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.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

When it all just seems too much...

I wasn't sure whether to write this post or not until I received an email from a friend sharing her concerns about coming back to Arua for another short-term stay. It was her statement, "I feel like God wants us to come back to Arua, but I'm not sure if I want to go" that made me think...Yeah, I need to write this.

You see, it's not just my friend who is torn between wanting to come back, and not wanting to because she knows the challenges she and her family will face... after 13 years here, I also still face that same battle.

The most recent time was just last weekend. I'd spent 2 glorious weeks in Chiang Mai, Thailand, enjoying airconditioned hotel rooms, hot showers, pothole free roads, Starbucks coffees and hi-speed internet. I came home anxious to see my family, but this time the transition back was so much more difficult.

On the bus ride up to Arua (7 hours in the baking afternoon heat), all I could see was the rubbish that littered the road, the huge plumes of diesel smoke from the battered lorry ahead of us, the rusted tin roofs, the dirt-stained buildings, the dilapidation, the poverty...

I've seen it all before. I live in the midst of it. But this time it affected me deeply...not with a new burden to bring change, but with a new desire to run away.

The next few days I tried to get back into the swing of things, but unbeknownst to me, I was in the first stages of malaria. I thought the body aches and lack of energy were just due to the long journey, and I tried to keep going, but by Tuesday I was shaking with fever and later that day discovered I had malaria.

That day and the next, all I could think about was how fed up I am with Africa. I ranted and raved about the corruption, the disease, the filth, the underdevelopment. I told John, "These are no rose-colored glasses...I'm wearing mud-colored bifocals and the view from this side is hopeless."

I just wanted to get out. I'd had enough. Why am I here? I kept asking God. Haven't I 'roughed it' enough?

I could see no good thing in my ministry here. What had I really done to make any difference? The kids on the other side of the fence are still walking around naked with snotty noses and nothing I'm ever gonna do will change that.

I was really in the pit of despair.

Then God spoke to me once again through Beth Moore (I just love that woman!). She was teaching on Daniel 6 - in the lion's den, and she focused on v. 10 where Daniel learned about the decree prohibiting prayer to any god apart from the king. His response was to go back to his upper room, get down on his knees, and pray, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.

Beth pointed out that Daniel had developed a holy habit of prayer that became his default response to any emergency.

She said we all have default responses to emergencies: we can become critical...blaming everything and everyone; we can react in anger...raging against everything and everyone. She mentioned several others but my mind had latched onto those two and I thought, "That's just what I have done. For some reason coming home this time has triggered a default pattern in me to criticize and blame everything around me for how miserable I feel."

Beth went on to point out that Daniel didn't just pray, "Lord help me help me help me!" but he gave thanks to his God. Beth took us to Phil 4:6-7 and reminded us that we aren't supposed to be anxious, but to pray about everything, and do it with thanksgiving! And doing that will guard our hearts and minds!!

Boy did my heart and mind need some guarding. I had to pause the sermon right then and get down on my knees and say sorry to my Daddy for my attitude, my criticism, my lack of thanksgiving. Something in me broke and I just cried in my Father's arms, and soon I could see all the wonderful things He has blessed me with. And I began to name them, and thank Him for them, and soon that peace He promised came and blessed my soul.

I know it's not all about me, but it's easy to make it seem that way. However, I want to reset my default settings so that, instead of ranting and raving and generally hating my circumstances, I automatically drop to my knees and begin praising my God, thanking Him for His wonderful works and glorifying His name.

Because you know what? No matter my circumstances...He is worthy to be praised.


Gemma said...

It's so encouraging to read about your growth in God - it spurs me on to maturity, not accepting where I am now but striving to be somewhere better!

Arun said...

thank you so much for the post... it is encouraging

CC said...

Thank you Vikki for your complete honesty and allowing yourself to be vulnerable. Great lesson and reminder here for sure. Be blessed my friend. CC

Heathcote Safari said...

Vikki, this was very timely ... so I guess there's encouragement in being 'in the flow' even when feeling dire ;-) I WISH we could share more of this stuff together, journey through together ... and maybe we can, a little, through writing. Thanks for being willing to be vulnerable and may God meet you where you're at and provide what you need to keep looking up at Him and putting one foot in front of the other! Love. xxx

fragmentz said...

oh Vikki,
your blog never fails to move and teach me.
thank you for being so open and honest.
i pray for you, and john and the children regularly and will continue to do so.
i hope the malaria is getting better
lots of love from england

Candyce Diane Mogga Wani Koriak Napoleon said...

Thanks Vikki. I really needed to read this and be reminded that God is worthy, and we can overcome.
thank you thank you thank you.