Sorry I haven't written in a while, it’s been kind of crazy. Actually it’s been the most difficult time in my life in a lot of ways, but also the greatest, if that makes sense. God has been doing amazing things in the ministry as well as in refining our hearts, but it has been a painful process. It’s not so much that the living conditions are consistently less than ideal, because we expected that. It’s the intensity of the spiritual battle day in and day out. The hardest part about being a missionary is having the recesses of the wickedness in my flesh brought out. Life's pressures here are intensified both in duration and intensity. I struggle with anger and frustrations that I didn't even know existed a few months ago. If left unchecked, they quickly turn into slander, gossip or other thoughts and conversations that should not leave the lips of anyone, let alone a follower of Christ. Most days, I find myself desperate for the Lord's help and forgiveness in one way or another. The devil seems to take a lot of cheap shots, and here I don't have the luxury of not being prepared for battle. If for some reason I miss or have to cut short my time with the Lord in the morning, I'm in trouble. The armor of God in Ephesians chapter 6, which I memorized in Sunday school years ago, has taken on a whole new meaning. In fact, many of the Scriptures that I have known for years have become so real here. For example:
“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.
Most importantly, God has opened my eyes to the magnitude of His mercy and grace that He has extended to me, a vile sinner. Mercy, by definition, is God withholding what I deserve. I deserve nothing but wrath, destruction and judgment for my wickedness. Grace, by definition, is God giving what I don’t deserve. Not only does God withhold the Hell that I deserve, he lavishes me with new life in Christ, salvation that I do not deserve. Hallelujah, what a Savior! The fact that the Holy, Holy, Holy, Just God of the Universe, would send His Son, Jesus Christ, to die for sin-saturated creatures like me is overwhelming. The only way that I can continue to serve God here in Colombia is because I know that the righteousness that He demands, He has provided. Jesus lived 33 years in perfect obedience and fellowship with the Father. The Holy Law of God that I break constantly, not only in word or deed, but in thoughts and heart, Christ obeyed and fulfilled perfectly! There was never one fraction of a second that He did not love God with ALL His heart, soul, mind and strength or fail to love others as Himself. Rather than the pure glory that He deserved, my Savior was ridiculed, mocked, beaten, spat upon, and crucified by wretched men like me. Rather than save His perfect Son from the cruel cross that He hung on, God the Father poured out the cup of His Holy Wrath against every sin that I would ever commit, to save me. Jesus Christ drank the Hell that I deserve. Proving that His payment for my sin was received and paid in full and that I was justified in His sight, God raised Christ from the dead. By pure grace, my sin in all of its perverseness was placed upon Christ on the cross of Calvary, and by more pure grace His perfect Righteousness was given to me. In spite of my sin, I can now serve the King of all Kings as a righteous man because of that exchange. Unthinkable, yet true! This Gospel is the reason I am here. This Gospel is the reason I can continue and will continue to serve God as long as His grace sustains me.
Along with the Scriptures that have become more vivid here, I often remember some of the Hymns I learned as a child. One Hymn which has been a comfort to my soul more than once here is “He Giveth More Grace”.
He giveth more grace, as the burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength as the labors increase.
To added affliction, He addeth His mercy.
To multiplied trials, his multiplied peace.
His love has no limit.
His grace has no measure.
His power has no boundary known unto man.
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus,
He giveth and giveth and giveth again.
Even as I type these words, my eyes are swelling with tears. These promises that I have known in my mind for so long are proving themselves true. He giveth more grace! His grace all sufficient shall be my supply! Even on the most difficult days here, in the most difficult moments, I find a steady, inner strength rising from within. As the doubtful thoughts creep in and I wonder why I am here, I find my spirit saying with the Apostles, “to where would we go, you alone have the words of eternal life”. I am here because my Lord and my God called me here. He is the One who purchased my soul with His precious blood. I would go anywhere for Him! Apart from His grace, I am lost, ruined, without hope. But in Christ, I can do all things through Him who gives me strength. My deepest longing is that He will get the glory He deserves from my life.
All for the Matchless Name of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
1 Corinthians 1:18-31