Thursday, January 7, 2016

A Checkbook and A Car Trunk Life

It is a beautiful moment...

Picture perfect. Facebook post worthy!

Tears of joy are shed. Everyone is smiling and crying and laughing. Praises go up to the Father. And in our minds the next part of the story should say,

"And they lived happily ever after..."

But the story doesn't go like that.

It's the day when a missionary first submits to giving their life to the Lord. Often kneeling beside a bed or at the altar, the missionary hands the checkbook of their heart and life to the Lord and prays through tears, "Lord, use it however you want. It's ALL yours."

And God takes hold their life's checkbook, full of blank checks, and takes them at their word... It's His.

For me, I have to admit that was the easy part... Handing the whole checkbook to Him.

But when He started filling out the individual checks, I had to swallow a little hard. Sometimes I cringed (and sometimes I still do.) He slowly fills in the amount on each check and I peek over His shoulder as He writes and signs His name. And with each written check, I realize a little more what a fully surrendered life is going to cost me.

There have been a few times that the words slipped from my lips,

"Wait, I didn't sign up for this!"

Not once did He scold me when the thought entered my heart.
Not once did He look at me with anger or disapproval.
Not once did He grasp my life's checkbook and yell, "It's mine! ALL mine!!! You said I could have it!"

Instead, His eyes shined with compassion and He called gently for me to trust Him using verses like:

Romans 8:28 "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." 


1 Peter 1:7 "That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:"

And once again I would yield my life's checkbook into His loving hands.

I remember when we were on deputation. We were at a church sharing our burden with the people. After the service, a sweet and very generous woman approached me. "Come out to my car. I have something for you."

We went to her car and she opened her trunk. It was loaded with small, beautiful, and shiny boxes. Jewelry boxes. She made handmade jewelry. And not just any handmade jewelry. The items were obviously skillfully made using supplies from specialty jewelry craft shops. Her trunk wasn't Dollar Tree trinkets. It was real treasures.

As she swung the trunk of her car open, she graciously announced, "Take anything you want." I was speechless! I was overwhelmed by her generosity.

So I pondered over each piece and then did the polite thing. I modestly picked a single item that I really liked, but that I knew wouldn't come across as me being greedy. She looked at me pleadingly.

"No, I mean take ANYTHING you want and as many as you want." Oh I liked them all! Every bracelet, every matching pair of earrings and necklaces. They were gorgeous! So what did I do? I modestly picked out another item that showed my gratitude but didn't give way to a selfish testimony. But she was persistent. Again and again she begged me to keep selecting. I finally walked away with four necklaces and several earrings to match. If I would have told her I liked them all, I am convinced she would have packed up the whole trunk to send with me. Clearly some people have the spiritual gift of giving.

Now imagine me opening the trunk of my heart and life and telling the Lord, "Take ANYTHING you want!" That's pretty easy to say... until He starts actually selecting. I think often I expect Him to select modestly just like I did with that precious woman's jewelry. We keep expecting Him to look up and say, "Are you sure?" and then to ask permission again with each item He selects

 "May I take this one, too? Oh, that one is too precious? Well, then I won't take that one."

But His selection process is much different than mine was. As He reaches in the trunk of my life, He isn't selecting things based on His likes... but based on His love for me and His wisdom.

I swing my trunk wide open and tell Him anything He wants... it's His! But then as he starts taking, it begins hurting. It begins costing me. I begin seeing the real price.

And I am not alone. Missionary women all over the world have opened the trunks of their lives and given them to the Lord. But as He started taking things out... they had to recount the cost.

You see, when we all signed up for "whatever You want, Lord," we didn't realize exactly what He was going to do.

We didn't sign up for earthquakes and petrol shortages and riding bicycles on dangerous roads.

We didn't sign up for sicknesses like malaria, Crohn's, diabetes, MS, auto immune disorders, and some diseases that we have to look up to even see how to spell them because we surely can't even pronounce them properly.

We didn't sign up for having our first baby on the field... alone with no family and friends to share the struggles as well as the excitement.

