Our Father is Good

This morning's blog is the second in a series of three from our summer intern, Anna Wilke: 

In considering expectation, I think a common question is what do we do when we feel our prayers go unanswered? What happens when we feel we are waiting endlessly or in suffering and no one is listening? In these heartbreaking and difficult circumstances it is even more important to have faith in God’s character and the promises He has made.

First we must embrace that in His faithfulness God always hears and ultimately answers our prayers.  We are assured of this in 1 John 5:14. At times it is easy to miss an answered prayer because we find His answer disorienting. Circumstances can change, health can deteriorate, financial difficulties can arise, difficult relationships can develop. In situations like these we feel overcome with pain and confusion, but what could be happening is God is answering our prayers, we just expected the answer to look and feel differently.

There are many things we will never know on this side of Heaven because our understanding is sorely limited.  God’s knowledge is complete and in His infinite wisdom, He knows what is best for us. God answers our prayers with eternity in mind and we have to remember that He has a good plan and a purpose for everything in our lives.

Most importantly, we must have faith in the goodness of God and in His love for us. Our Father is good. He answers prayer from His eternal perspective with what He knows we need.  These answers may not always “line up” with expectations born of our limited perspective. Our Father loves us immeasurably and knows what is best for us. Our Father is good. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose”. We have been assured that God is working for our good in all circumstances even if we don’t understand them. We must remember to keep our faith in the character and promises of our God beyond what we can see and feel. Our Father is good.

Expectation

This blog comes to us from our Summer Intern, Anna Wilke.

Recently, I have been thinking a lot about being completely confident in and expectant of God.  Our God is all powerful and surpasses our understanding and I think we forget that all too often. We lower our expectations of God to a level we can understand and when we do we leave very little room for Him to move in the miraculous. As the body of Christ we are called to know who our God is, to know that He is capable of more than we could ever ask or imagine, to trust that He has our best interest at heart, and to expect Him to move in our lives. 

As I think about expectation, I am reminded of the women in Mark 5 who touched Jesus’ robe and was healed. This woman had been bleeding for 12 years and the Bible says that she had been treated by doctors for years but her condition had only gotten worse, so when she heard about Jesus she knew if she touched Him she would be healed. When Jesus walked by her in a large crowd she pushed through the crowd, reached out and touched His robe and was immediately healed. When Jesus saw her He said, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace and be healed of your affliction.” She was freed from her suffering immediately and it was her expectation, her faith, and her pursuit of God with desperation that lead her there. This woman knew that Jesus was her only option and she expected Him to move in her life.  

Just like in this story, there were always large crowds around Jesus, but that didn’t mean anything. Those same crowds came and went, the same crowds just went home and later shouted “crucify Him,” because just being around Jesus didn’t change them.  You can be around Jesus and not receive anything, but it has nothing to do with Jesus because He is the Son of God in flesh, it has to do with our expectation. There were always people who stayed back and reached out to Jesus in faith and expectation, and those were the people who received something from Him. They were the ones who truly knew who Jesus was and were expectant of Him and they were the ones who were blessed. So instead of just being around Jesus, let’s be the people who reach out to Jesus is desperation and humility. Let’s pray big prayers and believe He will move in our lives because He is ready and willing to bless us. Let’s be expectant of our God.  

MEET JUDY

In May of last year, Judy was a successful business woman in a slum area outside of Nairobi. She made a living selling produce at the local market and led a good life with her family. One day when Judy was on her way to work, she was struck by a moving vehicle that veered off the road. She was severely hurt and was taken to the local hospital.

While being treated for her injury, Judy learned that she was HIV+. She explained that this left her feeling confused, scared for her life, and scared for her family. Knowing this could ultimately orphan her children, she finally found the courage to tell her husband. Her husband in turn left her insisting she had been unfaithful. To add to the tragedy, she did not have health insurance and learned she had broken her upper and lower leg and would need a full leg cast. The cost of this treatment emptied the money she had saved for her children’s schooling and for the family’s rent money.

Judy had no option but to send her children to live with family and move to a different slum area to recover. In an instant, Judy was left without a husband, without her children, without her home, without her savings, and with a disease she was confident would take her life and orphan her children. Around this time, she heard her neighbors talking about the church close to them. She overheard a little about the CARE for AIDS program and decided to give it a try. She explained that she had come to terms with dying and felt like she had no other option. 

