Monday, October 10, 2011

Sun Stand Still

It was a promise in past tense from the beginning.

Early in 2011, of the three organizations we had considered serving in Ghana, the first seemed only interested in what service projects we could commit to, and our offering seemed only to inconvenience them. We felt no peace and as such, could not make this commitment to them.

The second was ready to welcome us as we were, knowing our hands were empty, but our hearts were His, ready to offer of ourselves. We appreciated that they would accept whatever we were able to offer in terms of support, but we felt no peace.

Then, on a Saturday afternoon back in March, I called George Achibra Sr. at PACODEP, and there it was... overwhelming peace.

It was clear that Mr. Achibra was warm and welcoming, and that he would appreciate anything the Lord could offer through us, even if it was simply our time. Without pressure, it would have been all too easy to commit to coming empty handed, simply to serve with our time, but our hearts had already been poured out and broken for these children -- we were already committed to doing whatever it took. We knew. We knew this was what we were meant to do.

Partway through the conversation, I heard myself asking him what his team's biggest needs were, and that’s when I first heard that they were at max capacity for classroom space. I asked how much it would cost to fulfill that need, and he said $30,000.

I clearly remember saying “Then, that is what we will do."

When I hung up the phone, it wasn’t lost on me that the thought of raising $800 for another organization that I didn’t feel peace about felt like something I couldn’t commit to, but that I had just committed to raising the equivalent of the mortgage on our family’s first home without any hesitation... and with little to offer of my own except for faith and obedience.

It felt like the most natural thing in the world.

Tia recalls that before our very first donation, I felt as though we had reached 100% already. It was as though God's promise was in past tense, that this "had already come to pass, Amen", as Ato Sam would express it. It was, and is, the only way I could see it. A promise fulfilled.

Still, there was excitement as He provided our first percent, then, our second. I was all too aware that to the world, it seemed like nothing, a glass mostly empty. I saw the glass through Him, and saw only that it had the potential to overflow. Does He only give us a little bit of love, a little bit of grace, a little bit of mercy, a little bit of forgiveness? His gifts are abundant, overflowing, beyond measure. Why should this be any different if God is steadfast in all ways?

Don’t get me wrong, $30,000 is the same size mountain to me as it is to you. The only way I could look at that mountain and not pee my pants was by putting Him firmly between myself and that mountain, and seeing the mountain through Him. I’m happy to report that for once, my pants stayed dry, thankyouverymuch -- He had done so much more than this time and time again, this was a small mountain to Him who created the universe and to Whom all belonged.

All I needed to know was that God was bigger. It was really that simple.

Over time, the percentage raised seemed to creep up slowly, even though the days left until our trip were passing by at what seemed to be a much quicker pace. Still, with each percent, I felt as though He was jumping up and down on my bed, giggling like a little child with irresistible enthusiasm. Although I knew that not everyone saw Him jumping up and down on their beds and that many only saw time running out, all I needed to know that God created time, and He was in control of it. It was really that simple.

He had already provided 12% when the journalist interviewed me for a local paper, and although the article excluded all reference to God and faith, when she asked if I thought we could do this, with only 52 days left, I shared the story of Nehemiah rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem in 52 days, stone by stone, day by day, God having provided the material, the people, the vision. It should have seemed impossible to Nehemiah and his team, but all they needed to know was that God had chosen them to build these walls and protect Jerusalem -- they simply had to focus on doing the part God had set in front of them -- God would provide.

It all comes down to focus and faith. It’s really that simple.

Within a week, the total raised had reached 46%**. A few more who had doubted from the beginning began to wonder if this was possible after all.

I honestly don’t know what was more important to me – seeing the school built, or seeing people’s faith built. It seemed as though these were both such important parts of this journey. What I loved about this project from the beginning was that if we had miserably failed, we would have looked like fools, but if we reached our goal, the only explanation for it would have been God and God alone.

At the risk of sounding ridiculous, I feel like part of Nehemiah’s team, sitting in front of a dusty war torn wall, repairing a small portion of it stone by stone, day by day, only focused on what I've been given to do, no matter how small it seems or how insignificant it may feel, and all of a sudden, I look up, and I see walls where there were none, walls rising up all around me, with teams of people gathered by Him to put in their stones one by one. Each their part in this. These are their walls too, their Jerusalem.

Although these walls aren't protecting the city of Jerusalem, they are no less important to Him, as they are protecting the lives of His children, the least of these who have become the most of these to us.

As excited as I am, there is no sense of surprise. He promised, in past tense. It's that simple.

As I reflected upon the 46% He provided, nearing the halfway mark with less than 40 days to go at the time, I knew God wasn’t done yet. He had never asked us if we could do this, He only asked us if we trusted that He could, and would. The answer was “Yes” – no hesitation, no doubt. I kept telling everyone who would listen “Wait and see what He will do, part of the blessing is in seeing how He chooses to fulfill His promise! Every portion of this journey is like unwrapping a mysterious gift! He's not done yet...”

On Sept 29th, an organization that we had been trying to contact since April without success responded to a simple request from Debra asking for assistance on the logistics of shipping a box or two of books to Ghana for the Village Of Life. It was then that we learned that they hadn't received any of our previous communications, and hadn't been aware of our project. When they realized what we were working on, they not only offered to help with the travel logistics and planning, they shared that all funds raised by the 17th of October would be provided with a matching grant.

In essence, being at 46%, this means that we simply have another 4% of funds to raise in order for the school to be built. Our 50% will be stretched to completion through this amazing blessing.

$1200 left.

The material for the blocks is being poured into moulds as we speak, Joshua's ticket has been booked, the packing and accommodation planning is under way, fundraising is taking place for travel expenses, the Compassion visit logistics are ironed out, the visitor visa applications are under way, thank you notes are being written and mailed, our hearts continue to be prepared and broken... and He is in this, in all of this. This is His.

I can’t help but reflect on some of the biggest lessons I’ve learned from all of this. What stands out the most for me is the deeper understanding of why I’m just as excited now as I was when we began, and when we reached one percent, then two percent, and so on. The fact that the numbers changed didn’t make it any more or any less possible – in fact, the numbers changed because God hadn’t changed – He is the same God Joshua trusted in with a perspective of faith when he returned from spying into the Promised Land, and then later, when he asked God for the sun to stand still so that he could finish the battle.

The same God we trusted to provide this school.

The same God who promised it in past tense.

The same God who provided through your prayers, your enthusiasm, your faith, your financial support.

Why do we dare limit the possible with our unbelief?

Why do we try to reduce God until He fits into our limited perspective?

Why do we accept any less than sun stand still faith, when all we need to know is that the God who made the sun stand still for Joshua is the same God we serve today?

It's really that simple.

**(note: the Paypal button only reflects the Paypal total, it does not include funds raised in person or through Interlink)