Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Good or best… life or death!??

After spending a couple hours this afternoon up on the mountain behind my house, enjoying nature, talking to my mom on the phone about the news that I haven't had a chance to share from the past week, and trying to unwind from the stress of the last few days, I came back to my cozy apartment. "Wow! What a blessing to have such a beautiful place to live!" I thought to myself. "God is good!" I grabbed a bite to eat from my overstuffed refrigerator, then I came and sat down at my computer. My computer has  become my constant companion and working partner through many long days and nights, especially these last few weeks. A ministry project that I thought would be done in a day or two has stretched on forever. Hours have turned into days and days and more days. I would think I was almost done and then there would be more. But finally at 3pm this afternoon it was done!!!! DONE!! I was so happy, I wanted to celebrate…so I went walking! It was about time I got outside…I had hardly moved from the computer screen all day.

But with the walk completed, I am back.

Since I will be working at the Hospital tomorrow, I figure that I better get some good sleep tonight. (After all, I was up working till 1am this morning…so I think I deserve a good night's sleep tonight.) Thankfully I have a warm cushy bed all to myself, so I can sleep in ease. Awwww….I'm already dreaming about getting under those warm covers... 

However, before I go to bed, I need to reply to a couple e-mails and look up some info a friend posted on Facebook. First I take care of the e-mails, then I open up my Facebook homepage. As I've been so busy, I haven't allowed myself much time to browse or read any updates on Facebook in a loooooong time. It's just one of those activities that can turn into a vacuum, and I've realized it doesn't really accomplish much of anything. But tonight, since I've finished my big project, I figured I can take a few minutes to catch up on the social world - a world that I feel far and distant from. 

However, before I know it, I forgot why I came there. The posts of my many Christian friends and even a few friendly strangers, that have befriended me, flash across the screen. The posts speak of happiness, comfort, good food, and great lives…lives that are privileged to be living the "American Dream."

Here are a few I saw on my homepage this evening:

  • I have the BEST husband in the world! Todd made a GREAT supper for me tonight.

  • I'm having a blast scanning old photos and making new printed albums out of them. It'll be a long process... more to come. 

  • Had the most AWESOME weekend with my Biology class! Best camping experience I've had in a long time… 

  • Finished 1 great book today, I'm hitting the gym for a break, go back to write school's assignments later... Long Beach marathon in 12 days... C'mon now Yan!! Let's do it!!!! 

  • I havent had any caffeine.......but i sure feel like i did. Got this happy energtic feeling going on. Really like it.

  • Just ate dinner at Tortilla Joe's and now checkin' out the tienditas!

  • Watching the piglet races at the kern county fair LOL! 

  • Ok I'm on this (health crunch) life style change-why does ALL the unhealthy foods have to taste the best? lol 

  • My family is on their way home!!! Yeah, can't wait to see them all. We are getting ready. I am soooooooooo excited….. 

  • After the girls are in bed going for a Target shopping run to clear my mind…FREEDOM!! 

  • SUPER excited about actually going to a theater with PURPOSE... first time since Fireproof, I think. A box of kleenex will be accompanying me this time around... ;) 

  • Ultrasound looking good…He's growing fast. We can't wait to meet Him!

  • Feeling a little nostalgic and melancholy... :( 

I have to smile….I'm feeling a little nostalgic and melancholy too. As I read the updates and look at the pictures of my friends and their happy lives. Then my eyes catch some updates of a different nature…

  • We need to pray for those thousands starving in Somalia as the worst famine in years wrecks havoc on the impoverished nation. Some 750,000 expected to die from the famine in the coming months.

I follow a link and look at photos of hundreds of starving children, their stomachs ballooning out, and their eyes sunken and hollow. Their oversized heads droop above bodies that are barely skeleton and bones. These aren't pictures from the past, but pictures from today…from this month, from this year. "What?" I wonder… "I had no idea?" I don't read the news, I don't watch television, and I rarely even read anything on Facebook. Of course I know there are many starving children all around the world…but I had no idea of the gravity that is hitting the Eastern portion of Africa…RIGHT NOW!!! No food, no water…people and animals are dying by the droves. Guilt over my own comfort floods my mind as I realize that just this morning I threw out an old loaf of bread, some left-overs that I was tired of eating, and a bowl of soup that didn't quite suit my taste buds. What would some of those people in Somalia give for such a delicacy.

