For the first time in my life, I am spending almost two weeks immersed in another culture. The experience has been priceless, unforgettable and not without its moments of stretching. Involving a steady schedule of speaking and travel, the trip has taught me so many new things and reaffirmed a lot of things the Lord has been faithfully and gently putting before me for a very long time.
To me, this truth of this trip has been that He goes with us in all circumstances and He is God.
As Scott (my husband) and I have traveled to three different states in Brazil and have yet to travel to one more, we have enjoyed the time together and have been blessed by the relationships God has given us with others on this trip. We have been reminded again how big the kingdom of God is in the fellowship with other believers and how much work there is to do in reaching a very hurting world.
Of little surprise to those who know me, I have come to realize what a verbal person I am. While I have picked up a few necessary words and phrases in Portuguese, I am usually at a loss when trying to communicate with someone beyond “hello,” “thank you,” or “God bless you.” I am way beyond my comfort zone. I have been incredibly blessed with a gifted group of translators and we are rarely without someone who can help us to negotiate the ins and outs of a Portuguese/English conversation. But I think the hardest part for me is being dependent on someone else to communicate what I am trying to say. As a teacher, a writer and a talkative person in general, I’ve felt fairly adequate in my abilities to express myself (my husband and my family will all smile at this statement, I’m sure!).
Far more than my needing someone else to communicate for me, I am reminded again that God must be the One who goes before me—that I cannot rest in my own abilities to help someone understand my heart. My role is to be faithful to what He has told me to say and entrust the rest to Him. Not an easy thing for me.
Take last night as a case in point. Scott and I had the opportunity to be at the 8th Presbyterian (yes, the 8th) Church in Belo Horizonte. I shared a message the Lord had given me to share the prior Sunday morning at a church in Brasilia but I felt led to emphasize a different portion of the scripture and a different part of the message. After I opened in prayer, the translator read the portion of scripture I was working off of for the message. Prior to that point in the service, I had felt a sense of readiness in sharing what I felt I was supposed to share. As I was sharing, however, I felt as if I was struggling to communicate what it was I wanted to say. My thoughts felt all over the place—and in truth, they were. The message wasn’t as well-organized or communicated as it could have been.
I’d love to be able to say that I took it in stride, let go of the frustration and felt at peace. But I can’t.
I analyzed and reanalyzed. Then I went to sleep. When I woke up, I remembered every unfinished thought, every weak point, every unclear example. I could leave the United States behind to travel to Brazil, but I had brought my self-centeredness with me. As I have spent time talking to the Lord this morning, He reminded me that He holds me, that He is God and that is enough. He can finish whatever my words left unfinished. He can clarify whatever I may have left muddy.
I trust Him to be my Translator.
God has already done above and beyond what I could have asked for this trip. I came with great expectations for Him to move, and He has done so. Last night was a reminder that my expectations must remain on Him and not on myself.
Last night as I was wrestling with my emotions—missing our children, feeling tired, over-dramatizing my inadequacies and just wanting to give-up—Scott told me he was proud of me. Not because I’ve done it all right, and not because my husband thinks this trip is about my abilities. But because we both understand this trip is about God and as someone told me recently, “Being a child of God isn’t about perfection; it’s about hunger.” And I’m hungry for God to accomplish what He wants to do in and through me—so, giving up is not an option. There’s still much to do.
We are thankful to know that He who begins a good work in us is the same One who is faithful to complete that work—this is my prayer not only for the women God has blessed me to know on this trip, but for those God has put in my life back home and in my own life as well.
Que Deus seja glorificado sempre. (May God be glorified always.)