Saturday, January 18, 2014

One year later......

One year ago today I was waking up for the first time in Bahrain; we had arrived at midnight therefore I didn't know what to expect when the sun came up the next day.  I was shocked by the beauty of the ocean right in front of my window!  I couldn't wait to go outside and walk Bella on the beach and I remember thinking, "How on earth did I end up here???"  Today I woke up to a beautiful, cloudy, rainy day and after a whole year of being here, I am still in awe every time I come down the stairs and see the beauty of the water in front of me.  I still love going outside with Bella to feel the morning breeze and I still, honestly and wholeheartedly think, "How is it that we're so blessed to be here???"

I would like to think that I've always been this gracious in my journey but the truth is that I've had my moments.  As much of a blessing as this life is, it has been clouded only by my own inability to fully accept this gift and because of my own expectations.  I realize now that this is why I've neglected to blog for over six months, even though so many kind friends kept asking me to do so.  If I can be brutally honest, it's because when I left, I left with what felt like great expectations from everyone, including myself!  Because of my many years in ministry and service to God, and because of the blessings I had received through them, I truly felt that God would NOT remove me from that life if He didn't plan on using me for the same here.  In other words, there must be something He needed me to do here!  As I was leaving, I kept hearing, "God is going to use you there; God really must need you to do His work there; maybe you'll start the first CSS class in a Muslim country!"  They were are all very well-intended comments but I remember starting to feel the pressure; pressure because in the back of my mind (and in my heart) I was beginning to think, "But what if God is pulling me out of here and placing me all the way over there because He feels the need to work on ME! What if I'm not being sent to do great things for Him over there?!"    I guess this is where I need to say that I was right; and unfortunately that is why, after countless of times of trying to sit down and write, I couldn't do it, if only because I was afraid to disappoint.  I myself felt disappointed; I felt lost; I was not in my element; I wasn't really doing anything that I considered "great" or of value and I was not used to NOT DOING; I felt like I had nothing "substantial" to say.

Today, I'm not sure it's substantial, but God has revealed so much to me in these last few weeks; I have been gently corrected in my understanding and my hope is that in sharing some of it with you, we can all be reminded to thank God for the "here and now"; to look at the present, not what was or what we hope will be, but simply look at each day as an abundant gift from God and peacefully accept and trust in God's plan for our lives.   *Highlighted because I will come back to this at the end.

So, "what do you do?"  A question you usually ask when you meet someone; a question I have come to hate because I never really know what to say; especially now!  Society places so much importance in what we do instead of who we are, and it always feels like the answer is supposed to impress; as if to say that what I do will define my importance in this world.  That's why I think when I got here, after a few months of loving my solitude; loving my time spent in deep prayer and contemplation, I began to feel that I really needed to go and DO something!  After all, I'm used to doing; I live to serve God and that means I need to be doing something to that end.  I kept looking and looking, but thankfully my heart knew that I needed to wait on the Lord until He revealed it.  Crickets..... other words, nothing was being revealed.  I started to think that it was because I would be going home and traveling for most of the summer so maybe God didn't want me to start something only to interrupt it.  He's so wise like that!!  So He was probably waiting until I got back to put me to work.  And true to form, I came back with the resolve to get to work and I thought that the yearning in my heart for the Word of God and Scripture was His prompting me to go back to what I know and love; what I know how to DO - and that was to lead a bible study!!  Yes!  I could finally report back that I had indeed started the first CSS bible study in Bahrain!  Oh, how easily we can talk ourselves into believing that our desires are His desires for us.

All I will say is that instead of bringing me the joy I anticipated, I was met with indifference and apathy.  At first I was sad; then frustrated and even a little angry.  Why didn't these people want this great gift I wanted to share with them???  The class that we were able to start was a very small group and the dynamics would not lend themselves to the style or method of teaching I had used before; the one I felt I was "good" at.  This was a whole new different ball game and I quickly began to think that perhaps I had made a mistake.  I could see that maybe my need to DO something had led me back to what was safe; in the absence of hearing clear direction from God, I just went back to what I knew how to do.  But I also know that when we're not in God's will, even when we're doing something "good", the joy and the peace we long for will elude us and I started to feel in my heart that this was the problem.  How could I have been so wrong??

I finally concluded that what I believed in my heart from the beginning was truly God's voice speaking to me. I was not necessarily brought here to DO, but to BE.  To be still in the presence of God.  I know that I am not beyond needing work; I, like everyone else, am a work in progress and God is not ever finished with us until the day He takes us home and can then call us "Saints".  I was reminded of Abraham and Moses and so many of the prophets who had been pulled away from their homes; their families, their comfort zones, into the desert for many, many years while God worked in them, strengthened them, taught them, in order to prepare them for the next phase of their lives.  I have been incredibly blessed and privileged to serve God in so many ways and for so many years, but I truly feel that at this point in my life, God is longing to have me all to Himself to continue a good work in me.  And how blessed am I that He would want to spend quality, intimate time with me??  How blessed are WE to know that He desires the same from each and every one of us??  

God is so loving that many times He lets us have what we think we have to have - what we think we need, and when it doesn't turn out quite right, He can still work with our mistakes for His good; I believe that is what He is doing with me and the bible study class.  It is small and it's different, but I see now that this allows for some very intimate, personal discussions and growing in faith.  It allows for a more personal encounter with these people who truly have a desire to grow closer to God.  I am re-energized simply by being in the Word again and by being able to share what  God has revealed to me about Himself; and still learning; learning to rely completely on His power to teach and engage in a whole new way.  Last night, I came home feeling so blessed because I could clearly see the love and grace that is being poured out on our little class.

When I left home, I brought a plaque that was given to me as a gift with one of my favorite scripture verses on it; "Be still and know that I am God".  Favorite because it's the one I've always known I need to remember the most!!  Today I am very happy to tell you that that is exactly what I do here in Bahrain.  I started the New Year with a resolve to truly embrace just being still; I am trying very hard not to feel guilty for spending an entire morning, or even an entire day just reading, praying, thinking, journaling about God and all that He is revealing to me.  And I am grateful and humbled, that He loves me enough to work on the places I need working on; to know that even if I need 40 years to correct and strengthen me, it is worth it because I will be that much better equipped to love and serve Him, which is truly my greatest desire!

God desires intimate time with each one of us - of that I am absolutely sure!  So after spending my morning looking out my window, watching the rain fall softly on the water and feeling the tears of gratitude run down my face, I knew I was finally ready to share with you once again.  As I sat down at my computer, I saw a Facebook post from a very special friend and it said this: Offer a spontaneous prayer for the insight to view the "here and now" as an abundant gift from God and to peacefully accept the path in life that you have created thus far.    We have the free-will to choose the path in life we want to take; my prayer is that we will all choose to walk in His path for our lives and to embrace our "here and now" as our own personal gift from God so that we can enjoy the peace that only He can give.

As always, I send you many blessings from Bahrain!!

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