Teacups in the Jungle

Life stories from a missionary mama

In just a few weeks, Danny and I will pack up our house and begin the process of moving our family and our belongings as we begin a new ministry to an unreached area in Northern Luzon.  As much as we have been preparing our hearts and minds for this in the past 6 months, it seems time has just flown by and now the reality of the goodbyes and the logistics of transitioning from one remote jungle village to another are upon us.

My friend, Julie, texted me last week and asked how I was doing with it all. I replied; “As much as I know the big picture of where the Lord wants us – I stress so much about coloring between the lines.” What I meant was, I have peace about the big move and what we are doing, but I worry and fret over all the details of how we will get there and all that involves. It was a simple comment that seemed to pop out of nowhere, but I’ve thought about it over the past few days, because our thoughts and responses if we listen closely, tell us so much about our soul beliefs.

The truth is, I know so well that God will take care of us, that He has a plan for each day of our lives and that He will provide for our every need. I know this because I believe what He says is true. However, then somewhere along the way I take each little decision back into my own hands and I listen to a lie; a lie that says I am in control of all the details along the way. The fruit of that lie? Worry, stress, sleepless nights and a lack of joy in the waiting. When I follow the reality of my feelings back to the truth of God’s Word, it exposes that lie and then shows me a better, lighter way – to live each day resting in the presence and promises of Jesus.

Matthew 11:28

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

I had actually forgotten about that text with my friend, until this morning when I handed Judah a picture to do for his school work. He has been learning his numbers and I had printed him off a coloring page which was color by numbers. Along the bottom of the page it had the the colors and numbers he had to follow to complete it successfully. It was a dinosaur picture which I knew he would have fun doing. However, when I put it in front of him and explained what it was, instead of a smile, he grimaced, “Mama, I can’t do it, I can’t read the colors at the bottom. I will mess it up!” Sure enough, because I had printed it off in black and white, the words which were written out in the co-ordinating color where all the same and he is not yet able to read, brown, blue, white etc.

I smiled to myself, remembering the thoughts I had just a week  before.  Like my little four year old boy, even though I could see the big picture and it was good, I was worried about messing it up, concerned with how I was going to do it all.

I quickly got another piece of paper. “I know Judah, I will make you a color code, then you can easily follow it and know exactly what to do next.” Getting a blank piece of paper I wrote out the numbers with a squiggle of the color he was to use right beside it. He nodded, seeing the next step ahead. “But Mama, what if I forget the numbers?” “You won’t son, I said, you know the numbers, but if you forget, Mama is right here beside you to help you out.” He grinned up at me, relieved to know what he was to do and excited now to see the outcome. There was joy and a song as he colored away and I watched him wondering if I could learn the same life lesson as easily.

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Our Heavenly Father doesn’t just call us to a new place, a new ministry, a new job, a new stage in life, a new situation or opportunity and then stand back and leave us on our own to struggle and figure it all out. He doesn’t just want us to work and serve Him, He wants us to know Him, to experience Him, to believe Him, love Him and trust Him with all our heart and soul.

  • He doesn’t just call us to follow Him – but He listens to the deepest needs of our heart.
  • He doesn’t just show us His will – but He reveals more and more of Himself as we step out to follow Him.
  • He doesn’t just give us something to do – He does something within us, beyond what we could ever hope or imagine.
  • He doesn’t just send us to a new place – He dwells within us wherever we go.
  • He doesn’t expect me to handle all things perfectly – but He perfects all that concerns me, as I hand it all over to Him time and time, again.

His bigger picture extends far beyond what I could ever see, but I can trust and believe that it is eternally good and always for His glory.

Isaiah 55: 8-9

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

Just like I gave Judah a code he could follow, our Heavenly Father has given us a guide to follow in the Truth of His Word. He has communicated and given to us everything we need to lead a victorious, peaceful, contented life, no matter what circumstance we are in, but we must believe and obey. And in His grace, knowing how weak and frail we are, He walks personally before us and His spirit dwells within us to convict us, teach us, pray for us when we have no words and to give us the strength when ours is gone. As we set off on a new journey, we can rest knowing He is the One who directs our every step. (Jeremiah 10:23)

Even as I write that out, I feel the relief that truth brings washing over me. I am only able to do what is right in front of me and, with the Lord’s help, the next step is always doable. I am not to worry about the design of the big picture, I am just to faithfully respond to the Lord today and to enjoy His presence with me.

When little Judah had finished his picture this morning, the first thing he did was to pick it up and come running to me. “Mama, I finished it all and I did it for you!”

I picked it up and looked it over, the numbers and colors were correct, I could easily make out the picture of the dinosaurs, but there was also a hole in the page from where he had pressed too hard and a few times he was well outside the line – it wasn’t perfect. However, in that moment I was no longer his teacher, but simply his Mama who could hear no more precious words than, “I did it for you.” I took it, hugged him and told him how proud I was of all he had done and hung it on the wall. A remembrance for us both.

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This is the bigger eternal picture that I want to keep before me as we walk through these months of transition, the hard goodbyes and the struggles we may face along the way; “Well done good and faithful servant.” I want to live it all, each and every day for my Heavenly Father. I want to get to the end of this day, this stage in ministry, this life that I have been given and hold it up by the grace of God and say, “I did it all for You.” I know it won’t be perfect and I will color many times outside the lines, but praise God for His grace, His mercy and His love which accepts us and all we have to offer Him. We have eternal peace with God and He gifts us this holy privilege to please Him in all that we do, because of the precious blood of His Only Begotten Son.

I don’t know the “picture” the Lord may have placed before you today – that hard thing, that difficult relationship, that hurt in your heart that feels too difficult to deal with. But I want to encourage you to remember and believe that His plan is good. He is faithful and He will make a way through even this, as you believe in Him and live in light of His Word. So often we struggle and we suffer because we want to see the whole picture and know exactly how it will all work out, before we commit to choosing His way; but that is not trust. God wants us to put hands and feet to the whisper of our hearts, “Lord, we believe You.” And what a beautiful canvas of God’s faithfulness, kindness and grace He will weave into our lives as we seek Him with all our heart and soul and leave Him to color in the provision of “all these things” that He knows we need along the way.

Matthew 6:33

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

With love and thankfulness for all your prayers,

Philippa.

 

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