02 April 2012

Catching up... Multitude Monday - 1000 Gifts ~ Oases Moments

One of my favorite missionary bloggers is currently doing a series on the theme of "oasis." As the thermometer climbs, the dust blows, the river shrinks and food supplies dwindle for many of our friends and neighbors... that is a very real thing to think about, at least in this desert land where I live.
 So I've been mentally mulling over this idea, asking myself questions like
  • "Where do I go to find rest?" 
  • "How do I seek respite?"
  • "When is refreshment more than just something nice? When is it a true need?"
  • "What does relief look like?"
  • "To whom do I run when I'm seeking refuge?"
I started writing this post last week - missing my normal Monday post (hence the "catching up" in the title) because we were enjoying a spiritual retreat with one of our sister organizations. During that retreat, we were challenged with the idea that our faith in crisis means God is doing something. In other words, crisis times become periods of great growth, or as the speaker put it: "Faith either grows or it atrophies..." then asking the question: "Do I embrace recent faith challenges or retreat from them?" That is one of the very questions with which Tim and I have been wrestling - and it was so good to be reminded what God has to say on the topic!

But I was never able to finish writing the post - partly due to busyness and different priorities while the kids are on vacation - but probably mostly due to just feeling totally and completely drained:
  • colleagues facing political unrest and immediate potential evacuation;
  • yet another friend or neighbor asking... and knowing that saying no might mean someone going hungry (at best) while saying yes removes every last shred of margin we might still have... thus hating the consequences of whatever answer we give but still having to decide;
  •  the arrival and infiltration chez nous of another one of those nasty W. African bugs; 
  • consecutive sleepless nights with a sweet little one who dropped something heavy right on her big toe/toenail; 
  • still waiting, wondering what our future and this ministry will look like;
  • knowing we have dear ones back in the States walking through difficult times and wishing we could be there... do more than pray;
  • and even the unrest and insecurity in this mama's heart, missing my boy as he travels around W. Africa without me during his Spring Break... sigh...
  • friends leaving for a funeral in the States... sadness for their loss but (selfishly) also for me as I see them leave and then think of another, harder-and-weightier-for-me-goodbye coming soon;
Well, frankly, I just didn't have the gumption to finish this blog post at all last week, and that, even coming off the encouraging oasis of the retreat (which it so truly and really was). I find myself still feeling very much in need of more. How can it be that I'm not even two years into this term and already so completely and totally drained?

What do you do when you are infinitely thankful for the treasure of a God-provided oasis time, but still wonder how in the world to keep on keeping on if He doesn't give more?

It seems like I've been living this way for the past several months...

***Some might believe that is a result of bad choices on my part, and knowing those who've confronted me about this issue, it might very well be. The Holy Spirit's not yet convicted me of that - I wish He would hurry up and do so if it is the case -  otherwise I do believe I'm right where He wants me and walking in obedience, to the best of my knowledge.***

 ...and God has been teaching me much
about what it means to continue serving -even when I reached the end of me a long time ago- and aiming to do so with a joyful, thankful spirit. It is hard - and I probably fail a lot more than I succeed at the joy part in that equation. However, it is pretty powerful to see Him working through me serving, in me teaching... when I wondered how I was even going to pull myself out of bed that morning, when lesson plans are written during lunch right before class...  And yet each day, He gives grace and just enough for the moment, in the moment... and He is accomplishing so much more than I was, even while I was frantically spinning my wheels and doing my best to serve in my strength.

He's also shown me how I can hide behind Bible study and dissection of the biblical text to avoid relationship and intimacy with Him. Lately, I've found it more real and a lot scarier(at least for me)  to talk, to pray, to wait, then listen and act upon what He's teaching me - than to simply pull out the commentaries and interact with the inspired Word on my terms. I'm certainly not meaning to imply that such Bible study is not valuable - but rather that I can actually avoid listening to God by intellectually approaching the text - or striving to get something from it so I can teach my next Bible study. God is clearly showing me I need both to continue drawing closer to Him.

So, what do you do when you are infinitely thankful for the treasure of a God-provided oasis time, but still wonder how in the world to keep on keeping on if He doesn't give more?

I wonder if the answer to my question is found in finding joy and contentment in that longing for more of Jesus, in trusting that He will provide more and looking forward to that hope, and in asking Him to open our eyes to the oasis moments of each day?

Many, O LORD my God,
are thy wonderful works thy wonderful works
which thou hast done,
and thy thoughts which are to us-ward: they cannot be reckoned up
in order unto thee:
if I would declare and speak of them,
they are more than can be numbered.
Psalm 40.5

this week's gratitude list:

(#s 2037 - 2065)
sister organizations that include us, just to be nice

generosity of churches in the States that don't even know us, but have ministered greatly by praying and caring tangibly for us

opportunities for transparency that aren't often taken

spiritual retreat

awesome kids' program that they not only loved and left them feeling loved on, but also challenged them

challenged to seek deeper intimacy with the Bridegroom

feeling like I've been punched on the nose by this truth: righteousness that initiates from me and not out of intimacy with that Bridegroom is nothing more than filthy rags

oasis moments...

...and the longing for more... like oasis hours and days...

faith crises challenging me to a deeper walk

seeing what God does through my fatigue and weakness

kids starting to like math

old women beginning to read God's Word on their own 

my children expressing to me truth God's teaching them, truth that I'm still grappling with

ladies in Bible study opening up a topic of discussion that Lord-willing will lead to restoration and reconciliation within that group - when on most days I can barely get them to even voice an opinion

the hope and expectation that this season too, shall pass

saturday morning meetings that leave me encouraged and hopeful

an unexpected thank you "for persevering"

visiting with Mamata after not seeing her for a few weeks

burgers, fries, baked beans and fresh veggies with friends - I'm always overwhelmed when I think of the amazing people God has blessed us with in this life

peanut butter ice cream with m&ms... served in sugar cookie bowls... and we made it all ourselves

thrift store treasures

Sunday night thunderstorm... on April 1st??? Amazing!

young adult books that challenge me... and listening to my big girl tell me she got the message, too

fb chat with my too far-away boy

laughing when I asked him what he thought when he saw the ocean: "It's big!"

the privilege of spending all (or most) of the night talking and watching TV with my sweet Elsie Mae so she didn't think about her throbbing big toe

niece and friend (a "guy"friend) who serve by doing the dishes when I don't feel so well

joy and delight spilling out of pictures of a far away baptism that encourage on a day when I'm feeling low


  1. Hi! Enjoyed visiting and reading your gift list today. Thanks for stopping by my blog and saying hello! :)

  2. wow. "So, what do you do when you are infinitely thankful for the tresture of a God-provided oasis time, but still wonder how in the world to keep on keeping on if He doesn't give more?" Good question. And one I'm struggling with. I feel like the minute I adjust to 'nothing', He provides 'just enough' to take a few more steps. Problem is, I get afraid to take those 'next few steps' because I don't want to go back to being 'in nothing' again. {eh, hope that made sense}. I so needed this post. "I can actually avoid listening to God by intellectually approaching the text"...Ye-ouch! That one nailed me. But I needed it. So...Thank you. {I love it when God shows me I'm not alone with these thoughts...} ;)

    1. absolutely makes sense! glad to know i'm not alone, either!

      blessings, and thanks for stopping by.

  3. Richelle, I feel the "weights" bearing down on you as I read all that is going on in your heart and your life. It definitely feels like TOO much, but we know He never sends us TOO much. I hope you find rest for your soul today.


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