give up. And not only with him, but with other areas of my life where I feel as though I’m not making progress, not walking in power as I ought to.

God continues to hold on to me though and His power is shown even when the physical doesn’t change. Awadhi is still deaf and HIV+ in the physical, my friend who needs new knees still has messed-up knees in the physical. But as she said with blessed assurance, she’s received her healing, she’s just waiting for it to manifest in the physical. Despite what it looks like in the physical, hope is not lost.

Paul blesses the Roman church saying that they might “abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13). Hope itself comes from the power of the Holy Spirit. Hope. Hope that God is still at work; hope that things in the spirit are waiting to be shown in the physical; hope that sickness, death and sin don’t have the last word. That’s powerful stuff right there.

Lord, let my hope not be deferred, let my heart not grow sick. I believe the desire is still to be fulfilled and its arrival will be like a tree of life.

 

 

(final prayer adapted from Proverbs 13:12)