Monday, August 5, 2013


I have difficulty admitting need.  My self-sufficiency wants to be okay and together.  Yet, as we traveled to Vegas on our way to L.A. my stomach ached with pain.  Secretly, I hugged a pillow most of the way.  That evening during our group devotional time I confessed my pain and asked for prayer.  I think God was waiting for me to ask for help because the next morning I was fine.

This last post on what I learned in L.A. is the hardest for me to share, but I believe God would have me be real with you.  As the week progressed, my spirit became more and more humbled until I was completely broken before God.

It started almost the moment we arrived.  We were preparing to go on a prayer tour of the city and I was wearing the wrong color shirt.  It would seem a trivial matter, but I'm one who desires to follow the rules and do what I'm supposed to do.  I had tried hard to bring the right colors and had misunderstood.  (we could not wear gang colors)  While our city rep continued to talk, I had to raise my hand and receive permission to go back to the room and change while everyone waited on me.

When pride burns it hurts. 

While traveling I had worked on memorizing 1 Cor. 13, the love chapter.  The thoughts on putting away childishness stood out to me.  It was like God was saying, "Grow up!  Enough already!"  Privately, our missions trip to L.A. was nothing about the people we were reaching out to, but about my heart coming to a place of surrender.

We were only allowed 5 minute showers every other day, so when it came our turn they were highly valued.  One time we came down for our shower and another group staying at the facility had locked us out.  Complaining started.  Later that day, as we were loading students into the van, they began to fight over who got to sit where.

At noon we went to a city park for sack lunches, devotions, and debriefing.  There we found a large play snake imbedded in the ground.  I'm not one to believe there is a demon behind every bush, but the timing fit.  I couldn't help but think of satan's schemes to divide and distract us from why we came.

In the background was a windmill which produced an eerie creak every time the a breeze blew.  It became very annoying and I thought about how bothersome our petty squabbles must seem to God.  I thought of the 'resounding gong' and 'clanging cymbal' and that if we don't have love we are nothing.  

I asked my husband about sharing a devotional the next morning.  The lessons I had prepared for VBS were not needed, yet I felt there was some reason God had given them to me. . . perhaps for this moment.

I received the go ahead and shared the lesson on "You Have What it Takes to Overcome" from Phil.2 and David and Goliath.  We talked about how our focus needs to be on why we came, not on our discomfort or our differences.  Selfishness so easily rears its ugly head popping up in the most unlikely places.  We needed to go after the giant, not each other.

But God was not done with me yet.

I felt more and more inadequate as a leader.  The final straw occurred when a local lady at one of the ministry sites literally yelled at me for being in the way.  I won't give details because it is one of those embarrassing moments that is too embarrassing to tell.  Later she came and apologized, but then I felt badly that she felt bad.

Last, but not least, I ran into some tension with my husband.  Sometimes it's hard to share him with a whole youth group.  

That night I had opportunity to be alone in my room and I took it.  But so did Satan.  I was clobbered with accusations which took me lower and lower into depression.  I did not want to be there and wished I'd never come to L.A. 

After all the girls were tucked in for the night, I grabbed my flashlight, and hidden under the covers, read my book, Absolute Surrender, by Andrew Murray.

God finally got through to my heart and showed me how deep was my pride.

I knew I was far from the holiness He desired.  I also knew that I could not be holy of my own sufficiency.  Each way I turned I had sin in my heart.  Broken, I surrendered the rest of the trip to the Lord.

I can't say we did not continue to have a squabble here and there, but I did notice students making great efforts to be kind and loving towards each other.  You could say we bonded through learning to love.  The hard work, as well as ninja playing, affirmations, and many miles of traveling together also helped.  But once I released my expectations and agenda to the Lord, the trip became much more pleasant for me. 

True humility is not aware of itself.  Yet, we are also commanded to pursue it.  I believe God used L.A. to break and humble my pride.  It was not at all what I expected, but God had His plan for growing me into His likeness and nothing could thwart that plan. 

I wanted to return from L.A. reporting on our impact, or the children who came to know Jesus, or how great my lessons were.  But "my" lessons were never much used.  Instead, God gave us exactly what we needed:  brokenness, love for one another, endurance, humility, compassion, a servant's heart, and a teachable spirit; all the things of love, the glue that binds us together in perfect unity.

I pray that what was started in L.A., this bond of love, will continue to grow us up into maturity in Christ. 

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