” My heart is like unvented wine;
it is about to burst like new wineskins.
I must speak so that I can find relief;
I must open my lips and respond.
I will be partial to no one,
and I will not give an undeserved title.
For I do now know how to give such titles;
otherwise, my Maker would remove me in an instant.”
Sometimes I feel like Elihu, who was speaking these words to Job–so I write.
Because our passions can often be misguided, and a word once spoken cannot easily be taken back, I try to practice caution. But it’s a lesson I am continually working on–so please forgive me if I err in my words–and give grace to my passionate heart, but I must say it:
There is no glory here.
At least not the kind of glory that is bestowed on an athlete or a superstar.
Madagascar is a glorious island, yes. It is raw in its beauty and in its simplicity. A spectacular landscape with fascinating species.
For the people of Mada, life is not always easy, and opportunities are limited–but HOPE is real, and GOD is alive and well. He loves the people of this nation, and He has sent our families to tell them–they are living here, working here, serving here. And raising their families here. There are less than 20 families on this island of 22 million.
Our team of eleven came to encourage these missionaries who are living on this island and the islands surrounding it. We tend to put these missionaries on a pedestal–calling them heroes and saints– but more than ever I am reminded that these are REAL people with REAL families and REAL needs.
I came to see my babies, of course.
It was a blessed bonus for volunteering to come, but my motives were two-fold.
We felt privileged to serve our missionaries. It was a rare opportunity! Caring for their children while they were meeting together as a team, we used the 2015 Lifeway VBS material, Journey Off the Map, to give the kids a fun-filled few days with music, crafts and even missions! My heart’s desire for these missionaries was that we would be a source of encouragement for them as we demonstrated love for them and for their children.
To be His hands and feet.
To follow His example by loving, serving and encouraging these who have sacrificed so much.
These incredible people didn’t leave their humanity in the States. Their stories aren’t much different from you or I. Their calling is just… different. And they will tell you–while it may not be glamorous, and is often difficult–it can be glorious. Not the kind of glory we see portrayed on the big screen, but the kind that shows what life can be when we are totally depending on God.
If you watch American T.V. you will see a very skewed idea of what “normal” is–as opposed to “glamorous”. Hollywood will tell you that if you want true happiness, you will find it in wealth, power, position and possessions.
It’s all a lie.
In recent days we have seen many famous people end their own lives because they have lost hope–a reminder that the perpetuated lie is empty and meaningless.
In the harsh realities of a third world country, you can see this truth more clearly than ever: HOPE comes from within–and is not based on our outside circumstances.
Here poverty is real.
Struggles are real.
Spiritual darkness is real.
But even here in Madagascar, the greatest struggle faced is against our own humanity and the desire to live life OUR OWN WAY. The struggle is real, whether you’re a pauper or a president. We will choose: live our lives the way we want, or follow Him.
The One who created us.
The One who gives us life and sustenance.
The One who gave HIS life for us.
The One who can bring joy in our sorrow.
The One who give hope in the midst of trials.
Here in Madagascar, where the average income is a dollar a day, life is simple.
This is their life. Not a glamorous one, and one that can wear you down physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
…and I’m not just talking about the missionaries! We were there only 7 days, and the struggle was real. We laughed together and cried together. We sometimes failed to be our best, but we were privileged to see God do the miraculous!
“…there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” Luke 15:10
This sweet girl has been serving beside her parents for almost two years now, and her spiritual struggle was real. Her decision to own her relationship with God will be life-changing. Will living in Madagascar still be difficult? Of course it will, but making the decision to follow Jesus–no matter what–takes on new meaning. She will begin to trust her own emotions and desires less, and as she grows in her relationship with the Lord, she will learn to trust Him more. That we could share in this special moment was a gift.
Because his wife was suddenly unable to make the trip, only a week from our departure, one of our team members was asked to take over the class of 4th-6th graders (not by coincidence!), and is standing with her as she is baptized by her father. What a beautiful picture!
Don’t you see? THIS is what it’s about. THIS is why we go. WE STAND BESIDE our missionaries who are giving their lives to make sure that ever person,
Is the desire for a life with meaning and purpose so illusive?
Only when we’re looking in the wrong places.
“The world has yet to see what God can do with a man fully consecrated to Him.”
If you are looking for purpose in a place or position or a person, you will spend your whole life searching. It will only be found when we position ourselves in a place where we can personally KNOW HIM.
Contentment? Happiness? Purpose? You can search the globe, and you will find it, not in success or riches, but in serving the God of the universe.
Does that mean we all have to be missionaries, pastors, or teachers? Not at all. When we give our lives to Christ, we begin a journey. And it begins,
I have seen the poorest among us sing with joyful faces.
The meager prayers of children to be the most profound.
AND the most sacrificial acts of service be of little monetary value.
The lie is real, but when you are but willing to see the truth clearly for yourself, God will give you a new vision of WHO HE IS, and WHAT HE CAN DO:
“What no eye has seen,
what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived–
the things God has prepared for those who love him.“
I Corinthians 2:9
For our pastor and youth pastor’s perspective on this trip, you can read their blogs here: