I am thankful for time to breath. The past month has been hectic, but I am thankful for the next 2 weeks I have off from class and Neustart (the prostitution ministry I am serving here in Berlin) to get caught up and most of all to seek God’s face. Rest also comes from having a place to call HOME! here in Berlin. Praise God!
The past few weeks have been spiritually dry for me. I was not finding rest in God’s presence. I was neglecting quiet time with Him each day, filling that time with other “priorities”. And in doing so, my heart was wandering further from His. I was not living out of the Spirit, which is dangerous. To be faithful and true witnesses of Christ, we must be saturated and moved by the Spirit. No one leaves God’s presence un-transformed. And I desperately want God’s glory and transformation to be my witness to others.
During the dryness, there have been times of refreshment and teaching from God. One big lesson God brought to my attention was my need for humility in clear communication. Particularly around Thanksgiving, I was feeling very alone and discouraged. Not only is discouragement bad, but I realized that I did not have a strong connection with believers here, even my own teammates. I was withdrawing myself from opportunities to deepen friendships and seek out reliable, needed friendships (see opposite effect: Prov. 18:24). I was discouraged, lacking in confidence, and lacking in boldness because my spirit was not right but also because I did have other irons around me to sharpen me and encourage me (Prov. 27:17). Something I need. We need each other, brothers and sisters.
I was feeling spiritually distraught and brought low. I was frustrated and sad. However, during this time God was teaching me a lesson. All of my life I would store up those negative feelings. Or I would try to journal them out. Or pray them out. Sometimes I would feel a little bit better, but my feelings would never be healed, and sadness and bitterness would store and fester in my heart.
So a few weeks ago when I was feeling these emotions of sadness and discouragement again, God pulled me out of the mire. He told me I need to be open about my needs and share them with others. I need to not keep quiet about what I am feeling but bring it out in the open. See, that’s how Satan works—Satan wants to divide, wants to isolate, wants to keep things quiet. These are often symptoms that he is on the attack. Resist the attack.
So, by God’s grace, I opened up to Evette (my roommate and a ReachGlobal teammate). I shared with her what I was struggling with. I shared with her how I felt alone and realized I was being intentional with non-believers in Berlin but was not being intentional with developing relationships with believers. And I then shared how this then meant I had no one to turn to at this point when I was discouraged in ministry. God has graced me with Evette because she is a great listener and great encourager. She listened, which is really all I needed—someone to help carry my burden with (Gal. 6:2). I shared, she listened, and then we talked a bit and prayed together. It was as if fresh air was breathed into my stagnant soul. It was a great encouragement and relief to talk with her and know I am not alone and that she cares. Through talking with her, God was able to carry me forward.
Having open, honest, bold, loving communication with people has been very freeing for me, though humbling if what I need to communicate is my weakness. God is growing me in this area, and it’s been refreshing to me in the few opportunities I’ve had since to practice open communication.
Good Words from the Lord
During the past few days, God has been teaching me a lot through His Word. In the past few days, I’ve not walked away from His Word without something great to chew on.
Faithful in Love and Deed
Acts 28 has been a source of great encouragement for me. In the text, Paul and Luke (the writer) are traveling with Roman centurions to Paul’s trial in front of Caesar in Rome. While traveling, Paul is shipwrecked. All the passengers land safely on an island, and there Paul healed a man along with ALL the sick people on the island (Acts 28:8-9). The islanders held Paul with high regard and provided him and the ship crew with all their needs before they set sail for Rome.
What I found encouraging about the text: Where are the thousands of salvations? Where are the “professions of faith” as a result of the healings? Where is the church plant on the island? It’s not there. Is this a ministry failure on Paul’s part? NO. It’s beautiful….Paul is naturally a light, a servant, and a witness, despite the tragedy of the shipwreck, the trial that awaits Paul, the threat of Paul’s life from the other centurions on board (Acts 27: 42). Paul is faithful in his love and service to God. Paul faithfully does what he is called to do, he heals the people, and leaves the rest up to God, who is faithful to save. Should this not be my motivation? I easily get discouraged in thinking I am not doing enough…but if we are faithful in doing our part ALWAYS even if it means we never see fruit, God is faithful bring into completion the work He has started. What a relief. And shame on us when we toss away work God has set before us because it seems “fruitless”.
Answered Prayers for Boldness, Clarity, and Opportunity
I also found the connection of the following texts to be very encouraging: Paul, under house-arrest for 2 years in Rome, welcoming and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ from his “prison”, essentially (Acts 328:30-31). And seeing that his ability to do this for 2 years with “boldness” and “without hindrance” was an answer to prayer, as he asked the church at Ephesus to “Pray that I may declare it [the gospel] fearlessly, as I should” (Eph. 6:20), as well as the church at Colossae, “And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should” (Col. 4:3-4). So encouraging….to hear Paul’s heart for the lost and the spread of the salvation Jesus brings…Paul asks for prayer to proclaim this message boldly and clearly and for doors to open to do that, rather than asking for prayers for his escape from house-arrest. And we see in Acts that the Lord faithfully answered those prayers of the church, blessing Paul with hungry souls that came to him to hear and receive during his 2 years in Rome, before his execution.
Wisdom in Knowledge + Patience
Proverbs 19:2 is the last message I want to share. It reads, “Desire without knowledge is not good—how much more will hasty feet miss the way!” I needed to read this. I have a lot of what I perceive to be God-given desires. But without knowledge, pursuit of those desires can be foolish and more disastrous than glorifying. In the city of Berlin, my heart breaks for many things. Seeing drunkenness. Seeing women prostituting themselves. Seeing men lust after other men and women lust after other women. Seeing beggars. Seeing people who are not in their right mind by-passed and ignored. My heart breaks…and I often want to take action. But my actions need to result from the Holy Spirit’s prompting or result from previous experience or knowledge. A hasty action based off of a desire can lead to me missing the mark, as the proverb says, which can ultimately be disastrous. A good word from the Lord.
Next Post: Neustart
I need God’s help in putting these good words into practice. And I hope that these words are of encouragement to you, as well.
Now that I have some down time, I hope to post more regularly. My goal for my next post is to reflect on my work with Neustart the past 3 weeks. I look forward to sharing with you all some stories, experiences, and reflections.
Much love and blessings!!!