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“In you the orphan finds mercy” (Hosea 14:3b)

Velvet Ashes offered a free online retreat for women serving overseas last weekend.  I am so grateful that God was calling me to retreat with Him, even in the midst of all we still need to do as we prepare for our home assignment, for it was such a gift as God spoke to me in many ways.

One of the most powerful things God reminded me was from Hosea… “In you the orphan finds mercy”.

After four years of ministry in Oaxaca, it is hard to pack up your stuff, say goodbye for now and bring some sort of closure to relationships and ministry as we leave for the U.S. for one year.  One of the many worries and questions for God that I’ve been carrying around with me is:  What will happen, Lord, to all the people whom I have grown to love here and with whom I have had the privilege of walking in their journey with you?  Like the young woman I have been discipling for over a year now who grows deeper in her desire for You and Your Word each week?  Or, the women who meet in my home every other week and with such hunger enter in to our Bible reflection times and allow for your transforming Word to speak to them?  Or, the women who seek out a listening ear as they process past pain in their lives?  Or, the MAEM (Ministering to the Abused and Exploited in Mexico) team I am a part of where we are currently training a group of church leaders for this ministry ?  Or, the couple that I have been counselling and is coming to a key decision making time in their relationship?  Or, the four teenage girls from our church with whom I’ve meeting intending to train them to lead the children’s messages during the service, only to find that what they really needed was a safe space to talk about their struggles at home and school?  Who will fill the spaces and the relationships we are leaving behind?  Even though the word orphan feels a bit strong to describe this situation, I have to admit that it feels to me like we may be leaving some people as orphans for this next year.

On Maundy Thursday God's Spirit was a work in us all as I facilitated the women's group in a foot washing ceremony, the first for most of them
On Maundy Thursday God’s Spirit was a work in us all as I facilitated the women’s group in a foot washing ceremony, the first for most of them.

It’s so easy to think that we are necessary and indispensable to other people’s growth or to God’s work in general.  The first part of that same verse says, “Assyria shall not save us…we will say no more, ‘Our God’, to the work of our hands.”  What I realize is that sometimes I think I am Assyria, that I can save others or even myself.  Other times the work of my hands, or the ministry, can easily become my god, my complete measure of success, my sense of worth and identity, my fulfilment.  Of course I know in my head that God is the ONLY one who heals, restores, transforms, guides, fulfils and ultimately saves.  It is our privilege to be a part of His saving, healing, and transforming work.  So, maybe it is good that we must take a year away from ministry in Mexico in order to be reminded that the work is ultimately God’s.  I am sure you all know what a joy it is to be a part of God’s redeeming work in the world!  But even that does not compare to the joy of knowing Jesus and His mercy. So, I am learning to entrust all those whom I love dearly to Jesus, that they may know Jesus deeper this year, whether I am close to them or not.  

This phrase, ”in you the orphan finds mercy”, reminds me that I, too, am an orphan in need of God’s mercy.  In just over one month, I will not have a home.  We are packing up and leaving the place that has been our home for the last four years, and we will arrive at my parent’s house to look for a place to rent that fits within our budget (which has been difficult to find, BTW, and for which we ask your prayers).  Not knowing what our home will be like for the next year has produced some anxiety.  Not knowing where the furniture will come from for this “home” has also produced some stress.  Not being able to provide more stability for our kids has caused us some pain.  So I realize that as a family we are orphans, and so are all of us who follow a God, who in Jesus, also had no home, for our only true home is with our Creator.  And, He has promised to be with us wherever we lay our head.  

This heart realization that God provided during my retreat time gives me strength and hope to face the many unknowns for this next year.  Who will care for the orphans in Mexico, the U.S. and around the world?  God will.  He will use you and me and my friends in Mexico to do that.  He will also provide us with a home (in all senses of the word) and draw us ever closer to Him as we experience His mercy daily.

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