Then I read another post, by a classmate of mine from college who, along with her husband, has dedicated her life to the unreached people along the Amazon River of South America. Through a series of providences, God brought them a beautiful boat and mission team and lives have been impacted for eternity along the Amazon. Lives that otherwise would have been left in darkness. Her posts, from just a few hours ago, jolts my senses. 

  • So thankful God spared the life of my husband and 19 other missionaries when one of our mission boats capsized Sat. Night. So sad one person lost their life. May God comfort us all. 

I read more, about how they had been visiting a village the day before and been sharing Christ. Then set out again down the river. Late during the night, a storm came up, and tore off the roof of the boat and capsized it. 20 people were trapped inside, but somehow God helped them get out…well, all but one. One young girl, a volunteer missionary, lost her life. This happened, not last week, not last year, but two  days ago…( My friend and her husband are pictured below with the boat that was destroyed.)

Then I read yet another post, from a former classmate who now lives in the Philippines and is a woman passionate about prayer.

"What? Execution?? Tomorrow?" I follow the link and find myself staring into the warmest and most peaceful face of a young man, probably younger than I, that has refused to recant his faith. He has a wife and children and has been actively serving the Lord. But the religious leaders of the land have determined he must deny Christ or he will die. I quote:

"The 11th branch of Iran’s Gilan Provincial Court has determined that Pastor Nadarkhani has Islamic ancestry and therefore must recant his faith in Jesus Christ. Iran’s supreme court had previously ruled that the trial court must determine if Pastor Youcef had been a Muslim before converting to Christianity.

However, the judges, acting as terrorists, who have a hostage, demanded that he recant his faith in Christ before even taking evidence. The judges stated that even though the judgment they have made is against the current Iranian and international laws they have to uphold the previous decision of the 27th Branch of the Supreme Court in Qom.

When asked to “repent” by the Judges, Youcef stated, “Repent means to return. What should I return to? To the blasphemy that I had before my faith in Christ?” The judges replied, “To the religion of your ancestors, Islam.” To which he replied, “I cannot.”

According to the laws of the land, someone will be given three chances to change their mind, but if they refuse after the third time, they will die. Tomorrow (which in actuality is already today now in his time zone) will be his last opportunity. Without a miracle, our dear Christian brother, a pastor and missionary for the Lord, will go to his death...

I turn away from my computer…suddenly I loathe my warm comfortable cushy world. And the world of those which I so recently was amused to read about… Birthdays, marathons, scrapbooks, shopping, special dinners, out to eat…It's just the stuff that normal every day American life is made of. And I can add to the list. This week I hung several beautiful African Giraffe pictures on my wall. (Pictures that reminded me of my own good times in the mission field this past spring.) I bought a box of popsicles that I could eat when I go sit in the hot-tub with my roommate. I ordered yet another Christian hero's book to read. I ate dinner with some of my friends and even spent time talking with important leaders of our world-wide church as we worked on projects together that will affect upcoming meetings at the General Conference. Yes…good things…but still…have I really given my all?? Shouldn't I be doing so much more??

I'm bothered by the discrepancy in our lives…in my own life. We all call ourselves Christians, and yet are we really living as Christ would when there is so much need? While I love Jesus with all my heart and feel that I have sacrificed much to work for Him, somehow after reading those last troubling Facebook posts, I don't think I've really sacrificed that much! I'm just like all the rest of my friends… I may not be rich, but I can choose whether I want healthy food or a special treat. I can choose whether I want to go jogging in the mountains or to a local gym.  I can choose whether I want to go to a friend's birthday party or whether I will relax at home. I have 5 different churches within a half hours drive that I can freely worship at with no restraints and no threats of death hanging over my head. I have many inspiring story books of martyrs and staunch Christian heros upon my book shelves, but am I really willing to be one myself? I may not have a great husband (like my first friend posted), but I do have a great life…and lots of photos to prove it, as my most recent Facebook posts will tell. Yes, I do try to help the poor and needy… yet, I get the uncanny feeling that I'm really not doing that much.

I have a full refrigerator and am throwing away left overs, but in many parts of the world right now people are dying because they have no food as the worst famine in years ravages their land. I have a warm comfortable bed, but many sleep in the dirt with not even a roof over their heads. In other parts of the world believers of Christ are being forced to give up their very lives for the gospel…and me… I'm complaining because I've sat behind a computer for hours and days on this big writing project. I'm tired, I've lost some sleep. I need a break……Or…... maybe I need a change of priority???

