1 Listen to me, you islands;
hear this, you distant nations:
Before I was born the Lord called me;
from my birth he has made mention of my name.
2 He made my mouth like a sharpened sword,
in the shadow of his hand he hid me;
he made me into a polished arrow
and concealed me in his quiver.
3 He said to me, "You are my servant,
Israel, in whom I will display my splendor."
4 But I said, "I have labored to no purpose;
I have spent my strength in vain and for nothing.
Yet what is due me is in the Lord's hand,
and my reward is with my God."
Yesterday as I chatted with Franci about where we are at in this work, what's the next step, and how to approach it, I was trying to convince myself, 'This work is not in vain'. As Franci and I look at the calendar, we have two weeks until vacation, then, when we get back from seeing our families, we have 4 1/2 months left working full time in Yanamayo and Huascar. That is because in January of 2012, we will start working in Chucuito and will only be visiting Yanamayo and Huascar for a few discipleship lessons and church services. Eeeeek! We have a lot to do in the next 5 months. This realization of the timeline and where we are at in these communities makes me scared. I'm scared of failure, I'm scared all this work will be in vain if these people with whom we've poured out our efforts and our souls do not continue down this path with our Savior.
So, as God works, I read this morning in Isaiah and what popped up, that fear, verse 4 speak exactly to how I feel.....But I said, "I have labored to no purpose, I have spent my strength in vain and for nothing.". So, I took a closer look at these verses and here's what I found, here is what God is teaching me today.....
First off, God called me to Peru, God called me to Puno while I was in my mother's womb. God knew the plans He had for me and he made me specifically, exactly how He wanted to fulfill those plans. I'm actually quite sure He made me insufficient for this job in many ways so that I would have no option but to rely on Him.
God molded my mouth. We all know its big! Only Ben Gort and I won the apple bobbing contest a few years ago, everyone already knew my mouth was big but that's when it was a proven fact. I am not eloquent with my words, I am not one of those people that can come up with awesome answers on the spot to difficult questions. My mouth, is not a sword, that is, it is not a sword without God's help. There are times I find words in Spanish flowing out of my mouth as we visit houses and I speak of the Lord. That is the work of God, flowing through me. My job is to be willing, a vessel ready for Him to use. God is polishing me and molding me, teaching me and guiding me. He is working on me and in me. He is preparing me for something, for this life He has planned for me. He is using me and forming me at the same time.
Well, my name is not Israel, and I am not the nation. But what verse 3 means is that "Israel" is a servant. Kristen is a servant, you are a servant. But how do we serve? In Isaiah, Israel is an example of an ideal servant, a servant who meditates on His Word, His Covenant (Isaiah 49:8), a servant who will lead people out of bondage (Isaiah 49:9), and a servant who will be a light to this world, who will bring the message of salvation to the ends of the earth (Isaiah 49:6).
So here I am, living in Puno, trying to fill myself up with Him only to pour it out on others. I'm tired and weary physically, emotionally and spiritually. I want indoor heating, American food, a girl's night out, the ability to walk to a driveway where a car awaits me, the presence of my family and more. But more than I want all of that, I want my time and my work here to mean something. I'm afraid of failure, I'm afraid this work will be in vain if these people don't continue down this narrow path. But that's the devil getting into my head, that's the devil giving me doubts about my value and purpose here in God's Will. I am comforted by the second part of verse 4 where it says, "yet what is due me is in the Lord's hand, and my reward is with my God."
I'm not looking for a reward, I'm not looking to be praised or honored, no. But what comforts me is that the one judging my work isn't me or any other person here on this earth, it is God. In KJV it says, "yet surely my judgement is with the Lord, and my work with my God." I like that. My boss is God, He will judge my work here, I work with Him and for Him. If I am faithful to Him, if I labor for Him, none of this will be in vain. I cannot fail if I follow Him and His path in this work, He will use me to display His splendor to this city, to these people.
Pray for Francisca and I as we struggle to know exactly how to manage these communities. How to disciple in a way that will nourish, how to bring up leaders, how to delegate responsiblities in the church, how to use our time wisely. Pray with us today that He would speak to us clearly on how to manage the logistics of this job because if we do things His way, we cannot fail, our work will not be in vain.