We didn't sign up for missing the birth of grandbabies and weddings and funerals and graduations.

We didn't sign up for raising our children on the field and then having to drop them off for college thousands of miles away while we return to the field.

We didn't sign up for not being able to be there when our children, our parents, our sisters and brothers needed us... through struggles and sicknesses and emergencies and even deaths.

We certainly didn't sign up for our own children getting sick on the field... epilepsy, stroke, autism, catching on fire from a woodstove.

We didn't sign up to have our family robbed, beaten, raped.

We didn't sign up for bombs and protests.

We didn't sign up for endless paperwork and red tape and permits that take weeks, months, years.

We didn't sign up for no electricity, no water, ant infestations that look like a horror film, snakes and critters of all sizes as well as all levels of lethal force.

Crowded bus rides? Um... claustrophobia!

We didn't sign up for the pain and agony of language school, nor the weight of homeschooling on the field with little resources. We certainly didn't sign up to have to learn piano in our 40's.

We didn't sign up for gossip and slander, nor for dealing with people whose sins are so shocking we blush just thinking about it.

We didn't sign up for watching our husbands work such long, tiring hours day and night... no date time... no childcare... and then to watch him bear the weight of discouragement.

We didn't sign up for always feeling unattractive because the best hairdresser in the area can't even mow grass, much less cut hair straight... or because the humidity makes fixing hair a waste of time... or because the culture where we live insists on letting us know we are fat.

We didn't sign up for the loneliness... oh, the loneliness!!!

We didn't sign up for sudden deportation and losing almost everything in an instant.

We didn't sign up for....

But before you are completely overwhelmed by all of this, I have to interrupt and let you know... though we didn't realize what we were signing up for... we are so glad... so thankful we DID sign up ... even for the harsh trials. Our voices are strong to declare that this story has a happy theme.

You see, when I was taking jewelry from the woman's trunk, she left with less than she came with. But when God selects things from the trunk of our life, He is making room for treasures... real treasures. Unimaginable treasures! And He places those things in our trunk.

Peace. Joy. Contentment. Thankfulness. Intimacy with Him so deep that it cannot be explained. Fruit for our labor. Hope. Endurance. Temperance. Growing in knowledge of who our Father is... our Provider, our Sustainer, our Healer, our Friend, our Refuge. Our SAVIOUR!

These treasures will not fit in our trunks without Him removing other treasures.

So, we swing open the trunks of our hearts and lives. We say, "Lord, it's yours."

And when He selects a treasure that hurts... a treasure that makes us cringe... a treasure that urges us to close the trunk, He faithfully reminds us of His goodness, His love, and His wisdom. So, we pull the trunk back open and trust Him. And He has never failed us yet!

Psalm 34:4  I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears. 

Psalm 27:14  Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD. 

Psalm 126:5-6  They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him. 

Isaiah 55:8  For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. 

2 Corinthians 1:4  Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. 

We may not have signed up for it,
but we are thankful we surrendered that, too.


Thank you to those BMWs who shared their hardship testimonies as well as their praise to the Lord for using their trials for their good and His glory. You have shown the world that God is faithful and can be trusted with every treasure in our trunks.


Susan Abbett said...

I am bawling like a baby! I love the way you have weaved together selflessness and sacrifice, from God's perspective to our own. May I always give Him the checkbook, and let Him be willing to take what He wills. Wonderful post!

Samantha said...

Thank you for sharing the saga of missionary life.

Donna said...

Amen! Well written. Thank you for taking the time to write!

Brenda Fricke said...

Bawling like a baby here in Florida too! To God be the glory for all missionaries (and others) willing to open wide their trunks and checkbooks. Thank you for writing.

Jessi said...

Excellent post and timely for me. I needed that tonight.

Christine said...

Thanks so much for sharing. My husband and I and our six children (ages 13 down to 10 months) are 8 months into deputation. We just set off for another 3 month set of meetings. There certainly have been difficult moments, but God continually blesses. This post was a timely encouragement and reminder to not lose His perspective.