Monthly Archives: June 2012

Oi, tudo bem?

When all else fails, say something in another language…you automatically look cooler.

I know what you’re thinking. “You just blogged yesterday, get over yourself.” 

Maybe you’re not thinking that, but I am. In my defense (against myself, I guess?), when all you have to do is lay around feeling sick and tired but you’re tired of sleeping, blogging is a pretty good option.

And to be slightly more vulnerable, I came across something when reading my Bible that struck me and I really wanted to share it.

Lately, basically since I’ve started actually caring about God and what He thinks – so for about 2 years – I’ve been really struggling with feeling like and believing that God really loves me. That no matter what I do, He is on my side, forever. Of course, that’s really heavy and hard to understand, but I think that’s even more of a reason to try to understand it. See, I walk around with my head down, navel-gazing, feeling like I’ve messed everything up simply by being, that because I couldn’t pull it together God had to work a little harder on me than He really wanted to. So I see Him staring down at me, arms crossed in impatience, waiting for me to stop feeling sorry for myself. Here’s the problem with Christians. We think we have to have it all together. We think we have to be joyful to prove how great we think God is to those around us and we think we have to fake it when we just don’t get God or grace or one of the millions of complexities of this faith. But I learned a little something from Bono this weekend at our retreat. There’s this thing called duality. There’s this thing called being a human. There’s this thing called God cares so much more about how we actually are than how Christianity looks to everyone on earth. Guys, I am a Christian. I believe that God is real, that Jesus is my only way to God, and that one day, Jesus will come back and I will see my God in Heaven. But that does not mean that everyday of my life is pleasant. That does not mean that I always feel completely loved by God. That I don’t doubt Him daily, regularly. That I don’t look to myself for answers more than Him. That I don’t doubt His love for me so much that I live in guilt everyday. You want to know the real Tabitha? That’s the real Tabitha. I’m not completely whole on the inside. I feel separated from God sometimes. More than I’d like. And the only answer I know to give to that depressing thought is that I know who the real God is. Sounds trite, cliche, too easy. But it’s not. The thing I’ve learned absolutely since being in Brazil is that I don’t understand anything. 

But I can’t just stop there! I can’t. How depressing is that? How wrong is that? Who does that leave the answers with? It leaves it up to me to find the answers. I don’t have them. So there’d better be someone else here. Yeah, there has to be. And you guessed it. There is. 

Jesus – the man and Spirit and God, Jesus. He doesn’t ask me to know the answers. He says, “Here, I’ll help you figure it out when you’re ready.” You want to know the Gospel people? See this broken girl with her confused and hurting heart and words laid out in front of you and see the God who gives her the answers. Guys, I don’t even have to look for Him because He is already here with me, waiting for me. How could you deny this God? How could you not want this God? He knows that I’m like this, that I’m trying to do it all by myself and He still wants to fix me completely and make me completely new. He still wants to be my friend and wait patiently for me.

Now back to that Scripture I was talking about. Isaiah 44:21-28 (NLT)

Restoration for Jerusalem

21 “Pay attention, O Jacob,
    for you are my servant, O Israel.
I, the Lord, made you,
    and I will not forget you.
22 I have swept away your sins like a cloud.
    I have scattered your offenses like the morning mist.
Oh, return to me,
    for I have paid the price to set you free.”

23 Sing, O heavens, for the Lord has done this wondrous thing.
    Shout for joy, O depths of the earth!
Break into song,
    O mountains and forests and every tree!
For the Lord has redeemed Jacob
    and is glorified in Israel.

24 This is what the Lord says—
    your Redeemer and Creator:
“I am the Lord, who made all things.
    I alone stretched out the heavens.
Who was with me
    when I made the earth?
25 I expose the false prophets as liars
    and make fools of fortune-tellers.
I cause the wise to give bad advice,
    thus proving them to be fools.
26 But I carry out the predictions of my prophets!
    By them I say to Jerusalem, ‘People will live here again,’
and to the towns of Judah, ‘You will be rebuilt;
    I will restore all your ruins!’
27 When I speak to the rivers and say, ‘Dry up!’
    they will be dry.
28 When I say of Cyrus, ‘He is my shepherd,’
    he will certainly do as I say.
He will command, ‘Rebuild Jerusalem’;
    he will say, ‘Restore the Temple.’”

So let me paint this picture for you as to how I got here, writing to you.

I woke up from a nap feeling no better than when I laid down 4 hours before. I was cranky, hot, and just really, really tired. I woke up, unsure of what to do with myself. I hadn’t read my Bible yet today and that was weighing on my mind – I just felt really guilty and dumb for not reading it. I thought to myself (in an incredibly condemning, not encouraging way), “You’d probably feel better if you just read your Bible.” So I pushed the thought away and got out of bed, hoping getting up would help me think of something to do, all the while feeling like the biggest disappointment and failure ever – I’m just carrying that weight around with me. No one is really home, so I grab a computer and a movie, and am about to climb back into bed when I decide to bring my Bible up with me, too. Still feeling guilty and forced into reading it, not really wanting to, I open it up and immediately feel annoyed and disappointed. I think, “I’ll never measure up to this…God knows what I’m thinking right now and that I’m not feeling this. What’s the point? It’s not going to change the way I really feel, which is sort of empty. I just want Him to make me feel better.” So I sadly start to read and feel this sort of unfamiliar feeling of reassurance. As I read the words, I saw that God was talking to, of course, Jacob, but in that moment, only me. He was directing those words right at me. He wanted and needed me to believe them. He longed for me to trust Him and to trust what He was saying was true and would and will be until I get it and until I believe it and live in it. He’s not giving up on me, He has already forgotten all of the other times I’ve doubted Him. He’s already forgotten the future times I’ve doubted Him. 

