Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Before the Rain: Noah and Jonah

What do people tell you when life isn’t working out how you want it to? Wait on God’s perfect timing? You are being prepared for something bigger? These last couple weeks I’ve felt torn between these two responses; between the examples of Noah and Jonah. Our church and ministry is growing slower than we would like. My mom recently reminded me of the story of Noah. If God had sent the animals to Noah while he was still building the ark… can you imagine? A zoo of creation with nowhere to put it and an ark still to finish. God’s timing is perfect. Do not fear. Obey. Do the work you’ve been given and trust.

I’ve been reading Old Testament books of history and stopping when a prophet is mentioned to read their prophecy in context of the history. I read Haggai and Zechariah in context of Ezra and Nehemiah. I started 2 Kings and then stopped to read Isaiah. I got to Isaiah 30 the other day, and I’ve read it every day since. I can’t get enough of it. Israel had fallen and the Assyrians were coming for Judah. King Hezekiah rushed to Egypt for back up without giving a thought to God’s plans. Turns out, God was ready to fight for them. He had a message for Hezekiah through Isaiah: In repentance and rest you will be saved, in quietness and trust is your strength (Is 30:15).

Our church is starting to grow!
This is Noah. Keep going, keep trusting, keep obeying. I know God called me to be a missionary in Argentina. He keeps calling me to it each day. I can grow in His presence and joyfully walk in His plans for me because I know He is stronger than any enemy or ally. Noah had to work in obedience for years before the flood actually came, but obedience is easy when you know your purpose is from God. God has carried me through all kinds of anxieties, distractions, persecutions, excuses to accomplish His will. Obedience is fun when you know it’s what God wants. When I hear a voice behind me say, “This is the way, walk in it,” whenever I turn to the right or to the left (Is 30:21) I have nothing but the joy of the Holy Spirit.

But what if I’m not Noah? What if I’m Jonah? What if He’s trying to direct my steps, but I’m in the bottom of the boat asleep, ignoring my sin? 2 Kings is a repetitive motion of generations and generations of kings who ignored God and worshiped false gods. Just reading makes you frustrated. Why don’t you get it? Kings who do evil are defeated and kings who follow God are protected! Why can’t you figure that out? The worst are the ones who are so close. He did right in the eyes of the Lord, only the high places were not taken away, and the people still sacrificed and burned incense on the high places. Aaaaah! You realize that God is who He says He is, but you can’t be bothered to command the high places be destroyed? Really? I think that’s why Isaiah 30 speaks to my soul. It prophecies a time when the people of Jerusalem will recognize God as their Teacher and defile their graven images overlaid with silver, and their molten images plated with gold. They will scatter them as an impure thing, and say to them, “Be gone!” (Is 30:22) They’ll be so disgusted with their sin that they can’t wait to get rid of it.

Then the fear creeps in. Am I that ridiculous king? Is my work here in Argentina struggling because of some hidden sin? Am I blocking something God wants to do in or through me? There’s obedience and then there’s making deals with God. If I give up a, b, and c and faithfully complete x, y, and z, You’ll do what I want, right? But am I using that logic as an excuse because I really like a, b, and c and I don’t want to do x, y, and z? And very quickly my mental circles become more frustratingly repetitive than 2 Kings.

Rachel and me after a run with our new friend/crazy personal
trainer Yuliana. Pray that she will become more open to God.
I think some of the answers are in the similarities between Noah and Jonah. Each had a vibrant relationship with God. They were righteous men who spent time with God. They knew His voice and clearly heard His commands. I need to draw near to God so I can hear His voice guiding my steps, so I know how and when to obey. God made His expectations very clear to them. Noah obeyed. Jonah ran away. And then it rained. Noah stayed safe in the ark. Jonah was thrown into the sea.

Then He will give you rain for the seed which you will sow in the ground, and bread from the yield of the ground, and it will be rich and plenteous (Is 30:23). This is the rain I’m praying for. I’m praying for clear commands, the courage to obey, contentment in obedience, trust in God’s timing, and rain- rain that will grow the seeds we have planted here in Argentina.

Sirius Black
Team Update: We have welcomed a twelfth family member into the house; a black bunny named Sirius. He is very cute but very messy which makes him, in my opinion, a mistake. He is excellent stress-relieving pet therapy, until he pees on you. Fortunately that doesn’t happen very often, but it is absolutely not worth the risk. Right now his home is Juan’s room or the patio or the living room. Since he doesn’t have a cage, we tend to lose him. Without fail, when someone goes searching for him they start calling his name. I’m pretty sure this works with normal rabbits, we just have one that is particularly stubborn. When this fails, they start talking to him, “Sirius! Come out, Sirius! Come here Sirius… Sirius? Sirius! Sirius, vení! ¡Vení, Sirius! ¡Vení!” Again, I’m fairly convinced he understands both English and Spanish, but since he is so darn stubborn we’ll never know in which language he is more fluent.

Sofia lives across the street from us.
She lived in the States as a child and moved back here seven years ago.
These were her first pancakes in seven years.
Her words were, "I don't know the last time I was this happy."
She's 19, we'll allow her some exaggeration.

Please pray for her as she battles frustrations with living in Argentina.
Her mom, Erica, recently came out of remission from cancer.
Her whole family needs the hope of God.

Ashley, awesome pancake master