These past few weeks have been an onslaught of sickness, setback, and turmoil. It honestly had me questioning if I was doing the right thing by starting the blog and podcast. I started wondering if maybe all of these things popping up right as I was starting were God’s way of telling me that I shouldn’t be doing it. As I started praying about it, the Lord kept bringing things in front of me that reminded that good things are always hard. I think this needs to be hung up somewhere in my house, because I seem to need that reminder often.
Last year, my kids and I read the story of Gladys Aylward. Now that is a story of adversity. She was a missionary in China in the 30’s. Here is the crazy thing, she was kicked out of missionary school and told that she would never make it as a missionary. But she knew that God was calling her to the mission field. She had such faith that God would make a way. The story really is worth reading in detail. She had to scrimp and save as a housekeeper to even afford the train ticket to get to China. She got stranded several times on her way there, she was detained and had most of her belongings stolen in Russia, she was almost kidnapped once, and when she finally got there she was thought to be a “white devil” among the locals. Her only help was an elderly missionary whom she had only heard of, but never met. But she wouldn’t be deterred. She was determined to reach the lost for God’s glory.
Gladys wasn’t anyone special. She hadn’t been trained. She wasn’t a scholar. In fact her family was so poor that she had to leave school at 14 and became a maid to help support them. She had everything going against her, but she loved God and trusted that this was His calling on her life. It was due to her faithfulness that many people came to trust in Christ. Obviously it was God who softened their hearts and drew them to Himself, but it was Gladys who delivered the gospel to them. God opened so many doors for her that enabled her to bring the gospel forth. She rescued around 100 orphans, officially adopting 5 of them (unofficially adopting many more). She reformed a prison, boldly stood up to the Mandarin saying that she would only take on a position he asked her to take if she could tell the people she met about the true God, and she eventually evacuated the city she lived in when Japan invaded the province and bombed the city. For months, she took care of the people from the village and all of her 100 children while living in caves to hide from the Japanese. She would eventually lead the children on a 100 mile trek over a mountain to escape and get to safety. 100 children, over a mountain, on foot! By the time she got to her destination, she collapsed from supreme exhaustion, typhus, pneumonia, relapsing fever, and malnutrition. But you know what she did as soon as she recovered? She got back to work sharing the gospel.
It is truly an amazing story! I reflect on it often when I am feeling like something is too much for me. I have to ask myself, is it really too much, or am I just lazy? I’m sure Gladys had moments where she questioned whether she was crazy or if she could really do all that she was trying to do. She was human, after all, but she did it anyway. Had she waited for circumstances to be perfect, to be better studied or have enough money to do things in an easier way, she probably never would have left England and all of those souls never would have been reached.
If we choose to wait until circumstances are perfect in our life, how will that affect those we may be able to reach? What are you hesitating to take the plunge on because you are scared or you don’t think you are ready for it? You will always be better tomorrow. You will know more, have more experience, be (hopefully) more sanctified, but just because the future version of yourself is better, doesn’t mean that the present version has nothing to offer. God wants to use you, right now where you are and with the skills you currently have. As you grow and are obedient, He will provide more opportunities. A good picture of this would be in the parable of the talents.
Jesus tells the story in Matthew 25:14-30 of three servants who are given a sum of money based on their ability from their master to steward as he goes on a long trip. When the master comes back, two have invested wisely and turned a profit on their allowance. However, the third, who was given the least chose to hide his talent instead of investing it, using fear as an excuse, and ends up having the only talent he was given taken away by the master for not properly stewarding the money given to him.
Our giftings are not our own. They are a gift from God. We have to answer to Him on how we use them. Are we investing them, growing and enriching His kingdom by our diligent work? Are we blessing the saints with the gifts that God has so freely given us? Or are we hoarding them to ourselves, burying them under the lie that we have nothing to offer? Allowing a lazy attitude to reign in our heart, that doesn’t want to have to work to cultivate those gifts, and thus squandering the opportunities that God has given us to bless others.
Don’t get me wrong, make wise decisions. Seek wise counsel when you are unsure if what you are trying to do is right. We do sometimes look to the giftings of others and seek to emulate them, rather than look to the Lord to show us our personal giftings and how He wants to use them for His glory. However, it is more often that we know what God would have us do, but we let the fear of failure or the fear of the judgment of others to cause us to hesitate.
When I reflect back on these few weeks of blogging and podcasting, it can be easy to get discouraged and start to wonder if I am crazy for taking it on. But when I seek God, I know that those are just lies that I am allowing myself to believe. Look to God for the answers. James 1:5-8 says:
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
Don’t forget that God says that we have to ask for wisdom in faith. We have to go to Him, trusting that He will supply the answer. Not that He might, but that He will. Similarly, Proverbs 3:5-6 says:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
Don’t look to yourself for the answers. Let His word inform your choices. Allow it to transform your thinking, setting your mind on the Word anytime it starts to wander to sinful or selfish things. Trust in the Lord, ladies. He is good and His plan for your life is always better than the one you devise yourself.