Molding a lump of clay

Molding a lump of clay
I am a work in progress, molded by my Maker, refined by His fire, shaped with His love. Walk the journey with me.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Painfully pruned, expecting much fruit


I just spent 3 weeks in Nigeria for a YWAM Leadership Training Course led by the founders, Loren and Darlene Cunningham.

It was a wild ride of extremes for me...the teaching was excellent, but the living situation was hugely challenging for me. I was housed in a hot, smelly, crowded, noisy dorm with 19 other women, zero privacy and zero consideration of whether or not someone else wanted to rest or sleep.

"Be thankful you have a bed," someone said. Yes, good point, but not necessarily helpful when I'm tired and cranky and have no quiet place to recharge.

I struggled with the food. Then I'm hearing stories of times when whole YWAM bases lived on soya beans for 40 days. Our diet wasn't quite that extreme, even if I did lose 5 pounds in 3 weeks.

I struggled with the climate. Hot and humid, my clothes were always sticking to me to the point where I developed a prickly heat rash all over my back. Then I'm hearing stories of running schools in unfinished buildings in the middle of winter and the students having to write while wearing gloves. At least I could shower and cool off a bit.

Those were just the struggles with the basic creature comforts.

Then there were the other challenges that made me feel undermined, unvalued and second-rate. I don't believe this was intentional or calculated...it probably went completely unnoticed...except by me.

One of the teachers commented in class that, "It's easy to say we want to be servant-hearted and that we're willing to serve others without recognition, but what about when others start to treat us like servants? How do we respond then?"

I had to seriously consider this question in light of my own situation, and came face to face with several other questions, "Who are you serving, after all? If you are doing this for Me, then what happens when you're not recognized, not appreciated, not valued? What happens if nobody cares whether or not you are comfortable or well fed? How will you respond if you are just a nobody in the eyes of those around you?"

Yes, I had learned all about Relinquishing My Rights on my DTS...I had said I would lay it all down and pick up my cross, nails and all, to follow Jesus. But I hadn't experienced what I felt was such a massive violation of "my rights" all at the same time like I did on this LTC, and I'm sorry to say I wasn't very eager to lay them down.

But I didn't have any choice...there were no options for me to change my situation: they wouldn't let me change rooms, I couldn't change the menu, and they wouldn't even let me put the fan on in our dorm room. I couldn't wave my CV around or expect total strangers to respect me...what made me any different from anyone else? Why should they grant me any favors?

All I could do was pray for grace, and He gave me that.

Now I'm home and trying to process it all. Although my instinct is to blot out the hardships from memory, I know God had lots of good lessons for me in those hardships. This morning I was reading John 15:1-17 and thinking, "If I ever thought I'd been pruned before, it was nothing compared to the LTC." God must have been doing some serious cutting back to the quick, because it felt like He stripped me to the bone to get rid of the superfluous and show me what I was made of. Looked like a lot of spineless jelly to me, but somewhere in the gloop I saw a tenacious hold on Christ that would not let go no matter the circumstances. Maybe that's the sticking power the leaders were talking about when they said, "Success is not quitting, no matter how hard it is."

If this truly was God pruning me, then I look forward to the 'much fruit' I will bear as a result. Like Beth Moore said, "No matter how scary it may seem, you can trust God with a pair of shears."

I'll write more about the amazing teachings, new friends, and faithful works of God in Nigeria when I've digested the hard stuff a bit more.

Was it all worth it? Definitely.

1 comment:

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