Friday, June 27, 2014

Confessions from safari

This week we have had the privilege of going on safari with my parents. It is an awesome opportunity that many people never get, but since we live in Uganda it is possible. Many Americans have summer beach trips or go to the lake or other summer vacations, but our family has taken a summer safari trip! I never imagined that I would have the privilege of seeing lions, zebras, gazelles, hippos, crocodiles, Cape buffalo, African fish eagles, monitor lizards, antelopes and about 50 elephants in their natural habitat while riding on the roof rack of our van, not to mention walking through a forest seeing 4 different types of monkeys! Wow!

While we have had this amazing opportunity for a family vacation with grandparents, I have found myself lacking in thankfulness at times. I have really enjoyed much of our trip, but I also have been discontent and anxious at times. It is so easy for me to forget all these amazing blessings and focus on the frustrations of rough roads, children being too loud, not enough sleep, not seeing all the animals on a particular game drive, not great food, feeling too hot or too cold, ongoing tongue pain, bad traffic, etc. I am sad that my heart is so quick to become discontent. I have often written posts about thankfulness, primarily because I struggle with contentment. 

I have often prayed about and contemplated the root and the cure for my anxious and easily discontented heart. Being reminded that I am supposed to trust God and be thankful usually just makes me feel guilty that I am not able to think and feel how I should. As I took some time to reflect on this struggle, I was reminded that the gospel is not only how I am granted forgiveness, a relationship with God and eternal life, but it is also the source for my daily life. Obviously, I have not mastered this since I so frequently struggle, but I will share with you some of my thoughts, for what it's worth. 

I believe much of my fear and anxiety are rooted in my lack of faith that God loves me and is working for my good. But when I remember that God loves me so much that he was willing for his own Son to die in order to redeem me, I realize that he loves me ridiculously. I remember and try to meditate on Romans 8:32, "He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?" And Romans 8:15 says, "For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, "Abba! Father!"

Recently I have seen some beautiful pictures of the love of adoptive fathers. Two fathers have been here at Good Shepherd's Fold waiting on the time when they can take their children home to be with the rest of their families. Our friend Ryan is still here in Uganda, and it is so encouraging to see the way he loves his daughter. Until he came and spent so much time holding her and talking to her, she was a very timid girl. But when she is with her daddy she lights up and has the courage to try so many new things. The security of her loving adoptive father has changed everything. What if I was so secure in and comforted by the love of my Heavenly Father who has adopted me that I no longer lived in fear and anxiety? I am praying that when fears and anxieties arise, I will quickly remember my Father and rest in His loving care for me. 

I believe my struggle with discontentment is also addressed in similar ways by the gospel. I am often looking to things in this life to make me happy. But nothing temporary satisfies, and nothing in this fallen world is perfect. Vacations have challenges. Relationships have struggles. We all are selfish and broken. It should be of no surprise that when I am focusing on circumstances in this life, I am discontent. My focus is on the wrong thing. Instead I want to focus on what God has done for me and what he is doing in and through me. He is using each of these struggles as an opportunity to teach me to cling to him alone. As I encounter frustrations in this life, I am comforted by my Savior who reminds me "that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us." (Romans 8:18) The gracious love of God for his people gives us a hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11) And since I have been justified by faith, I have peace with God through Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:1) "Not only that, be we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly." (Romans 5:3-6)

All of these truths are wonderful and can bring great joy! I think my struggles with discontentment and anxiety arise as I fail to remember and be comforted by these truths. It is my prayer that as God continues to work endurance, character and hope in me, I will learn more to rest and rejoice in Him. I also hope that these verses encourage you to be comforted by the love of God for you in Christ Jesus. 

No comments:

Post a Comment