There's this little story in Haiti about a family of nine living in one small hut.
One day, one of the men was complaining to his friend about the conditions.
"It is SO crowded...it's always a mess, and it's impossible to sleep with that many people!"
"I know EXACTLY how to fix that," said the wise friend. "Take your goats, and move them into the house with you.
"What?! That'd be awful!" says the man.
"Trust me, move the goats in with you."
So, the family of nine moved their goats into the tiny house with them and a week later, things were far worse.
"Now life is unbearable!" the man complained to his friend once again. "It is so dirty and so loud and so crowded!"
"Oh!" said his friend. "OK, then move the goats back outside and see."
A week later as the friends chatted again, the man of nine rejoiced, sharing what a wonderful life the nine now had, living together gratefully in their one small hut with NO goats.
My life has been feeling a lot like that lately.
There are a lot of things in life I'm no where close to figuring out. It was pointed out to me not long ago that planning out the future sure would be a lot easier if we would just know exactly what the next several years were going to bring, and when, and where.
I don't know much about how long and which country and what capacity except that He continues to confirm His call on our lives right now in Haiti. I don't know when Nora is coming or when we're therefore able to head home...don't know if all of these funding efforts are going to make a way for Emmaus this next school year by His grace or not...don't know if the Night with Emmaus + Sidewalk Prophets is going to be a powerful packed-out night or a powerful empty night. I don't even know if Matt is ever coming home, or so it feels.
As a matter of fact, about all that I DO know are God things.
I know that whatever it is, He wants it done with great love. I do know that it is to be done by great faith and boldness, testifying of His faithfulness and grace. I do know that it is to be done unto Him and for His glory and that all we have and are, including time and talents, are HIS to do with whatever He will for as long as He will graciously use us.
And lately, the goats in my house have me being reminded that ALL of it, whatever "it" is, is to be done with great rejoicing. With a grateful heart.
Yesterday as I finished 1st Peter, a simple verse I've heard and read a hundred times struck at a chord in me I wasn't aware existed.
My husband is a great weapon against anxiety in my life. My neighbors. My co-workers. As we all live together in community, they are constant sounding boards. Reasoners. Helpers. Reminders.
But spending my evenings alone and going to bed alone in an empty house each night, watching over my children, it's so much easier for the temptation to worry and fear to creep in.
But as I read 1 Peter the other night, I realized that not only have I been permitting worry to creep in, but also this lidea (what I call ideas that creep in that are lies) that because I DON'T have Matt, neighbors, co-workers, because I am a constant guest, because I am not working on the ground at Emmaus...that I am somehow little more than an irritation or inconvenience.
Then He spoke.
Humble yourselves under my mighty hand, casting all your anxiety on Me, because I care for you. Your adversary prowls, seeking to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that I will perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.
Under His hand, cast all your cares, because He cares for You. Resist, be firm. Be established by Him.
It led me to Philipians 4:6-7, equally well known and yet seen in a whole new light lately.
Rejoice in the Lord always, again, I say rejoice.
The Lord is near.
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, suppressing all comprehension, will guard your hearts and minds in Jesus.
He cares for us, He is near, and He requires rejoicing.
Everything...with prayer + thanksgiving = the peace of God.
Perhaps there are times when our rejoicing and thanksgiving is ONLY because God is near. Because He cares for us.
It is WORTH rejoicing. Is it not? The Holy Mighty God, He is near? Caring for me?
Perhaps it is possible to rejoice along the way at times simply because anything that makes us NEED God more is, truly, a blessing?
So I can rejoice--in this time without Matt, in this time without neighbors, in this time without co-workers, in this time without guests, in this time of NOT knowing and NOT having everything worked out, in this time of NOT being able to control or assure EBS's finances or our own family's (which has actually been the last 9 years :), in this time of being pregnant and alone with little ones, in this time of NOT being home--because it makes me so needy for Him...a gift.
Perhaps everything, everything, when addressed with prayer and TRUE thanksgiving can result in His great and lasting and incomprehensible peace?
Perhaps I can rejoice, truly, because of who He is and how He cares, with nine in my hut and goats to boot, obeying to rejoice.
Does that mean I have nothing else to be thankful for? Of course not....I have a million things to be thankful and grateful for in my life right now, and will be sharing some tomorrow. But if there was nothing outside of who He is, what He has done and how He loves? It would be more than enough for a lifetime of gratitude.
Don't know what all your anxieties are today...what painful truths we're battling...what temptations we're standing firm against...what many things seem to be robbing us of our joy.
Let's be people of prayer, with thanksgiving. For He is near, and cares intimately for you. Resist our enemy, father of lies and worry and mistrust, and may we therefore be people of gratitude, resting in His perfect circumstance-less peace.