I don't know about you, but I'm once again convicted that I need to be doing a lot more. I think we all do!! We have become too comfortable! We call ourselves Christians, but instead of occupying our minds with Christ and the work He came to earth to do (and has now assigned to us), we've gotten preoccupied with our studies, our jobs, our diets, our Christian movies, our social world, our google world, our Facebook world. We've even gotten occupied in the busyness of ministry. (Like the telegraph operator in the previous post!) So busy, that we've forgotten how to build fires and how to take a personal interest in the needs of those around us….too busy to take daily personal time with a one-on-one relationship with Christ.

As I read through the Facebook quotes again, after seeing the three that pricked my heart to the core, my eyes were opened. At least 90% of the posts, of my Christian friends, all centered around frivolities. (Now for those of you that may be reading my blog, forgive me! I'm not meaning to nit-pick. My eyes have just been opened, not just to my friends, but to myself as well. It's the sad reality of our lives!) These aren't bad things…but they are all too often frivolous things. But what is most scary is that they are taking the time and attention from our lives that should be devoted to the best thing…to Christ and to the work of launching life rafts, to being a true missionary and witness for Him. 

Do we realize that most people miss the best in life because they settle for the good?? They could have had the best grades, but they settled for good. They could have been the best witnesses and won many souls to Christ, but they settled for being good and instead made a few people smile for Christ. They could have dug a little deeper in the Word and had the best food, but instead they settled for the superficial. They settled for the good. They could have waited for God to give them the best marriage partner and experienced a little heaven on earth, but instead they got impatient and settled for the good. They could have given God their best time, but instead they only gave what felt good. And thus, instead of the best, God only gave the good. They could have given all, and received the best…but in the end, they only gave what seemed good. 

Someday, settling for the good when God wanted to give us the best is going to cost us…so we have a choice now. What will our priority be? Will we choose God's best…or will we sit back and relax and settle for what seems good?

I know that I'm up on a soapbox preaching…but it's for myself I preach. "Lord help me?! How do I let go of my comforts and surrender more? I feel like sometimes I'm so complacent, so sheltered, so comfortable…and so easily unnerved when my comfort zone is shaken. Please forgive me God…Help me not to settle for the good when you want to give me the best!"

As I look at the world around me, I wonder, when is the church as a whole going to wake up and realize that we aren't on a luxury boat ride down the river anymore. We're on a titanic and it's about to sink. In fact, we can already see the signs of the ice-berg ahead…it's just a matter of time!!!!! We're going down. But we have a choice. We can sit and enjoy the music awhile longer…we can enjoy our festivities and frivolities awhile longer, we can enjoy our Facebook world, our computer world and our google world a little longer…or while we still have time, we can start focusing on striving for the best - eternal priorities…dedicated time to prayer, to Bible study, and to saving souls for the Kingdom. 

I don't know about you…but I want to be more active in launching LIFE RAFTS! It's not about just a good life anymore… it's about priorities, and about life and death!! 

One young Iranian Pastor, who stands true to his God will loose His life today for his faith, unless God performs a miracle. I don't know him, but my heart breaks. Yet I realize he has chosen the best…and either way events go, God will give him the best. If he lives, a miracle will testify to God's glory. If he dies, the next thing he will know is the face of Jesus. 

If our lives changed tomorrow…would we be ready for such a TEST????

"I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and [that] the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see." Rev 3:15-18

"Oh Father, take away the lukewarm complacency from our lives. Deliver us. Open our eyes. Help us to see our true condition. Help us to wake up to our calling as Christians…while there is still time…and while there are still souls to be rescued! Anoint our eyes that we may see!"


Melanie said...

Dear Melody~

Thank you for sharing this. It touched my heart. Tears flowed. I am part of a prayer group that prays for the world each Friday evening...and oh! It brings such revelation to my heart...again, thank you for sharing. This was convicting to me and the Lord worked through it to help my restless heart this morning.

Thank you, sister. I appreciate it so much.
Many, many blessings,

Sara said...

Thank you so much. I needed this reminder. We have it so easy here. We forget. Forget about those who don't. Last night I was burdened with my own condition of apathy...sure we care, but like you said, are we doing enough???
I was so blessed and encouraged by your post. Encouraged to do all I can, to give my best. May God help us.

Emo said...

Thank you Melody,
Very powerful thoughts, How easy I can forget the final destination and to make my plans