Teacups in the Jungle

Life stories from a missionary mama

A few weeks ago, something caught my eye. It caused me to drop what I was doing and run for my camera. A family was moving house here in the village, which doesn’t seem like a big deal….until you look out the window and see this; they were moving the entire house!
It was astounding to me as I watched and as I realized yet again that a family can live, survive and even thrive in a little house that can literally be picked up and moved.  We have lived here in the Philippines for 10 years now and what I have appreciated so much about living in a different culture, is that it often challenges my perspective. As I stood on the side of the road, this particular Sunday afternoon, the scene before me didn’t just challenge my perspective in life; it put so much of life itself into perspective for me. I saw within myself, that I can so easily set down roots into the temporal things around me and begin to worry over things, that Jesus never asked me to be burdened with.
The truth is, sometimes I lay awake at night wondering about what our future may hold.  It usually happens in the wee hours of the morning, that I will lay awake and wonder what is ahead. Where we will live one day? Will we have a house? Which country should we live in? How complicated will it be for Danny to one day live in N.Ireland or for me to live in the States? Where will we go next after our ministry here? It is then, that the Holy Spirit will often bring verses such as these to my mind:
Matthew 6:19-21 “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in Heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through to steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
Matthew 6:33 “But seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”
Colossians 3:2 “Set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth.”
I can usually tell where my heart is anchored by looking at what I am overwhelmed with the most.  The weight of the world, the stresses of this temporal life, or the wonderful love and grace of God. If I am chasing my own desires; I will most likely become weighed down with their burdens. However, if I am treasuring Christ and His desires for my life, I will most definitely be lifted, moment by moment, by His grace. So, as I read these verses, in light of my worrying heart, I realize I have a choice each time these worries spring to mind. I can focus on how we do not necessarily have a permanent house in this world and be overwhelmed with the insecurities that can bring, or, I can pay attention to the grace of God and how we have had a roof over our head every night of our lives. One small moment, one small “setting my mind on things above” that weighs in with eternal consequences and leads my thoughts in a direction of “seeking first the Kingdom of God.” God has placed eternity within our hearts and I want to live in a way that is mindful of Him. The world will continue to rush me, pressure me, hustle me, demand attention from me and yet, softly and tenderly God whispers into my heart; “You are mine, walk accordingly.” A few months ago I read Lysa Terkeurst’s book, “The Best Yes.” I loved these two quotes from her book.

“Remember the decisions you make determine the schedule you keep. The schedule you keep determines the life you live. And how you live your life determines how you spend your soul.”

“We want big directional signs from God. God just wants us to pay attention.”

He wants us to pay attention to Him. Could this be, simply speaking, what it looks like to be; “living in light of eternity”? The glory of eternity, Jesus, reflecting right back into my ordinary life, causing me to live from a place of worship and honor to Him. Whether we are living in a little grass hut that can be picked up and moved or living in homes that have been passed from one generation to the next; God is asking for our hearts and our affections. When we treasure Jesus in whatever circumstances He has placed us, He will return to us in abundance, gems of contentment, gratefulness, peace and joy that shine victoriously through our everyday, ordinary lives. I often try to filter the worries that burden my heart, decisions that need to be made and even my reactions to situations through that well known phrase, “in light of eternity.” It has a way of helping me realize that some things are not worth my energy right now, while other things are absolutely worth the sacrifice. However, as much as this can be a good filter to have in place, there is a greater purpose to be living for than the significance of eternity; and this is, Jesus Himself. I was reading, yesterday morning, in Pslams 89:15  and this verse popped right out of the page to me:
“Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound: they shall walk, O Lord, in the light of thy countenance.”
Or simply speaking, they will walk in “light of your presence.”  I just love that phrase. It is so rich in truth, filled with grace, and it spurs me on to live well, as I abide in the presence of Jesus today. We have all been given lives of purpose, by our Creator God, as He invites us to walk each day, living in light of His presence. The fact that we get to live our lives for Him and serve Him, should not feel like a duty we are bound to. Instead, I want to have a response like that of the Psalmist’s when he wrote, “..I delight to do your will, O my God.” Whether the gifts that we are able to bring to Him are great or small, seen or unseen does not belittle the obedience.  Jesus sees and accepts those small offerings, given in faith and He transforms it all into eternal significance.
I can honestly look back on my life and see I have made some of my best decisions when I stopped and thought of them in light of eternity. They were pivotal moments for me as I sought to follow the Lord’s will for my life. However, when I pay attention to the truth that I am, daily, living in light of His presence, it challenges me to dwell in gratitude and reverence, because of what He has done for me. It quickens within me a desire to know Him more and to do His will, even in the midst of the simple and mundane. His presence brings value to my days, even (or especially) the ones that I could easily write-off as unimportant. He is revealing Himself in great, glorious, small and beautiful ways, through the joys and the heartaches of this life. However, I have to keep asking myself, over and over again; am I paying attention?
Maybe like me, you need this reminder, too, to take a look at the temporal things in our life for what they are, and to move out of our comfort zone, as we seek after the eternal things of God. I long to spend my soul wisely for Jesus, not only, because one day I will have the joy of standing before Him, but because He is already standing with me today, redeeming my every moment, with His presence. To me, this is an amazing, humbling, and oh so significant truth in seeking to live life to the fullest and yet leaving room to embrace and savor the small. It is my heart’s desire, to not just be busy with serving the Lord in light of eternity, but to live in obedience and adoration, in light of His glorious presence, today.
Psalm 40:8 “I delight to do your will, O my God…”

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

The photo above is of our Daily Vacation Bible School (D.V.B.S) which started today! We would really appreciate your prayers, if you think of us this week. (April 6-10). Please pray for the children as they come each day to listen to the Word of God and for the helpers as they teach the kids.
Easter Sunday Service.
With love from the jungle tonight,
Philippa.

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