Monday, April 28, 2014

Stop Asking God to Change You




The other day I read a prayer request online from a man who asked people to pray that God would release him from his shy personality and make him able to talk to others about Jesus more freely. This morning I read a blog post from a woman who was convicted in her church service yesterday for not witnessing and handing out gospel tracts. She felt that she was "hiding behind her writing" instead of praying for strangers on the bus. 

I was reminded of the time I asked God to..."Please get me out of the way so that you can shine more brightly in me God. Reduce the Susie and magnify the You in me." ...I thought I was making a grand gesture but God set me straight very quickly.

God has convinced me that we are each designed in a unique and wonderful fashion. We are not meant to follow a formula or a system...we are meant to be ourselves. If you are carrying gospel tracts and they are beat up and ragged because you could not get up the nerve to hand them out...dump them! Throw them away. That is not your style...let it go. 

God will use you...already is using you, just as you are. If you are a quiet person...He loves that about you. There are plenty of louder people around...don't you agree? Here is a story of God using this quiet writer just as she is....

I was part of a team that spent 14 days in the Philippines on a short-term mission trip. My usual "place" on these trips is as a mom figure to help the (college age) students adjust in a different culture and environment. Even though I am just as freaked out as they are! 

My journal of that trip records a desperate prayer I sent to God. "Father, please bypass my normal reserve and let me be open and comfortable and as loving to the people I am with as You would be in the flesh. Thank you for this amazing opportunity to express You and Your love to these people who are without hope."

That simple prayer was heard and I still smile when I remember how clearly He answered the desire of my heart. The parts of the trip agenda that I dreaded the most were the slum visits. These are makeshift shantytowns that are the worst I have ever seen in any other country. The "houses" are propped up boards, signs or corrugated metal for the better homes. There is no running water, electricity or sewage system. Dirty diapers, human waste and sludgy mud run freely between the unstable shelters for families as far as the eye can see.

As our group assembled to board the trucks that would take us outside the city to this land of forgotten people, we were divided up into smaller groups to visit different slum areas.  One group was in need of a Team Leader. I was shocked to hear my voice say, "I'll do it."  

I had three students and an interpreter with me. We began to walk among the streets or pathways that led into the strange and unreal neighborhood. The smells were the first obstacle to overcome. Then we had to figure out where the actual front "doors" were to these homemade houses. When that failed we just called out a "Hello" and waited to see who emerged.

At the first place a young, pretty mom invited us into the walk-in closet size home. Her 3 kids were on a bed. There were no chairs, just the bed and a fan and a TV connected to a long cord. When asked if we could pray for any needs she had, she told us that her kids were all sick. I had been watching her infant since entering. She was so still for a six month old! Just laid there and stared into space. No sounds or movement at all. 

The mom told us that the baby had stomach trouble. I had no idea what to do other than pray this simple prayer with my hand on her tiny body, "In the name of Jesus, I speak healing to this little tummy."

The baby immediately perked up and stared into my eyes, cooed and blew some bubbles! We all laughed and she and her mom laughed with us. Our team did not want to leave this wonderful spot of joy. We just wanted to stare into those huge brown eyes that really seemed to be seeing something delightful in us.

After we tore ourselves away and approached the next home, a smiling woman who wanted us to meet her 87-year-old mother invited us in. Entering her house involved climbing over several levels of mismatched cinder blocks with exposed re bar and garbage. We could not tell what was considered inside or outside.

These ladies graciously asked us to sit on their ripped and ragged green couch. The wall was decorated with a plaster, painted clock with no hands. Toothless 87-year-old Lola suffered from bad knees and arthritic shoulders. She could not lift her right arm very high. 

I told her that the day before I had seen a woman with arthritis in her back and hand get healed and that we would love to pray for her. She responded with a huge smile and said that she knew Jesus and was so happy we were there to pray for her!

God totally healed her knees while our hands were on them! She bounced her legs up and down again and again. Then I asked if we could pray for her shoulder and she began to make punching, boxing motions with her arms and said it was healed already! As we left she gave us each a zurbit-like-toothless kiss on our cheeks. So sweet and funny!

Do you want to know the most shocking miracle of that day? After going to several more families and seeing God do wonderful things both large and small, we felt some tiny raindrops as we moved along the path. I looked up and asked the interpreter of we could keep going to the rest of the homes. She strongly said no, that we needed to get out of the rain. I was honestly disappointed to quit. But she was right! Within another 10 minutes the rain was hard enough that we could barely see and we ran for cover under a large tin-roofed basketball court type spot. We had to shout to hear one another!

The miracle? It was that I was disappointed to quit!! Me! The background encourager who likes structure, planning and cleanliness. God heard and answered my small prayer with a minor change to my request. He did not really "bypass my reserve" as much as He gently used it to bring His presence into the homes of women who may have been frightened or suspicious of a louder and bolder personality knocking on their doors. 

God knows me. He knows you. We don't want to ask Him to change us. We want to ask Him to be Himself IN us. He created each of us with unique gifts, traits and personalities and he knows how to express His huge love through us to others. All we need to do is say Okay.



Video by: My friends, Katherine Martin & Daniel Martin - Three Heavens
(They just created this charming video this week! Not with me personally in mind, but the chosen name makes me feel pretty special!) Enjoy!

I'm going to cheat a bit this month and make
this my RJD contribution. Now click the pic and go see some
more Journal reveals! 

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22 comments:

  1. Oh Susie I love this story so much. What a treasure trove of memories for you...thank you for sharing these with us. Made me truly smile just thinking of that cooing bubbly baby and that toothless old woman bouncing her arthritic knees up and down and smiling with such joy...and you...disappointed to quit! What a joyous day that must've been for you and all who were a part. Yes, just let Jesus be Jesus inside of me...and it has to overflow one way or the other! Beautiful!

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    1. Thank you Pam. I am so glad I was an avid journal-keeper, or these details would have been lost.

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    1. You are welcome Byron and Crys. Thanks for coming by!

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  3. What an awesome post, Susie. I'm forever asking God to change this or that about me, always feeling guilty that I'm not like so and so. Thanks for getting me off the hook. ;)

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    1. Haha! Yes, you are off the hook to become like so and so! I think we can relax and know that God knows how He designed us, right? Thanks for coming by Pam.

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  4. Love this. Are you trying to get a jump on Random Journal Day? Seriously, beautiful points and reflections of our Good and Gracious God's creativity. He loves our uniqueness. He created it! Love the video too! Ha perfect name for the star!

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    1. Yah I thought about waiting for RJ Day for this flashback post but it felt right today.

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  5. I would pray to god to make my surroundings to be happy!

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  6. I once heard that God's anointing is on the real you and I so firmly believe this. Loved this post!

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    1. Hi Elizabeth, I love that way of seeing it and saying it! I agree. Thanks for coming by!
      Susie

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  7. Thanks for the wonderful stories, Susie. The Spirit of God at work in the world is amazing!

    Blessings and Bear hugs!

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    1. It really is amazing what God is doing around the world. Too bad it never seems to be big enough news to outweigh the bad stuff.

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  8. Beautiful story Suzie. Such faith and devotion within you. love always xx

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  9. I enjoye reading about your time on a mission trip. I love the video and the story about the star-shaped Susie.

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    1. Celeste, thanks for the comment and I really enjoyed your post on the Random Journal Day Link up!!

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  10. I love this story. How amazing that He can use us just as we are!!

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  11. Susie this is a very special piece, I am so glad to share it today. I needed to be reminded and I know many other people do as well. I saw a documentary about the Filipino garbage slums. I have family in the Phillipines I have never met, 3 siblings. What part were you in?

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All comments are good comments!