Faithful in France

If NBC news brought their cameras into my office, viewers would think a tornado had hit. Papers, cds, books and boxes litter the carpet, desk, bookcase”"it's everywhere. Katie Couric might cry. We're getting ready to go back to France in less than a week and winding up looks nasty, til you finally get it all together. This is the longest period we've been in the States (18 months) since 1981. The wheezing dollar and the strong euro kept us raising funds much longer than usual. Readjusting to the States was tough. Food tasted different. Our ministry changed. People in the churches worshipped with a different style than in Europe. Close friends in France communicated by email instead of over a good meal. And everyone spoke English! Often we would go into Walmart and almost speak French to the lady behind the counter. It seemed weird. Ah, but then we began to adjust. Mexican food (yes!), fried okra and cornbread (I'll explain those another time for my readers from the North, Canada, and Great Britain. Basically it's cholesterol city, as my high count attests). Football games (real football, not soccer), grandkids, worship choruses in English all became familiar again. And now that we're adjusted it's time to return and stretch back in the other direction.

Have you noticed that God doesn't let us stay long in our comfort zone, not if we're moving forward anyway? When we creep out of that area we already know well, growth occurs. Sin has a hard time getting its grips on us when we're moving and growing. I've thought a lot about my time here. What has God done in me the last 18 months? Have I grown? Here are a few things I have seen (not necessarily learned yet, but at least I see them) : *Grandkids are awfully sweet ”¦ for a few minutes. The problem is, they never run out of energy. They can wrestle on the living room floor for 24 hours consecutively without feeling any ill effects. Pappas are good for 10 minutes. But when they're not around you miss them.

*God will take you beyond where you thought you could go. A few times recently I thought I had reached my limit of patience and faith. And the Lord took me beyond that. He's always faithful and sometimes He takes me further than I want to go. But I do think He put some things into my life as result of these battles that are going to help me minister more effectively for Him. *Learn to enjoy where you are, not always thinking about how happy you're going to be when you get there (though the joy set before us is a motivating factor). The Bible speaks of a man who '”¦found no pleasure in blessing”¦” Ps 109:17b). God's blessings are constantly in and around us and He gives them to us to enjoy. If difficulties paralyze our eyes so that we can't look elsewhere, it will gut us of any delight the Lord wants to give us right now. We may never reach some of our goals.

David never built his longed-for temple but he got things ready so that Solomon could. Moses never set foot in the Promised Land (until the day he met the Lord on the Mount of Transfiguration nearly 1500 years later), but he put Joshua in a place to succeed. You may never reap the harvest you're planting in this life, so you need to enjoy the process. *Worry pushes things away. Some things in life hurt and we're not excluded from that just because we're Christians. But we can be joyous, even in tough times. And a constant fear of failure of disaster will sap us. A lady in Pine Bluff told me (from the Lord, I believe), 'Worry pushes things away.” Someone else said 'Worry is like rocking in a rocking chair. You use a lot of energy but you don't go anywhere.” I might add that it's not nearly as pleasurable as a rocking chair either.

Consciously replace worry with faith. Replace 'what if” in our hearts, mind and mouth with God's Word. *The most important thing in life is not my will for my life but His will for my life. Next week all the clutter will be in our temporary apartment in France. Instead of running around, canceling the internet service and the car insurance here, we'll be at the Prefecture trying to get our papers in order, looking for a car, and a thousand other things. And the God who is faithful in the United States will be faithful in France. As a matter of fact, He's faithful at your house, too.