Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Mountain tops versus Valleys

I've heard this saying before: Mountain tops are great, but fruit grows in the valleys. I understand what this means in relation to the Christian walk. I understand that if I never had problems, I would never understand God's power, love, mercy, grace, etc; the same way that we would never understand cold weather if there was never hot weather.

Coming back from this missions trip, I don't find myself on the mountain top like some people, nor am I in the valley like other people. I guess I'm in the foothills. What's that about? What happens in the foothills? Where's the saying for that place?

In going to North Dakota, I was looking for a rest from my ordinary and a chance to serve others and see God working in other people's lives. And in typical missions trip fashion, I learned more about myself than I did anyone else. Sure, I made friends and got to know my current friends better (or at least in a different light), but what about myself? God sent me there, now where's my lesson? Is it selfish to want a personal lesson from God everywhere? I just want to see Him! To be close to Him and to know Him better than I ever have! That's my goal this summer. I want to spend so much time with Him that everything else I could possibly do pales in comparison.

In learning about the Sioux Indians and their traditions and how they currently live their lives, I found that the things they hold sacred are purely for the sake of tradition, there's hardly any heart behind it anymore. The tribal leaders are gone, the Powwows are now just dance competitions, and the children run around with no shoes and no one to care where they are or what they are doing. It was as if all their traditions that were once so important to them and filled with meaning are now empty and only there for the sake of tradition. The meaning behind their traditions has gone. What are my "traditions" and is there still meaning behind them or am I just walking this path because it's the one I know best?

We built a small playground, cleaned the church, mowed grass, planted flowers and a garden full of veggies. We played with the children and we cooked them food. The seeds were planted, and we left Pastor Boots to water and cultivate them.

Before we left, we prayed over Boots. Each person, one by one, came up and put their hands on Boots and prayed over him. He said later that he felt like he had been ordained a second time. There were tears in everyone's eyes. Looking back on it, it feels like we did so very little to actually help. The work of our hands and sweat of our brows can only do so much. Those people are in God's hands. May they accept His mercy before it's too late and they only see His wrath. We gave Boots an offering, I'm not sure how much, but I heard it was close to $500. I know Boots will put it where it is needed most.

1 Tim. 4:13-16 (Message)
"Stay at your post reading Scripture, giving counsel, teaching. And that special gift of ministry you were given when the leaders of the church laid hands on you and prayed- keep that dusted off and in use. Cultivate these things. Immerse yourself in them. The people will all see you mature right before their eyes! Keep a firm grasp on both your character and your teaching. Don't be diverted. Just keep at it. Both you and those who hear you will experience salvation."

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