So there you go. What scares me is that I have approximately 500 facebook friends and everyone of you could read this. Hello, vulnerability. Typing it and sending it into the cyberworld is one thing. Realizing people are actually reading this and applying it to me is terrifying. Transparency? I don’t know. I hope you enjoyed it. I hope it helped. I hope if you’re not a Christian and you read this, it made Christianity and God seem a little less like a script and a little more like a life.

Word, peace and blessings.

Well, we’re all getting sick.

That seems to be the theme of the past few weeks…slowly, progressively, our team is getting sick. It started with Courtney’s cold, now there are sinus infections which may be bronchitis, stomach bugs, and sore throats.

It’s upsetting, it’s frustrating, and it’s hard. Illness seems managable when it’s just you…but when you start adding it all together, 9 out of 14 seems sort of serious. And what’s worse is that none of us know why we’re getting sick. And what’s even worse (for me) is that I hate being sick. I hate it. And for right now, that’s what I am.

I laid in bed all day yesterday trying to avoid throwing up…and nothing was really making me feel better. I slept the worst of it off…but I still don’t feel 100%. I couldn’t/didn’t eat because, well, I was nauseous. So now I’m weak, exhausted, and still sick.

So I say all of that, not to complain or get pity, but to ask you all to pray – and pray hard. Being sick is bad enough. Being sick in a foreign country when everyone is busy or sick, too, is extremely unfortunate. So please, please be keeping the health of my team in your prayers. We need all the help we can get. Sometimes, being sick seems like the end – it’s kind of hard to see past it, especially when you don’t know what’s wrong. You don’t know how to fix it. The only thing I know to do now is pray, and I have been. But I need your help, too. We all do.

Other than that, life here has been incredibly challenging and entirely refining.And so rewarding. I have to admit, sometimes it’s hard to see it that way, but I’m so glad I’m going through this. I have never faced so much in such a short amount of time. It’s amazing. All of the things I thought I knew and understood about God, about myself, about Jesus and my faith are being shattered and pieced back together. I would go into more detail…but that could take days. And, let’s be real, some of that is sort of personal, dear readers.

Jesus has taught me about Himself and about me and about how we relate. He has taught be about being perfect (or, more aptly, about NOT being perfect) and about how He doesn’t expect or want that from me. It is through the hardest times that I have learned the most about grace and about His immense love for me and about how much He desires for me to enjoy Him. I feel like He is taking away all I “know” about Him – He is removing one of my biggest comforts: knowledge – and asking me to reveal myself to Him. And to trust what He reveals to me about Himself.

I have learned about the things I’ve always wanted to and have truly, truly experienced them. Not the things you can study, but the things only the privileged get revealed to them. I have learned that I am not privileged because I want to be, but because God treasures me. He really and truly does. He doesn’t just say He does so He can get me to do things for Him. He does treasure me because He is worth treasuring. I’m sorry if that doesn’t make sense to you. If it doesn’t, pray that it will. Because that is a lesson worth learning. Know God. Truly ask Him for Himself. He is better than anything I’ve ever wanted.

On another note, I’m excited about coming home. I was telling (shout out alert) Emily (or, as I always call her, “my best friend”) that I feel like God has protected me from homesickness. I haven’t really wanted to go home, but I’m also not wallowing in grief at the thought of coming home. I love being here and don’t want to leave one day earlier than I’m supposed to, but I’m also equally happy with the thought of coming home. I don’t know about you, but I see that as a huge blessing. To feel content and at peace with just one aspect of God’s plan for me is overwhelmingly reassuring.

Something else that God has been teaching me is to learn how to be thankful for what I do have. I was thinking the other day (stressing and worrying, really) about something that wasn’t happening when all of a sudden it occurred to me that so much was happening that I have to be thankful for. Rather than worry about what wasn’t happening and begging God for it to happen, I praised God for what was happening. It was in that moment that I experienced an overwhelming sense of joy at the thought that God is doing anything in my life. He doesn’t have to. But He’s choosing to. And that is so much to be thankful for!

Another thing that I want to be more and more thankful for is my team. I love these people. They are beautiful, amazing lovers of the Lord and they encourage me in more ways than they know. They are caring, smart, humble, etc, etc. They are each so unique, so young, so fresh in their faith, so persevering. I know I don’t always show it to them, but I am so blessed to know them. And Rachel, you little eavesdropper, you’re the coolest. I like sitting with you and listening to you talk…you’re so precious. (Cue the condescending pat).

And finally, here’s some scripture. Focus on verse 12. I don’t have anything to say about it. Just read it.

10 “But you are my witnesses, O Israel!” says the Lord.
    “You are my servant.
You have been chosen to know me, believe in me,
    and understand that I alone am God.
There is no other God—
    there never has been, and there never will be.
11 I, yes I, am the Lord,
    and there is no other Savior.
12 First I predicted your rescue,
    then I saved you and proclaimed it to the world.
No foreign god has ever done this.
    You are witnesses that I am the only God,”
    says the Lord.
13 “From eternity to eternity I am God.
    No one can snatch anyone out of my hand.
    No one can undo what I have done.”

 

Keep us in your prayers. And keep fighting the good fight. It’s called a fight for a reason.