05 May 2016

lots of love.

There are about 35 different topics swelling in my mind and heart right now, which would be the longest blog post ever written (which for me, is saying something).  It's a time of intense learning and waiting and abiding right now, and I am so thankful to be in a Mary-stage of life.  Martha and somebody else will have to cook dinner, because I am at. His. feet. and can't imagine going anywhere else.

This week is our last official week of the semester -- THANK YOU for all of your help and prayers and love and encouragement that has carried us through what truly has been a GREAT year with a lot of advancement for His kingdom (in review, coming soon.)
While there is still a lot going on next week, with the big finale (graduation) on the 13th, today the students celebrated their relationships with the fourth year students, and that was beautiful.

But there was this one dolled-up ribboned chair on the stage for fourth year that was empty.

Everything happening just as it should -- joy and sadness to see and send our fourth year students off after these four years of relationship.  Hearing little stories of these four years they have lived together.  So proud of the men and women they are, they way they serve each others and their communities.  Proud of all of the hard work they have put in.  Proud (and I'm using pride here in the BEST way) of the character they display in a country, in a WORLD, without much.
In particular, several of them have just shown and lived so much spiritual maturity...so much servant-hearted leadership.  They have finished so well.  And I am so proud of them.

But there was that one empty chair, because at the very end, right when everyone is tired...but when it matters the VERY most...one made a really un-godly set of decisions.  He compromised Christ-like character for something he really really wanted more, and then when confronted with the sin, stood by it...dressing it up, blaming it on others, explaining it away, justifying it continually.

And though graduation is in ONE week, though everyone just wants to finish well and happy, confronting it, dealing with it, and allowing the consequences to come through is vital if there is truly LOVE.

Because the training is NEVER finished.  Because our character, His standard, the pursuit of Christ canNOT graduate and be done. Because wrong must be called wrong, and truth must be called truth, and confronting sin in love must be called sin, in love.

There were a lot of tears.  And not all of them his.

But I was proud in a different way, as I watched our staff boldly and lovingly, graciously and firmly come around him.  Proud as I watched his class-mates, brought in to understanding, admonish him and pray for him and cry for him with love in their eyes.

Love in their eyes for him, yes.

But through the love in their eyes for Jesus.

It hurt my heart, because at graduation week, after so much work and sweat and tears and training and sacrifice, you want to stand them up and proudly say, "This is our product!"

But God's reminding me that that's NOT what graduation or the end of the year is for.

Man's heart is never our product, only God's. And it is God's product only when it is continually handed over to Him for His shaping, His discipline, His formation.   His refining.

And His refining isn't finished this week, not for our graduates, not for any of us.

There is NEVER a time that character doesn't matter or that it doesn't come through, friends.  And there is a never a time when we can sweep what is right under the rug for the sake of what we want without breaking His heart.

Why was eating from the Tree of Good and Evil sin?  Because Adam and Eve decided that they knew better than God.  They knew what was best, and it wasn't what God said was best.

This issue with our student, instead of driving me to discouragement, plunges me back into His word to be shown where in my own life I'm lacking in character, and rolls up my sleeves for His ministry.

Until our dying day, those around us continue to be our mission field, and if we only love them enough to celebrate and encourage and "love on" them, we are missing a major component of the cross and a major component of the love that put Him there..the love that runs deep enough to discipline, to not leave us where we are at, broken and settled...to not let us serve and live for ourselves, knowing there is no true happiness or life in it.

The love that knows that HIS best is THE best for each and every, and that is unwilling to leave others muddling in a less-than-His-best arrangement.

It was for freedom he set us free, so let us "act as free men, not using our freedom as a covering for evil, but as servants of God." (Gal. 5:1) (1 Peter 2:16).

It's going to be a post a day for a while...!

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