Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The {story}

Imagine you are not a Christian. Imagine you have never heard of the Gospel, and you have no idea who Jesus really is. Take out all of your preconceived ideas and beliefs surrounding God and create a blank slate in your mind.

Let me tell you a story while you are in this mindset.

Before the Earth was created, there was God. God was, He just was. He created man and woman and He loved them, oh how He loved them.  Man and women were tempted, enticed by their own evil desires, and drawn into sin, which literally broke the Father's heart. The sin carried out by the man and woman separated them from God, and hurt generation after generation after generation... God is absolutely perfect- there is no blemish in Him.  And because He is so perfect, He cannot have anything to do with sin.  God is a righteous Judge and He must punish sin because He is just.  He gave His people laws and sacrifices to atone for their sins, but the people could not fulfill the law and they continued in their sin, continually breaking the heart of their Father.  But He still loved them. The law prophesied a Savior, a Messiah who would save the people from their sins. The people were expecting Him, yet when He came, they did not recognize Him.  God knew that the only One who could take the punishment of the sins commited by the people was an Umblemished Sacrifice- No One else would do. He had to let His wrath out on One who was perfect, and because all of man is sinful, He had to send His only Son so that whoever believed in Him would not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16). Jesus came for the lost; you have murdered? I will take your punishment. You have lied? I will teach you truth. You have committed adultery? I will show you true love. You are poor? I will show you real treasure. You are sick? I will heal you. You are thirsty? I satisfy. You are unqualified? I justify. You are lonely? I will be with you. You are weak? I am strong.  The people of His day were livid because this was not the Saviour they had expected. They wanted a strong, fierce ruler who would reward all their good deeds and works. Yet they received Jesus, the Son of God who was dining with the "sinners" and spending all of His time with the "least of these". They were outraged. They placed Him on a cross, nailed His hands to the wood for the flesh to rip as they held His body on the pole. They gave Him a crown of thorns that pierced His head as He was mocked and spit on. The physical abuse to the Son of God was horrendous, but this was not the punishment that saved us. The act that separates Jesus from criminal isn't that He died on the cross, even though He was innocent. The act that saved us is that the wrath of God was put on His shoulders as the Father turned to look away from His beloved Son. God is perfect, He cannot have anything to do with sin. So as Jesus obeyed the Father in taking our righteous punishment for our sin upon His shoulders, God had to separate Himself from His Son. His Perfect Son. 
That is the glorious news! We don't have to try and sacrifice anymore, no good deed will ever atone, but Jesus is enough. 

Go back, imagine you have never heard this story. Imagine the first time you listened to someone tell it to you. It is too much for you to take in and truly believe without the God of the Universe actively working in your heart. And that is the beauty.

The beauty is that even as I tell this story to my unbelieving friends, I do not have to cheapen it- I don't have to be the coauthor and add my own twists, I don't have to leave out parts in fear of judgment, I don't have to change it at all. 

Jesus commanded that we share what He has done in our lives, so that is what I do. I pray for the people that I tell it to, I pray that He opens their hearts to the truth, I pray that he clarifies misunderstandings, and He does. God works in the heart and all I have to do is tell the story with action and truth. 

I encourage you to tell the story and trust God to draw His people to Him. He is so glorious. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Updating {Casa Hogar Elim}

             One of the babies!

                       Little N!


I think too often I find myself only telling the good, happy, sweet, sugar-coated stories when it comes to mission work. I come home from a trip, and I am bombarded with questions and requests for stories, and quite literally my mind jumps towards the stories that people want to hear and passed the ugly ones that make people incredibly uncomfortable; that children will still be starving when I leave, that there are still orphans struggling to survive, and that there are still so many that need to know Jesus. I'm not trying to downsize the great things that God does on mission trips- trust me, what He does through people is amazing, but I think there is an element that we miss when we forget just how much we still need Him.

I arrive at an orphanage located on the outskirts of a major border town of Mexico. I was here a year ago, spending the week after Christmas with these precious children. Some of the children recognize me and we embrace each other as if we have been friends for years. I thank God for these little ones, who remind how desperate I am without Christ. They know more about this whole-hearted dependence than I may ever know, but I pray to gain this mindset, oh how I pray for my heart to change. Mama Lapita (the orphanage's founder) has taught them well- they don't have anymore food for the hundred mouths to feed, they pray; they receive the needed amount, they praise Him; they don't end up getting the food; they still praise Him. This is the heart I want to have. 

I walk into the youngest babies' room and I am immediately acquainted with the overbearing, foul odor that encompasses this room. I spend time with the older girls who have somehow become responsible for raising these little ones. I pick up a 2 year old who is starving for attention, for any attention. The conditions here are appaling compared to those of the nurseries I've volunteered at in the States. The older girls leave for a little while, so Blythe and I stay behind to love on these babies. I pick up little N again and wrap her in my arms as I look over at Blythe who is embracing sweet little J. We both agree that something needs to be done about their hygiene but we are hesitant as we try to help the babies without offending any of the older girls. Because they are absent, and because the smell surrounding these children is so prevalent, and because nobody has changed them in at least a week, and because they are so helpless and could not do this on their own, we strip them of their clothes and bathe them using wipes. Little N shivers as I take her shirt off and wipe her arms with wipes. As I take off her pants, it becomes so apparent that the last changing hasn't been for several days. She hollers as Blythe tries to keep her comfortable as I change her diaper. She is so upset with us and her eyes burn black as she looks at me with so much helplessness. I tell her the hurting won't last- that cleaning is good- that she needs to be changed. She is furious as I finish bathing her and put on new clothes. Then suddenly we are done, and she forgets how much she was crying a minute ago, and she is happy and she is free

Blythe and I continue to clean the other little ones, holding them tight, desperately trying to make up for the love they've missed out on. And it isn't fair. Because even though Little N is clean tonight, she will need someone to do this tomorrow, and then the next day, and the next day after that. And in those days of need, we will be back in the US, so far from Little N. So we make it an aim to teach the older girls how to take care of the little ones without trying to look down on them. This is not their fault; when they were little and abandoned, nobody did what we have done for them. This is all they know. So we teach with love and grace just as the Father teaches us. 

