I woke up today not feeling right. I took the car to get the oil changed and had a good coffee and chat about our future with our friend Buster. By the time I got home I realized I was sick. Alannah had already thrown up the day before and had terrible diarrhea for a couple of days. As a parent a sick baby is always hard. By tonight I was really sick and getting grouchy.
We are supposed to leave Friday morning for Rio de Janeiro to see my parents before they return to brazil. They are giving us a car they had bought for their travels here and blessing us with a few days on the beach, they scored some very cheap airfare for us. The kids are excited, we feel a bit guilty but are excited about the beach and now we may not make it. There is no way we can travel, at least all of us if anyone is sick Friday morning.
I have been laying here not able to sleep because I had slept off and on this afternoon, fell asleep and woke up to get sick myself.
I am feeling a bit convicted as we had been getting a bit discouraged or lonely this week. We are expecting to be able to buy tickets soon with some tax money. We may be able to concentrate fundraising on ministry projects instead of asking people for help coming home. This is good. However as we started planning I think it has hit us how tired we are. We have been in Brazil for almost 2 years and had about 2 years of transition before that. We need to rest and be refreshed. We have moved multiple times and been homeless half the time the last two years, living in temporary locations and other peoples homes.
I think we, or at least I (Ben) began to put some hope in our visit home, hope in taxes, hope in things of the world. I began to loose sight of what matters and what is reality.
Jesus said “to gain ones life he must first loose it”. Interesting and strong words. I have come to realize though these last few years that the greatest feeling in the world is when you truly give up your life. You don’t have to be a missionary to do that. Many of you give us a sacrifice of your money regularly or semi regularly. Many of you serve in your church, a ministry or a charity giving of your time. This is all a part of it. When we no longer consider our own lives, our own comfort, our wealth or even our children and spouses to be something we would hold back from God we begin to experience true freedom.
I was worried about my kids missing seeing their grandparents and going to the beach. I was worried about my parents loosing money on tickets. I was worried about taxes not showing up. I have worried about support drying up. I have worried about many things. I am no hero of the faith. I lack faith daily.
Tonight, sick and unable to sleep because of worry I had to one more time verbally out God pray “I trust you with my kids, I trust you with my wife, I trust you with Corumba, I trust you with ministry” and so on.
I have no choice but to abandon my life to God. There is a dying sick world right outside our doors. I am not yet doing enough to show the love of God to them. I experience joy when I forget about our needs and begin with my family not apart from them to live my life, our life not for us but for the people who are dying.
The cost we might pay to obey God could be high. God said “to obey is better than sacrifice”. What does that mean, the law demanded so much sacrifice. Obedience is the ultimate sacrifice.
Have we completely turned over all aspects of our life to God. Our we willing to trust him with our health, finances, lives, lives of our children. Our we abandoning everything we hold dear into his care and willing to go wherever that may lead.
We just passed carnaval here. A very ungodly celebration of sin that makes mardi gras look no more wholesome but does make it look small. Churches all go to retreats here and tend to be fundamentally opposed to evangelism. I got very frustrated with the attitude of people the last two years. For me when people are sinning the most it should be when they are most aware it doesn’t satisfy.
I am realizing tonight that abandonment to God may mean loneliness, perhaps the church wont like you if you start having gays and prostitutes, drug addicts and prisoners over for dinner. You will probably here speeches about how Christians shouldn’t go there or you need to protect your kids. How can I worry about what others think or how comfortable I am when the eternal state of someone may hang in the balance. Even more what if I and my family can be used or you and your family to disciple someone to live a better life and disciple others to a better life, …… How many generations of how many families could be changed if we quit thinking of ourselves?
We may begin to feel tired. We may not want to go on. I feel that way now just waiting for the next trip to the toilet. I am realizing only the hope of heaven can cure me. If I am thinking of myself I don’t have what it takes to live here, to stand against the church, to return and love the church, to see my babies sick, to see them miss a vacation, etc...…..
I was encouraged last week by 1 Peter 1:13-17
13Therefore, preparing your minds for action,a and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”
Please no the sacrifice you make to keep us here is equal abandonment to any we make. Please no that though I don’t always do a good job sharing stories of the lives you touch you are touching them. I am not looking to get people to pray prayers but to teach them to live like the scriptures above. It is happening. We seen some kids get saved and start showing desire to grow in Foz. We are seeing Melissa start to have even more of that impact here on our street. She is amazing.
Pray as I turn my focus back to ministry from establishing our family here that we can impact and disciple desperately lost people to a life of total abandonment and reckless obedience. To true holiness obeying what God has commanded not just avoiding some no nos like carnaval.
We love and miss you all. Hope to see many if not all of you in July and August. Let us know if you want us to try and come to your church or area.
Grace and peace to you all,