Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Latvia Update: Strength for the Weary

Slip-n-Slide Kickball on a rainy day
Kolbi sharing her testimony, a beautiful story of God's redemption

Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.
(Isaiah 40:28-31)

That's the verse that my beautiful wife wrote in a note that I read this morning, and the verse I shared with the Fusion team. We have been in Latvia for a week, and our trip has reached the halfway point.

We. Are. Tired.

Physically, emotionally, relationally, we are quite spent. But it seems that when we come to the end of ourselves, we actually have to trust in the Lord to be exactly who He says He is: the source of our strength, the one who gives power to the faint, the Creator of all. So even thought we're tired in all those ways, we are being renewed by the Lord and given the strength to continue to live out the Gospel and love both the Latvian students and one another.

Our team has been a beautiful picture of the body of Christ this past week. They serve using their gifts and talents; they step up to help one another when there is a need; they ask for prayer to the group, and immediately receive encouragement and prayerful support; they laugh with each other, cry with each other, and carry one another's burdens. Cailee Dolberry shared this relevant passage from Romans 15 in our team gathering today:

We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up. For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.” For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

I'm writing this on Independence Day, when Americans will light off fireworks and have barbecues and wear red-white-and-blue paraphernalia. The fourth of July is the day we celebrate freedom in America. As a citizen of the kingdom of God, I believe there is a far better freedom than American democracy (or any system of government) can ever offer. When Jesus began his ministry on earth, he went to the synagogue in his home town, opened up the scroll to Isaiah, and read these words:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
    because he has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
    and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
19     to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

This is the truest of freedoms. This is the King who offers us life in his kingdom. We're experiencing the kingdom in Latvia, and it is liberating indeed.

May Your kingdom come and Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

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