Because in all reality, I am Little N. Jesus walks into my heart, and it wreaks of sin- my flesh is literally appaling to my Father. Yet even in my disgust, He picks me up and chooses to love me. Jesus comes and says it's time to clean me, time to take out all the ugly and bathe me in His righteousness. In rebellion, I cry because I am so upset with Him. He reminds me that the hurting won't last- that cleaning is good- that I need to be changed. And His blood pours over all my sin, and I am clean, and I am free.  And suddenly we are done- my sins are removed from me, I am reconciled with my Father, I am pardoned! 

But today I am reminded that this is a process. How beautiful it is to know that Jesus will be there to wash me every time. Just as I taught the girls to care for the children, Jesus has taught us to care for His. Now we ought to love one another and bring others to the cross- the most glorious cleaning of all.

This is just one of the many lessons I learned from spending time at the CHE a couple of weeks ago. All names were changed to protect the children; thank you for understanding. 


Saturday, January 11, 2014

Updating {Elise}

Yes!  An update on my best friend!  Elise and I have recently separated our blogs; we are going to have some different experiences coming up and it might get confusing trying to figure out who is doing what.  So, Elise has started her blog, which is amazing!  She is going to spend a couple months this spring in the Philippines, but I will let her tell you all about that... (Here's the link: http://eclare41810.tumblr.com)  And I will continue to be blogging on this one. 

Although Lisey and I are 2,788 miles away, I have been so blessed to be able to have such a dear friend who's heart burns for the Lord, even with the distance.  We write, we text, we call, we skype, we facetime, and we pray for each other.  It is such an incredible experience to see how God puts Elise and I through different experiences, yet often teaches us similar lessons at the same time.  I am also so thankful to be able to have this teacher-student relationship with Elise as we learn different lessons, and immediately tell the other what has been taught.  I am eternally grateful for our friendship, and I am sure we will have lots to share in the future as we do life together.


Updating {School}

School:

Since August, I have been extremely busy with finishing my high school career (graduation in June!) as a senior.  The last five months of school have consisted of many long nights, the typical list of acronyms that come along with being an IB student (EE's, IA's, TOK, etc.), applications for college, football games (go Noles!), youth group activities, and I have grown so dependent on the Lord.  There have been a lot of all-nighters finishing homework where I have had to remind myself over and over again that while the project I am working on has no eternal relevance, my attitude and reliance on God while I am completing it has eternal impact.  So, I have been trying to keep my mind on Heaven and finish this race for His glory.

This year I have been extremely blessed with being able to continue leading a high school girls' Bible study at my house, called Ladies After Christ's Example (LACE).  The group meets every other Tuesday and we unpack what the Bible has to say about being godly women; it is such an awesome opportunity as we make disciples and get so much closer to each other as Jesus molds our hearts.  I also have the blessing of being able to lead with my school's Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) club which meets every Friday in our media center.  It is such a humbling and joyous occasion every Friday as we publicly worship the Lord as random students are walking in and out of the library, trying to figure out what we could possibly be doing.  Oh, the freedom we have to serve the Lord here in America is amazing!  I pray that I never take this for granted.

Now I'll try to attempt answering everyone's number one question of the year, "What are you doing after high school?"... I have no idea.  Well, actually that is a fallacy- I have plenty of ideas, I am just waiting for God to close some doors and open some others to see where He is leading.  My ideas of my ideal future include;  I want to be a full-time missionary in Africa, I want to go to college (maybe Moody Bible Institute?), I want to be a godly mother and wife, I want to travel the world telling people about Christ, I want to finish my bucketlist, I want to teach English to adults, I want to to teach kindergarten, I want to build a school, I want to adopt- but most of all, I want to fall in love with Jesus every day.  

As of now, I am spending a month in Haiti this summer, but I am unsure of where I will be in a year.  I am unsure if I will be living in a dorm in college or a hut in the middle-of-nowhere.  But I am learning to embrace the unknown and trust Jesus in this time of unpreparedness.  I invite you on this journey with me as I await direction from God, and I encourage you to live life now, even when your future is uncharted. 

You call me out upon the waters, the great unknown, 
where feet may fail, and there I find You in the mystery,
in oceans deep, my faith will stand,
and I will call upon Your name, and keep my eyes above the waves,
when oceans rise, my soul will rest in Your embrace, 
for I am Yours, and You are mine. 

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders,
Let me walk upon the waters, wherever You would call me,
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander, 
And my faith will be made stronger, 
in the Presence of my Savior.

This song sums up my life quite well.  Thank you, Hillsong!  I love that Jesus does not wait for us to be prepared, for Him to come.  He comes in the middle of the storms, He does not wait for your life to be clean- He is here for the messy!  He came while we were still sinners.  Oh, what a glorious Savior!

In Christ's love,
Mallory