Tuesday, May 6, 2008

God Lessons

I know I haven’t talked much about what God’s been teaching me while I’ve been in Liberia. I think part of the reason is because I’m not quite sure how to put it all into a nice, concise summary. I can say that God has been teaching me a lot! Sometimes I’m surprised at the lessons He’s been teaching me (the ‘topics’ aren’t what I was expecting), and the lessons are much different than what He taught me the last time I was here…well except for one.

I’m convinced that Liberia is the loneliest place on the planet. I came to that conclusion last time I was here, and I’m pretty confident in saying that it is still the case. I know it sounds crazy…I’ve got kids around me a lot of the time, and there are always people around, but it’s a different kind of lonely. I really think this place of loneliness is the way that God enables me to get alone, and be with Him, so that He can teach me these lessons.

The biggest thing God has been teaching me about is worship….and love and delighting in Him (see, no concise summary). My devotion on April 11th was focused on John 12:8 (“You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.”). I’m still thinking about this stuff, and the new things I’m learning seem to be building on to that.

The author had some really good things to say to go along with the verse that I want to share:

“We often raise our work for Jesus—like feeding the poor—above the person of Jesus…Our values are distorted, and our works become empty…Worship is to come first. It is paramount…Let your work flow out of a heat enamored with Him.”

Awesome huh!?

Then a few days ago, my devotion was about delighting yourself in the Lord. (Ps. 37:4 and Zeph. 3:17). I want to be so delighted in the Lord that everything in my life is an act of worship…and from that worship, love will naturally and effortlessly flow from my life.

THEN….as if you need anything else to think about….I’ve been reading a book that my dad sent me a few weeks ago. I’ll be honest and say, I’m not a die-hard John Piper fan or anything (a lot of times he’s over my head), but I’m reading “Let the Nations Be Glad! The Supremacy of God in Missions”…and I have to say, it’s pretty good! Here’s so excerpts from it (all taken from the first chapter…this book has some meat!):

God is glorified precisely when we are satisfied in him—when we delight in his presence, when we like to be around him, when we treasure his fellowship. This is an utterly life-changing discovery. It frees us to pursue our joy in God and God to pursue his glory in us because they are not two different pursuits. God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.”

“Love is helping people toward the greatest beauty and the highest value and the deepest satisfaction and the most lasting joy and the biggest reward and the most wonderful friendship and the most overwhelming worship—love is helping people toward God.”

“The enthusiasm of the kingdom is missing. And that is because there is so little enthusiasm for the King.” (ouch!)

The zeal of the church for the glory of her King will not rise until pastors and mission leaders and seminary teachers make much more of the King. When the glory of God himself saturates our preaching and teaching and conversation and writings, and when he predominates above our talk of methods and strategies and psychological buzzwords and cultural trends, then the people might begin to feel that he is the central reality of their lives and that the spread of his glory is more important than all their possessions and all their plans.”

“God is calling us above all else to be the kind of people whose theme and passion is the supremacy of God in all of life. No one will be able to rise to the magnificence of the missionary cause who does not feel the magnificence of Christ. There will be no big world vision without a big God. There will be no passion to draw others into our worship where there is no passion for worship.”

“The Great Commission is first to ‘delight yourself in the Lord (Ps. 37:4) and then to declare, ‘Let the nations be glad and sing for joy’ (Ps. 67:4). In this way, God will be glorified from beginning to end…”

Phew! So, I guess that’s what God’s been showing me this last month! I hope there’s something in all of that that might make you think….even if it’s just for a second.

5 comments:

Leslie said...

Hey Ash, that is so awesome. WE miss you and bought you some vitamins. Email soon.

Raquel said...

lonely because there's no depth of relationship? lonely because your guard goes up as soon as you exit home? lonely because you haven't prayed or worshiped like you used to? lonely because it's just you and God?

..I'm so sorry..
I can only imagine how much that sucks.

But don't forget, my darlin', that you've got your best friend there. I know it would be nice to get a hug from Him... but, well, ya know, He's God and all... I'll be praying for you.

Brandi said...

I'm so thrilled to follow your journey of following the Lord in Liberia. My two favorite things are Africa and people's journeys. . .so thanks, not just for sharing your stories of Africa, but your real journey as well.

Great thoughts on both issues. . .especially hard hitting was making sure my worship comes first above my acts of service, even for the least of these. Thanks for the meaty thoughts that I will be taking to the Lord for Him to use in MY life as well.

Brandi
www.homehopeandfuture.blogspot.com

Dad said...

Ashley,

I'm glad you are enjoying John Piper, but even more enjoying God
....maybe, just maybe, John's not over your head....maybe as you grow closer to your God...you are beginning to understand who He is....The King of Kings, The Lord of Lords, Worthy to be Praised! (Read Rev. 4) Maybe God has put you in a lonely place to speak to you! Be of good cheer my child....He loves you and is teaching you! That is a wonderful thing for a father to see in his daughter. I am very proud of you!

You are in my prayer every morning as I drive to work and at night as I lay down. I miss you and look forward to seeing you...May God Bless You in your work.

I Love You,
DAD

Juju said...

Hey sis,
Dad didn't pick that book out... me and mom did... thought you had us figured out, eh??

I love you and I am sorry you're lonely, I am kinda lonely here without you!

I am praying for you, Sis. You are going to be a different woman when you come home and I am excited to see it!!

Love Jesus and love those kids, Sis!