God has been teaching me many things over the past few months. If I could summarize the bulk of into one sentence, it would be:
Never in my life have I been so keenly aware of my dependence on God, my need for Him in my life, and my weakness without Him.
I know that might come across sounding negative, but it has been a very positive revelation in my personal walk with God. The other day, I came to the realization that I am actually grateful for getting to this place. Honestly, if we were still living in my snuggly comfort-zone in America, I probably wouldn’t have ever reached the point of knowing my dependency on God in the REALITY that I now know. Now, not everyone needs to move half-way across the world to come to this realization – although for me, God somehow knew it was necessary (some people catch on faster than I do). Some days I crave the comfort of our prior life in America. I wasn’t in any kind of leadership position, didn’t have to worry about spiritual warfare (I don’t think I was very high on the devil’s hit list) and had a very casual surface-level relationship with Jesus. Life was good. However, as we’ve been here in Uganda and have been ‘in the trenches’ of what God is doing in a very spiritually oppressed area – my surface-level relationship with Jesus just doesn’t cut it anymore.
In very trying moments, I’ve come to recognize a very fine line that I’ve walked for years. On one side I’m striving to do things out of my own strength. Trying to control the outcome. On the other side is the realization that if I give up the control and truly surrender, I’m then inviting God into the situation and He then shifts the outcome. Recently in church I heard someone say, “If you feel any heaviness or burden in life, you are carrying something you were never meant to carry (paraphrased).” I’ve found this to be very true. However, in our humanity, we forget that very simple truth so easily. We take things into our own hands and try to control the outcome.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30
Recently, I had a friend from church approach me and ask if we could talk. She then began to tell me what she felt God had been telling her to share with me. She essentially told me that God was saying to stop relying on my own strength and to turn to Him. She then said God had given her an image for me.
She saw a young girl trying get a mango out of a large mango tree. She kept jumping and jumping and trying to get to the fruit, but couldn’t. After trying so hard, she eventually fell to her knees in defeat and surrender. While on her knees, she noticed a rock in front of her. She then took that rock and threw it up into the tree. The rock hit a mango and the mango fell directly in front of where she knelt.
I think that picture is a perfect illustration of the journey God has had me on. I’ve been working so hard to obtain the fruit in what I’m doing out of my own strength. The beauty is that if I just fall to my knees, humble myself and ask God to intervene, then the fruit (breakthrough, strength, etc.) comes. Now, I’m not saying that God is a vending machine and just gives us whatever we think we want or need in the moment. Just take a moment to look at the lives of the disciples to know the true cost of following Jesus. However, I believe that God desires to work with us in partnership and relationship – and through that, you get to experience the best (and most eternal) fruit!
5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. – John 15:5-8