When my husband and I met Judy in September, she was halfway through the 9 month empowerment program and was full of hope and determination. She told us something I remember as profound, that she was thankful for her status. Judy shared that If it hadn’t been for her HIV+ status, she never would have met Jesus or learned what it meant to live with the peace and grace of God. Judy was excited to heal, resume working, bring her children home, and begin ministering to others like her in her community. She said she was determined to use her status and her situation to glorify the Lord. 

It was an absolute joy to visit Judy in her home.

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WAKE

I grew up on the water. Many of my favorite childhood memories include long days full of sunshine, lake water, and water skiing. As may boaters know, if the water gets rough, it is a good idea to get in the wake of another watercraft. Doing this will calm your ride and clear the route allowing you to be less affected by other boats causing choppy waters due to running alternate routes. 

Recently, I heard a talk by Dr. Henry Cloud that stuck with me due to my past on the water. He discussed how the wake that a boat leaves behind is very telling of how the boat is doing. If the wake is curvy you know it lacks direction and focus, if it is shallow you know the boat is burning fuel, and if it is too steep the drag needs to be adjusted. He paralleled this to the wake that we leave as individuals. In this life, we will leave a wake in our work, our relationships, and our communities. We may be good in one or another but getting solid wakes in all three can be challenging, yet necessary.

When I think about wake, it brings clarity to what has been done and what needs to happen. Although I assess these things on my own frequently, I have learned that you can not be your own sole critic. It is so important to be open to hearing other's feelings on your results and relationships. In order to be focused on leaving an impactful wake, it is important to ask those around us what kind of wake we are currently leaving. Do I make people better? Do I make situations better? Do I resemble Christ in my interactions with others? Although intimidating, it is crucial to hear honest feedback in order to know what to adjust and what to enhance to ultimately leave a positive wake. Also, just like on the water, it is important to find a leader with a balanced wake to get behind. This will help calm life's choppy waters and will provide a space for you to remain focused on throwing a wake that will be a blessing to others.

Dr. Cloud states clearly: "The wake is the result we leave behind. And the wake doesn't lie and it doesn't care about excuses. It is what it is. No matter what we try to do to explain why, or to justify what the wake is, it still remains. It is what we leave behind and it is our record."

The idea of our wake is haunting and exciting. It clearly depicts what our character and actions leave behind and forces us to focus on what we believe, do, and say. There is a stream of consistency needed in order to leave a good path behind. Just like you can tell a lot about a boat just by looking at it's wake, you can also tell a lot about a person by the wake they leave behind. It is my prayer that we all begin to consider what paths we are cultivating and recognize that the wakes we leave behind will impact the world for the Kingdom.

 

Meet Anna

This morning's post comes to us from the newest member of the CARE for AIDS team, Summer Intern Anna Wilke!

I grew up about 20 miles south of Atlanta in Fayetteville, Georgia with my parents and one younger brother. My family and I were very involved in activities at our school and in our local church. I am currently a junior at Auburn University with a major in Nutrition Dietetics and a minor in Nonprofit and Philanthropic Studies. At Auburn I am very involved in my church, my sorority, and recruiting for the football team. In my free time I love drinking coffee, reading, traveling, being outside, and spending time with my family and friends.

            In high school I had the opportunity to travel to Kenya twice and spend time talking and sharing with Kenyan students. It was on these trips that I got a glimpse of what CARE for AIDS is doing in live and communities there. I was able to visit some of the centers in Nairobi and go on a few home visits with the Kenyan staff. While visiting these centers I really fell in love with CARE for AIDS and their mission to love and care for families affected by HIV/AIDS.

            On my very first home visit I met Mary, who really brought the mission of CARE for AIDS to life for me when she invited us into her small, one-room home and told us her story. Mary had a husband and four children all of whom abandoned her when she learned her HIV+ status. While in the CARE for AIDS program Mary was working toward her financial independence and had begun to have a relationship with her four children again. Mary did not speak English so she used a translator to tell us her story. Before we said goodbye to Mary the leader of our group asked if we could pray over her, and while I don’t remember exactly what we said I remember Mary starting to cry during the prayer, and what she said afterward has stuck with me ever since. She said that even though she didn’t understand what we were saying she could feel how much God loved her and the redeeming work He was doing in her life. In meeting Mary, I caught just a glimpse of the love, respect, and support that CARE for AIDS shows their clients and it got me so excited for the work they are doing!

            I love the holistic approach that CARE for AIDS uses to love individuals and families and I am looking forward to being apart of it this summer! I am so excited to see how God uses my time working alongside and learning from the CARE for AIDS team this summer!!