Lean into the Tension
Our family moved to India January 2010, and my heart was bursting to share the love of God and Gospel with some incredible people for which the Lord had burdened my heart. I had been through some wonderful training on how to do this. My heart, love, and desire to do this had been growing for years. Finally, now, the time had come—we were moving to be part of the greatest task in some unreached places! I was so excited, and I definitely had great ideals and plans in my mind of what those first three years of ministry might look like.
My first three years India, I was pregnant and/or nursing every single day. I delivered my 4th and 5th babies. I had a house full of newborns, infants, toddlers, potty-trainers, pre-schoolers, and little kids just starting elementary school. I began homeschooling said kids. I had just moved to a new country, was learning a new language, and then moved to a new city, still learning that language. We were now living in a culture almost opposite of our own and trying to learn and love that culture. Those three years were definitely a season when I felt overwhelmed and like I “couldn’t” do anything my heart was bursting to do. Man, when I type that out, I wonder why I beat myself up so badly those three years. But, I sure did…I always thought I wasn’t doing enough…my heart was still bursting and burdened to be doing more. I beat myself up a lot in those years. Ministry looked very different for me those first three years, and honestly, because I wasn’t doing what I longed to do there was a great tension in my mind and heart almost daily. I felt like a failure, I so often wanted to throw in the towel.
But, man, I am sure glad I didn’t throw in the towel. When I wasn’t able to keep up with what my heart was longing to do, I realized I needed to learn what I could do and what I should do. I learned to ask the Lord daily what I “should” be doing—that was the hardest, best thing I did.
Instead of looking at this grandiose list of tasks I made and put on myself, I asked the Lord what I should be doing.
Instead of looking at what my teammates were doing, I asked the Lord what I should be doing.
Instead of looking at all the ideals—some kind of perfect best-case scenarios, I asked the Lord what I should be doing.
Instead of letting undo pressure I was putting on myself overwhelm me, I asked the Lord and I also asked my supervisors to help me get this right.
Instead of trying to initiate and do my own thing, I went along side others and encouraged them and asked how I could help.
Still, there was so much tension! My heart was wanting to do more, but in my season of life, I wasn’t able to do it (at least I couldn't do it the way I envisioned and had thought). This was a perfect time for me to learn that when we are weak, He is strong. His grace is sufficient. His power is made perfect in weakness.
2 Corinthians 12:10, “For the sake of Christ, then, “I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
2 Corinthians 12:9, “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
1 Corinthians 1:27-29, “But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.”
It was so hard to hear His voice during those hard days. I wanted so badly to give myself to so much more and I felt like I wasn’t. It was so hard to know I was doing what was right when I often felt like I didn’t study or practice the language enough or share the Gospel enough. I often felt like a failure. But, all the while, He was showing me other things:
how to find my identity in Him alone and not in what I do.
how to listen to Him and walk in obedience
how to be a mama
how to support my husband in a new job
how to share my faith with those I rubbed shoulders with
how to live in a new place well—language, culture, life, so much!
a compassionate heart for others that feel so overwhelmed by the newness of what overseas life brings
how to love and support the other women around me that were able to do some big things
The hardest work for me those first three years was fixing my eyes on the author and perfecter of my faith and daily asking HIM what I could do and what I should do!
Even harder than that was to remain in the tension of what I wanted to do but felt too weak for in that season. How do you keep that longing alive? You remain in the tension, keep fanning the flame of that burning, and do what you can and what you should.
It is essential that you ask the Lord, listen to Him, trust Him and walk in obedience! It is essential that you have joy in the season you are in and not miss out on what He is doing in that very season!
One thing I tell others is to keep the tension of that burning of what you long to do even during the seasons you can’t do it. God is working in you and teaching you many other things so that when a new season comes and you are able, you will still know how, still have that burning desire, and you will walk in the opportunities set out for you. It was a fight and a battle to keep that tension. I wanted to be rid of it, but I know processing through it and remaining in the tension is a great place to be. And, as I have come out of those overwhelming times, I have been able to take on opportunities, jump back in, and do things in joy and gratitude. I still have that burning and desire. I am able to walk in the good works that He has set before me.
To be honest, I still have tensions and things I long to do--some new, but I am not quite able. But, I keep pursuing Him, walking in obedience with what I can do for now, and learning.