Inwardly Renewed

With each day that passes, my body grows more tired.  The youngest is not sleeping, and who can blame her? We have taken her from all things familiar and moved her to a new place.  The smells are different; the people are different; her bed is different; and the food is different.  This precious one went from being with momma all day to being in childcare for 7 hours a day.  We are still in the States but our environment is completely different than the place we call home.  As time goes on, she sleeps less and less at night.  My mind feels like it is at capacity with all the learning we are doing and my body is exhausted from a lack of sleep and from trying to keep up with the exercise goals that we have been given.  We are living communally (which has some amazingly fun perks!!) in a way to prepare us for life overseas.  We live in a home with several other family units – none of whom have children yet.  As the lights go out at night, and the baby screams, I become frantic out of desperation to keep her from disturbing our house-mates.  Paper-thin walls do not hide her cries and honestly, they don’t hide mine as well.  Husband is wonderful about taking over, but then I just feel helpless.  Why is this happening to me is all I can think in those panic moments.

Yesterday, 2 women from our company come to my room and asked to pray with me and over me and in every room in our house.  What a blessing to have fellow sisters lock arms with mine – sisters from back home, as well as sisters here – and plead on my behalf to our Father. While standing in our master bedroom….the room where the baby ends up every night and where I wake up tired every morning…she prayed a verse that is dear to my heart.  The mentor I write about quotes it often and I have watched her live in a manner that reflects her unwavering faith in this scripture being absolute Truth.  Her unwavering faith challenges me…

“For His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness” ~2 Peter 1:3

As my new friend claimed that truth over me in the very room where I have been struggling, my heart softened and peace flooded my anxious heart.  Yes, I have been given everything I need to live fully and to live in a way that makes much of Christ.  I have God’s Word which has become a stream of Living Water for my parched heart.  I have lessons of God’s faithfulness recorded in my journal – lessons that I can go back and read.  He has never failed me, so why would He start now?

Later on in the evening, another sister in Christ from back home sent me a message containing the exact same verse in 2 Peter! I couldn’t believe it! God is so good to confirm and speak to us through the Bible.  As I laid in bed and pondered all that had been happening (both the amazing experience this has been as well as the stress that is inevitable during transitions) God showed me how much progress He is making in the refining of my heart.  He is stripping away every single thing that stands in the way of me being the instrument of righteousness that He sees in me.  He is making me more beautiful and more like Jesus.  He is teaching me how to serve my child who is not reciprocating the favor.  Is this preparing me to pour my life into people who will reject the message I bear with a loving persistence that will eventually win them over?  Refinement is painful but the pain will result in a surrendered heart that bears much fruit for the Kingdom!  A year ago, I would have allowed the anxiety to wear me down to a point that I would take in satan’s lies, nurture them, and believe them to be truth.  Lies such as:  I will only be lonely overseas.  No one prays for me back home.  I don’t know the Bible well enough to be a missionary.  I’m not a good mom.  When I start listening and believing those lies, I can easily fall back into the trap of thinking God must not love me since my circumstances are difficult.  And isn’t this rebellion?  This is my heart growing cold to what God says in the Bible.  This is me wavering in my faith, which results in hopelessness.  But Jesus is HOPE and this hope is an anchor for my soul. I want ears closed to lies and opened to truth…

For the hearts of these people are hardened,and their ears cannot hear, and they have closed their eyes—so their eyes cannot see, and their ears cannot hear, and their hearts cannot understand, and they cannot turn to me and let me heal them.

’“But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, but they didn’t see it. And they longed to hear what you hear, but they didn’t hear it. ~Matthew 13:15-17

I went to bed with an expectant heart.  He is the God who sees and I knew He could see me, struggles and all.

His Word is true and His Word is life.  His Word corrects and His Word encourages. His Word blesses and His Word is my delight.

“When I discovered your words, I devoured them.
They are my joy and my heart’s delight,
for I bear your name,
O Lord God of Heaven’s Armies.”
~Jeremiah 15:16

The baby didn’t sleep last night.  In fact, the battle rages more than ever.   I am having to fight hard to find time to meet with the Lord, read the Bible, and pray.  Lack of sleep fuels anxiety and before I know it, the enemy’s lies allure my weary heart.  But he will not win.  In Jesus, I overcome all things and no circumstance – however hopeless it may seem – will have victory and steal my joy.  I set my alarm clock for 5:30 am this morning after not sleeping all night. I woke up and my eyes were puffy and my legs ached.  As we got the unusually fussy children off to school, Husband and I settled down in our chairs and prepared for class. One of the first passages of scripture we looked at was in Isaiah…

“The Sovereign Lord has given me a well-instructed tongue,
to know the word that sustains the weary.
He wakens me morning by morning,
wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed.
The Sovereign Lord has opened my ears;
I have not been rebellious,
I have not turned away.” ~Isaiah 50:4

As I poured over this scripture on the pages of my Bible, my heart was full and encouraged.  The Lord is training this weary heart to be a well-instructed tongue to the weary who have yet to know Hope.  He has opened my ears to be instructed and I am listening.  Because of Him, I have not been rebellious and I have not turned back to how I used to be.  This is progress! This is victory! As I looked up the cross references for Isaiah 50:4, my heart grew increasingly stronger…

Come to Me, all you who labor
and are heavy-laden and overburdened,
and I will cause you to rest.
[I will [ease and relieve and refresh your souls.]

Take My yoke upon you
and learn of Me, for I am gentle (meek)
and humble (lowly) in heart,
and you will find rest
(relief and ease and refreshment and recreation and blessed quiet)
for your souls.

He is indeed refreshing my soul even though my body continues to tire.  Even as I am sitting her writing this, I have been called by the child care to pick up the baby because she started throwing up everywhere.  The battle continues but Jesus has won my heart.  What a gift it is to be here with my family, meeting new friends who share our passion, and learning amazing skills in evangelism! Please pray for our time to be well spent and for our sweet young one to sleep!  Also, please pray that we would have strength to endure this season and joyfully serve this precious life that has been entrusted to our care!

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

~2 Corinthians 4:16-18