Monday, January 8, 2018

First JV Office Day

It was my first day in the JV offices today, and I couldn't believe when I sat down at the (well, I suppose I should say "my") desk how the Lord has led up until now. 

Who would have guessed that the same office building I used to visit in high-school when I needed to pick something up from my dad on my lunch break, would be the place that I would drive to work to on a dreary rainy Monday? 

Who would have guessed that years studying at Moody in downtown Chicago would lead right back to this town - the town with no traffic lights, with fog and smog and the prettiest valleys and mountains. Sometimes we don't see the sun for days. Sometimes I recognize a former elementary schoolmate in the grocery store. We both wonder if we should say hi. This is the town in the valley where the threads of my childhood criss-cross the side streets and rivers.  

Not only was it surreal to be at the offices today, but I got to think about the JV Kids all day today. Tomorrow I'll think about them too. And the next day. Serving those kids and their families, whom I love, is my job. Wow.  

I still wake up feeling small and insufficient for all that is ahead. As familiar as this place is to me, this role is new. Being a missionary is new.

Yet, as my alarm clock goes off each morning, and I recite sleepily (sometimes in thought, sometimes aloud): "I am not my own, but belong to God. I have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me," I find myself still feeling small, yet comforted and renewed by the greatness of our God. This God chooses us. He calls us his own, and he calls us by name. We are his ambassadors. These homes we dwell in are like embassies for his Heavenly Kingdom. And Christ is King. 

Thus, here we all are. We are showing up. And we are eagerly and hopefully (and sometimes fearfully too, right?) awaiting God to show up. We wait for his voice. We wait for him to sift through the muddled thoughts in our heads. We wait for him to convict our hearts and show us truth. We wait for him to use us for his name's sake. 

You know what? He loves to show his glory. 

So we wait with confidence. Oh yeah. That's what faith is - assurance of things hoped for, conviction of things not seen (Heb. 11:1). How I'm praying that God strengthens mine (goodness, I can't do that alone!), and yours on this very day. Though that may come through trial or silence or suffering or waiting, he will show his glory and he will draw us near in Christ. 

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Fireworks and Slips of Paper

The holiday season has officially "ended" here in the Czech Republic with the celebration of Three Kings Day yesterday. Everyone is stepping into the new year of 2018 "plným proudem," as we say in Czech (i.e. "in full stream")! 

We are precisely one week into this year, and I am still wide eyed at what this year will shape up to be.  It will be my first year living in Czech again, and my first year stepping into this role with the JV Kids. It's going to be a big year. 

Our church has somewhat of a tradition that every year you pick a verse "out of a hat" and ask the Lord how he'd like to teach you through that passage in the next year. Our pastor made it very clear that this was not something prophetic, and that the Lord may or may not choose to use this particular verse to speak into the coming year. Yet, our pastor also called us to pray and ask God to bring a verse to our attention, in order that our eyes may be fixed on Jesus. 

The basket went around and I sifted through the slips of paper and randomly chose one that had a verse from Colossians printed on it. It was strangely applicable to my heart. (I see you, Lord!)

In context, it reads:

"And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. ...

For you were buried with Christ when you were baptized. And with him you were raised to new life because you trusted the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead.  

You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins." - Colossians 2:6-7, 12-13

(Those are the Ellenwoods and my parents - we've been celebrating New Years together for years now here in Czech!)

This whole concept of the "old" and "new" life has been on my mind often in these past months. I have talked about it with friends and church family. We have talked about what it means to claim our baptism, to repent and believe again, yet with the security that we have already died to sin and been made alive in Christ. We have already been saved when we repented and put our faith in Jesus, but now we learn to walk. To let our roots grow deep. 

And this is my prayer for this coming year then: that you and I would let our lives be built upon Christ, and that we would live every day in the reality that we have already been raised to new life by the power of our mighty God.