Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Dream Job

Our family has faced some struggles recently.  The only way I know to describe them is that we feel “pressed in upon.”  Circumstances and conversations recently have left us wrestling through some negative feelings toward other people.  We are praying for the “heart of Christ” toward every person we encounter.  We are praying to have “His eyes” in every circumstance.  We are praying to “forgive as we have been forgiven.”  We are praying for “patience and perseverance” to run the race well - finishing strong.

Emotionally, I felt a downward spiral toward the end of last week.  I cried often.  Most of the time without a reason I could put into words.  My mind battled to “take very thought captive,” but often I failed.  My heart longed for comforts from home - friendships, family, familiarity, etc...  Even within our own home, I felt so alone.  Completely isolated.  Everything FELT SO HARD.    

On Sunday morning, I was in the shower begging God to fill in the gaps.  It seemed there were so many holes in my life.  “Please God, be my ALL-IN-ALL!  You promise your grace IS sufficient, so please help me to KNOW that!”  God seemed to whisper, “You already know this Truth.  You simply need to walk in it.”

A few moments later, we sat down to breakfast as a family... 

Before we left Knoxville, my family created a gift for us to bring to Ghana.  It was an acrylic box filled with 365 little slips of paper containing written memories, Bible verses, jokes, and little surprises for the boys.  My sisters, their families, and my parents filled a box with love for us to bring to Ghana.  

Each day our family was supposed to pull out one slip of paper and share it with the family.  When we arrived last June, we read one paper every single day.  Over time though, we slipped out of the habit of reading these bits of encouragement from our family.  I'm not sure if we stopped because it was hard to be reminded of home or if it was because other things filled in the time, but either way, we realized it was something we wanted to start doing again.

January always brings new beginnings and this year, one of the “fresh starts” for us was pulling papers out of this little box!  This morning's breakfast time was the perfect moment in our day to read a card or two.

Mason pulled out the first card.  On it, in my niece Colby Grace’s bubbled teenage handwriting, were the words,

“And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.  Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”

2 Corinthians 12:9-10

As I remembered my conversation with the Lord from a few moments before sitting down to the table, I thought to myself, “Oh, Lord, that is exactly where I am!  Please show your power over my weaknesses!”

Inside I have battled the turmoil of “I don’t want to be here.  I want to be home.  I want to have fun.  I don’t want to be sweating all the time.  I want water and electricity all the time.  I want phone calls from friends.  I want a professional haircut.  I want to curl up with a good book.  I want my boys to be with their friends.  I want to shop in an American grocery store so I can find Hot n' Spicy Cheez Its for my boys, gingersnaps for Reid and flavored creamer for me.  I don’t want to see children without a family, because it makes me feel so helpless.  I don’t want to be so lonely.  I don't want to be reminded daily of how difficult life is for most of the world.  I don't want to be charged more because I have white skin.  I don't want to dread the police pulling me over every time I drive the car.  I don’t want to see the need here because I want to be released of responsibility.  I don't want dust all over everything.  I don't want to hand wash every single dish, cup, pot, pan, fork, knife, and spoon.  I don’t want things to feel so stinkin’ hard all the time.  I want to be comfortable.  I want to be comfortable.  I want to be comfortable.”

Blah, blah, blah...

Even as these thoughts come one after another, I know deep in my heart, this isn’t really what I want.  NOT AT ALL.  And I KNOW that, but sometimes I have to remind myself of it.  In the depths of my heart, all I really want is CHRIST.  

As we sat at the breakfast table, we discussed the verses on the card.  It's challenging scripture if you truly take it to heart.  We all admitted God was revealing weaknesses to each one of us.  Each person in our family shared areas of struggle that are being wrestled out because we live on this side of the ocean.  We recognize these are areas for pruning and growing, so that more of Christ is reflected OUT.  But, we all admitted, right now, our life “feels so hard.”

(Although it may feel hard, it isn't "too hard," as my friend Kathy would say.)

We decided we would read one more card out of the box before leaving the table.  

This card was scratched out in my nephew, Caleb’s handwriting, “What is your dream job?  Share with your family.”  

We all looked at each other astonished that this question was hinged on the verses we just read.  God’s timing is always perfect.

Mason, the first to pipe in.  He kind of laughed and immediately said, “THIS!  Exactly what we are doing now.”

Braden said, “Yeah, what we are doing now.  I want to be a missionary.”

Weston thoughtfully answered, “Well, I’d want to help with technical stuff but be a missionary too.”

We joked, “Weston, you can be a Mission Technician.  It's what you are already doing!”

Franklin shared, “I’d like to open a kids ministry downtown one day.”
We all interjected that he should have an art gallery as part of his ministry.

Godwin made us all laugh when he answered, “I want to work on cars and drive them.”

Etornam quietly revealed her dreams when she quietly spoke, “I want to sew for others, but I also want to be a missionary.”
Our family rejoiced because things are beginning to take shape for her to fulfill both dreams!  We are working with FTO to make these dreams come true for this young mother!  She would be sewing for others, but also discipling others through her work.

We chatted about some hopes for Etornam’s future, and then Reid brought us back to reflecting on the real question behind the question...

What is your dream job?

Reid was quiet, but finally he answered, “My dream job is doing what we are doing.  What we are doing seems like something worth giving our lives away for.”

“Yeah,” and head nods around the table affirmed his answer.

“Mom?  What about you?  What is your dream job?” one of the boys asked me.

In that moment, all of the thoughts from the past few days surfaced and then diminished.  Really, what is my dream job?  What if it is hard?  ...If I could do anything, anywhere, what would my dream job be?

“Doing exactly what we are doing,” I confessed.  “This really is my dream job.  What our family is doing right now has eternal impact.  Lives are being changed.  Futures altered.  As hard and difficult as it is, this is worth it.”

Oh, God needs to shake me up sometimes before I rest on the Truth.  

I’m thankful for so many gifts from God... the little box of paper cards from our family at home, for nieces and nephews who challenge our thinking, for Etornam sitting at our table, for our family who is yielding more and more.  I can even honestly write that I am thankful for the difficulties.  Without them, I’d miss opportunities to grow.  I’m thankful for my Savior who loves me, even when I am difficult and hard.  Thank you for your forgiveness, Lord.  I’m prone to wander. Lord, keep my wandering eyes fixed on you.  Lord, I thank you that you have given us the privilege, honor, responsibility and gift of going to work every day to do our “dream job.” Whether we are in the field or in our home, we are still "on mission" for you.   Lord, help us to turn to you when it "feels" hard to be reminded that YOUR power is perfected in OUR weakness.  

The longer I'm here in Ghana, the more I realize how God is shaking me up inside.

Whether I am out with the people on the roads of Ghana, or loving my husband and our boys within our home, my weaknesses seem to multiply.  Please pray for His power to multiply a thousandfold over my weaknesses!  

"The point is not me - the point is HIM."
Heidi Baker

"I don't think there is anyone who needs God's help and grace as much as I do.  Sometimes I feel so helpless and weak...  Because I cannot depend on my own strength, I rely on Him twenty-four hours a day.  If the day had even more hours, then I would need His help and grace during those hours as well."  -Mother Teresa

"And He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you for power is perfected in weakness.'  Most gladly therefore, I would rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.  Therefore, I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties; for Christ's sake, for when I am weak, then I am strong." 
2 Corinthians 12:9-10


Tyvon Jamallia Petway said...

Thanks for this post!! You are blessing to the people in Ghana and also to many back "home" who are praying for and with you!!

Seth Goggans said...

Brings tears to my eyes. It's my dream job, too! =] I pray to join you all in it again soon!