Photos courtesy of Ryan Prouty

Friday, September 4, 2009

A Perfect God

I am amazed at God's love and tender care of me lately. I have been reading through the Bible in a year by reading a section of the Old Testament, New Testament, a Psalm, and a Proverb daily. I have a nifty Bible that organizes the readings with date headers, so I just have to go to the date and read what is there. I am amazed each time the day's reading applies to my life in that moment. I shouldn't be amazed any more. I should trust that God has orchestrated each and every second of my life and is using it for His glory. But...I have trouble continuing to trust. I take my eyes off my all powerful Savior and place them on my problems and end up afraid, mad, bitter, and hopeless.

As our summer of change events unfolded, I was comforted multiple times by a psalm or proverb, or passage from Romans as I could identify with Paul's (the apostle that is) persecution that mirrored my Paul's persecution that he endured this past year. I am so grateful for the tender hug from God that I received as I curled up at the end of the day with my Bible to try to connect with God and get some answers about what we were going through.

Just this week, I finished up Job. How appropriate. After all the feeling sorry for myself via Hee Haw lyrics, it was a struggle to maintain a rosy outlook on our time in Florida. We have asked ourselves, (and God), "Was this what we came to Florida for? Why did we have to come all the way here and give up everything we had for THIS??" WOW, Job puts it all in perspective doesn't he?? I have suffered SO LITTLE compared to him and yet I despair just as strongly and pour out my complaints to God in bitterness and even anger. I am so thankful for His grace.

Two days ago, I started Ecclesiastes. I have read this book several times before and my main take home point that I gleaned from The Wise Solomon was this: "Everything is meaningless." So, as I opened my reading for that day and saw I was to begin this book, I was like, "What in the world?? This is the last book I need to be reading now!!" But, I was amazed at the encouragement I found here . Indulge me in sharing it with you for my own benefit! Ecc 3:11 "Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God's work from beginning to end." And Ecc 4:9,12 "Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken."

As I read this words, I thought of Paul and I, as we stood together in agreement to fight the wrong that was happening at Agape. How Harvey Johnson stood at Paul's back when he was attacked and how Paul returned the favor. How you (our supporters) became the third in our triple braided cord and how we cannot be easily broken. Praise the Lord! Some of you have heard Paul's reasons for leaving Agape, but most of you have not. Paul was explaining a bit in a recent e-mail and I have pasted it here in his words:

"When I entered law enforcement in 1993 I needed a job, that's it. From there I excelled, because my father taught me how to work, but then Empty came knocking on my heart and I jumped when we were called to missions. Little did I know that God had me go to Agape to fight. To fight injustice to the staff, to supporters and a few missionaries. I had not planned on it being short term, but God made it clear that in order for change to occur I would need to leave. I had made the leadership aware of the problems at hand, but they did not listen until I walked out the door.

As of today, the Board of Directors [at Agape] has asked the Executive Director to take a sabbatical for 8 months. They are listening to the staff for the first time in years, and change is occurring. I was brought to Agape, by God, for this purpose: To begin the change and healing process. Now that he has used me for this, I must await what he has for me next, and serve by counseling those who need it."

We don't know what God has planned for Paul next. We cannot see the whole scope of God's work from beginning to end. Ecc 6:18-20 "Even so, I have noticed one thing, at least, that is good. It is good for people to eat, drink, and enjoy their work under the sun during the short life God has given them, and to accept their lot in life. And it is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life--this is indeed a gift from God. God keeps such people so busy enjoying life that they take no time to brood over the past." Wise advice, Solomon.

How are we doing heeding it? Some days are better than others. Paul is definitely doing it better than I am. I am still angry at times; bitterness still seeps in and overwhelms me. In my pride (a recurring problem of mine), I look at the sacrifices we made to come here and I feel so unappreciated, taken for granted and used. I would love to tell you that we are at perfect peace, we are handling this transition with grace and mercy...but that wouldn't be very transparent. And I have pledged to do away with the Travis that presents a "put together" image out there for the world to see, too afraid to admit that I have faults, worried about the rejection that would surely accompany anyone who got to know the real me. No, I need you to know the real me and pray for the real me who is hurting, angry and bitter at times. It has been so hard to watch what this has done to my husband. How he has been wounded so deeply and his heart has been damaged by sinful expectations and behavior. I would rather it be me. It would be easier to take. So, my prayer is that I would lift up my imperfect, broken and scarred heart to a perfect God. That I would be amazed and be changed. Natalie Grant's song has really spoken to me lately:

Never let 'em see you when you're breaking
Never let 'em see you when you fall
That's how we live and that's how we try
Tell the world you've got it all together
Never let them see what's underneath
Cover it up with a crooked smile
But it only lasts for a little while

There's no such thing as perfect people
There's no such thing as a perfect life
So come as you are, broken and scarred
Lift up your heart and be amazed
And be changed by a perfect God

Suddenly it's like a weight is lifted
When you hear the words that you are loved
He knows where you are and where you've been
And you never have to go there again

Who lived and died to give new life
To heal our imperfections
So look up and see love. Let grace be enough

By a perfect God

Be changed by a perfect God
Be changed


kruse02 said...

Praying for the "real" you...and your family, Travis. What a challenging time you are all facing. Don't forget...if God brings you to it; God will get you through it! Amy Kruse

kruse02 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
karen simon said...

We stand with you and are part of your three cords.
much love.

Anonymous said...

You are in our prayers. Thanks for sharing and pouring out your heart to us and God. He is able to sustain you, comfort you, guide you and direct your paths. Your labor is NOT in vain! We are praying for direction for you and your family. Love, Barb

Anonymous said...

Oh, how we want to be there to wrap our arms around the two of you. These past several months have obviously been a time of great pain and heartbroken-ness. You are prayed for daily, and God is hearing our prayers and yours. When life hurts, God does heal, although, the process is painful as he hones us to be what he has called us to be. Letting go of the power we think we have and using God's power is such a hard lesson. God blesses us mightily when we turn all over to Him, which is difficult in this selfish and prideful world. Both of you are beautiful, faithful believers, and God is directing your path, eventhough it has become uncertain.
Christianity is a decision followed by a process, which sometimes brings about fear, worry, and doubt. "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength." Phil. 4:13. "Blessed be the tie that binds", and you are tied to many faithful friends and pray-ers. We love you and hold you up daily.
Love to all,

sara said...

You know, my prayer heading into this next season of my life is to be AMAZED BY GOD. It is so easy to forget how awesome He really is. no matter what our circumstances are. Oh, to be amazed like the disciples sitting at His feet were. Thank you for sharing your heart & your amazement of Him. it encourages me to open up my heart to Him, unlock the doors. And be Amazed.