Wednesday, July 7, 2010

El Salvador Reflections

God has recently been teaching me important things concerning my trip to El Salvador, and building on what He taught me while I was there. Each day I was there, it seemed like my devotions were always about one thing: faith. To be honest I wasn't quite sure why it kept coming up over and over every single day, but God knows exactly what I need at exactly the right time.
In order to explain what God has been doing in my life, I would like to share a little bit about what God has been showing me through His Word.

June 2nd, our first morning there, I wrote in my journal, "Faith: Trust when all else fails." Completely trust in God. Trust in the sufficiency of God's grace and the strength of His will to carry me through. I read that day in Colossians 1 to "walk worthy of the Lord". I knew that while I was there I needed to walk worthy of my calling, yet also depend solely on the Lord to do so.

On June 3rd I read Matthew 5:14-16, which says "You are the light of the world." and tells us to "let your light so shine before men".

On the 4th, 2 Thessalonians 1:11 told me, "With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of His calling, and that by His power He may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith."

June 5th's devotions were mainly about prayer, and the power it has. Christ is our life, and our reliance is on Him. Pray and wait for the Lord. Colossians 4:2 says "Devote yourselves to prayer, be watchful and thankful".

On June 6th, God continued to remind me of what He had already been teaching me. Habakuk 2:4 says that the righteous will live by faith. Matthew 26:41 tells us to "watch and pray". 1 Thessalonians 1:3 says, "We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ"

June 7: Faith creates an atmosphere in which hope thrives. Faith keeps us looking forward. [our best days are ahead]. Faith is like a ship; the strength of a ship is only fully demonstrated in the midst of a hurricane. Have faith in God even when things go bad [especially when they do]. 1 Thessalonians 2:12 tells us to "live lives worthy of God, who called you into His kingdom and glory".

On June 8th, my prayer journal had something in it that I think we should tell God every day. Father, thank You for Your grace. You deserve my best today, because You gave Your best on the cross, Amen. It is a simple prayer, yet very profound. Galations 3:11-12 again tells that the just shall live by faith. We have salvation by faith alone, through grace alone, in Christ alone.
Faith can change any situation, no matter how dark.

June 9th: Faith working through love. While I was in El Salvador, I immediately knew what God was teaching me here, and I could put it into immediate practice. That day He also taught me to trust Him. Hebrews 13:5b-6: God has said, "Never will I leave you; Never will I forsake you." So we say with confidence, "The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?" The eagle that soars great altitudes does not worry about how it will cross a river. Put your trust in God.

June 10th: Strengthen my faith. Job asks, "How can a man be found righteous?" (Job 25:4). Paul answers, "Faith." (Rom. 3:28). Faith is a divine gift. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, "Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."

On June 11th I wrote that faith is only as valuble as the value of its object (where it is placed). Faith must be founded on God to be worth anything, but when it is, it's worth everything. Mark 11:22 tells us to "have faith in God". What causes us to pray such little prayers to such a big God? Why are our dreams so small, when our faith is in the Lord of heaven and earth who has unlimited resources and power? I read 2 Thessalonians 1:11 again which says, " With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God might count you worthy of His calling, and that by His power He may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith."

June 12: We are saved by a faith that works. I want to make my life count. Make an eternal difference in this world. James 2:20 says that faith without works is dead. 1 Corinthians 1:5 tells us that God has enriched us. Our faith must be producing works.

June 13th. I want Christ on the inside to be what the world witnesses on the outside. I am grateful because God is more gracious that I deserve. 2 Thessalonians 3:1 says, "Finally, brothers, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you". That's what it's all about!

June 14th. Mark 9:23 says that everything is possible for he who believes! Faith honors God and God honors faith.

Now, if your like I was at the time, you might be wondering how all these random thoughts fit together, and what the big picture is. About this time I was thinking, well I learned some new things about faith, trust, light, and prayer, but I just am not sure what God is trying to tell me. I am so thankful that God is so patient with me. Look how much He had to teach me about faith for me to finally get it, and even now, I have a long way to go when it comes to faith. But here's what happened after I got home.

It was a drastic adjustment coming home, to say the least. The trip for me was such a whirlwind, having just graduated three days earlier, and having college orientation two days after. After orientation, and a few days to catch up on sleep (and by few I mean about 3), it was time for camp. For the past couple of years now, I have been going to youth camp with my church. This year was my last because I was a senior. I love camp and am always excited to go, but I wasn't as hyped this year as I usually am. I was excited about the band that was there [my favorite: Stephen Cole Band], but thats about it. Satan really wanted to steal a lot of people's joy at camp, and he worked in many different ways.

But God is greater and stronger and so much more powerful. From the first night I knew one thing that God was teaching me: in the darkness, God's light shines. That is a line from the song "You deserve", but I felt as though God was speaking straight to me. I had been upset and sad for the people I met in El Salvador. I was questioning why these terrible things had happened to them, while almost nothing has to me. I felt helpless, and I desperately wanted to do something for them or somehow make everything better for them, but I couldn't. I also had been wondering how such dark and terrible things could happen, and how such a vulnerable and innocent person could be placed in such a situation. But God said to me, "I am shining there. The darker the place, the brighter I can shine." Wow. What a comfort to me! It sounds so simple, but this "easy" concept gave me such peace in just a moment. It's like I was trying to depend on myself, or the situation, or what other people can do. I was putting parts of my faith in other things, which as I had learned, is useless. So I knew now that God light was still shining there, but now what do I do? I still love these people, and care so much about them, but can do nothing for them. I was still struggling with some of the same thoughts, and dealing with the complexity of it all. One night, the band was singing, and it was as if God spoke to me in the midst of the song.
There is no one higher "Jo, what do you think I have been trying to tell you all along?
No one greater Trust Me.
No one like our God Put your faith in Me.
There is none more able Pray in faith for those people.
Christ our Savior I am all you need, and I am all they need.
Great and Glorious I shine there. Just have faith."

Now, I am so thankful for God's timing, faithfulness, and patience with me. I am blessed that He would speak to me. I am thankful for His grace and love. I am so blessed for all of you who God put in my life who prayed for me and supported me on this trip. A prayer in faith goes farther than you'll ever know. Thank you for being so generous; your support has changed many lives, including my own! I would love with all my heart to go back to El Salvador. But I know that God is in control, He is there with them, and He is all they need. He is able. Just have faith.