I was wondering how long it would take.
I had been living in Haiti for nearly two whole weeks and (aside from sweating profusely and learning to live with being dirty all the time) I was feeling great!
The last time I was in Haiti, I stayed for only a week, and my stomach was so jacked up that I lost 12 pounds as a result of those 7 days!
This time, it took 13 whole days… 13 days for the Haitian tummy rumble to begin. And when it hit, I was so sick – throwing up all night Friday night – that I wanted to die. Thank God I didn’t, however, and by Saturday night I was feeling halfway normal again.
Fast-forward past a two-and-a-half hour church service and a funeral on Sunday (which could each be blog posts in and of themselves), and now we arrive at Monday. As this new workweek began today, I was able to make the Haitian tummy rumble a distant memory and have a productive day at my job here.
That sounds weird.
My job here, while I would still call it work (and very hard work), feels less like a “job” than any other job I’ve ever had.
It feels more like I am simply living out my God-given purpose.
Not to say that in the States, I wasn’t living out my purpose. I do believe that in each stage of my life (since salvation), I have lived out my purpose for that season of my life. During many difficult days in healthcare, I had to remind myself that I was serving as if serving the Lord.
The Bible clearly states,
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” – Colossians 3:23
But there is something to be said for having all comforts stripped away and being plopped in the middle of discomfort and unfamiliarity… something to be said for chasing after the life that God called you to, no matter what it takes… something to be said to be stripped away from those things and have to fully rely on him to truly and vulnerably feel like you are living out your purpose in Him.
“Typical” daily life should feel more like this I think.
What does it take to achieve this?
#1: It takes a keen ear for the Lord’s voice and direction.
(We know how to hear this, right? Get to KNOW HIM through prayer, His word, and fellowship with the body of Christ), and
#2: A heart willing to step outside one’s comforts.
It’s often in the midst of struggle that we experience God’s presence because our capacity to survive on our own has great limitations.
That reminds me of a cliché I hate.
(If you know me well, you are aware of the fact that I DESPISE clichés. I think they are simple-minded and people use them without taking the time to truly seek meaning and truth.)
I hear all the time that “God won’t give you more than you can handle.”
This is SO FALSE!!
There is SO MUCH in life that we cannot handle on our own.
If I had not had a relationship with Christ at several points in my life, I would not be alive because I honestly would have taken my own life.
One example that I feel I can divulge openly is the fact that I did not handle being abandoned by my husband by myself.
The only way I made it was by leaning on Him and trusting that He had a plan for my future.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28
Many people get this idea of God not giving them more than they can handle in their heads and (worse) think that it is Biblical because they misinterpret the scriptures that state, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” – 1 Corinthians 10:13
On another important note, did this say that God, Himself, tempts us?
James 1:13 states, “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God,’ for God cannot be tempted with evil, and HE HIMSELF TEMPTS NO ONE.”
And if that is not enough to convince you that this cliché is false, maybe this will:
“For we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.” – 2 Corinthians 1:8,9
Paul says that he was burdened beyond his ability. (Ever been there? I have.)
He was so low, he felt as it he had received a death sentence. (Been there, too.)
However, he states, it was NOT to make him rely on himself, but on GOD!
Therefore, my advice is to take a risk… do something for Jesus that you normally wouldn’t do. Because if you go about your “normal” daily life, then you will see your everyday “normal” results.
When you step outside your comfort zone in obedience to the Lord, I guarantee you will learn more about yourself and feel the overwhelming joy of living out your purpose in Him.
It can be as simple as going to meet a new neighbor and taking the time to just sit, talk, and share life.
It can be as complex and extraordinary as selling all your possessions and moving to the bush in Africa.
It can be both!
Go meet your neighbor in the bush.
(Sorry, just can’t help myself.)
As I live out my life in the small village of Neply, Haiti and realize my purpose here, I find joy in such small things. Small victories.
Maybe it’s because so many distractions of my former life are stripped away. Maybe it’s because, freed from these distractions, I can see the moments of joy more clearly. Maybe it’s because I love the people that I serve out of the love of Christ. And every small victory is a reflection of HIS victory over sin, over illness, over the world, over even death.
One small thing today that brought great joy to me was the sweet, simple smile of an angel.
Since meeting him two weeks ago, I had not seen him smile. The more typical facial expression could easily be described as a grimace. You can see the struggle of his life in his face. The hunger. The discomfort.
But today… while relaxing in my arms with a belly full of food… Frensky smiled.
And with that smile, I am reminded that my purpose in Christ, no matter what job I hold or what I find to with my hands… is to LIVE OUT His victory.
No matter what I see, no matter the heartaches or the struggles… the victory is won.
We just claim it as our own.
Live out your purpose. And live it victoriously.