The Wait

by Russell Kelfer

Desperately, helplessly, longingly, I cried;
Quietly, patiently, lovingly, God replied.
I pled and I wept for a clue to my fate . . .
And the Master so gently said, “Wait.”

“Wait? you say wait?” my indignant reply.
“Lord, I need answers, I need to know why!
Is your hand shortened? Or have you not heard?
By faith I have asked, and I’m claiming your Word.

“My future and all to which I relate
Hangs in the balance, and you tell me to wait?
I’m needing a ‘yes’, a go-ahead sign,
Or even a ‘no’ to which I can resign.

“You promised, dear Lord, that if we believe,
We need but to ask, and we shall receive.
And Lord I’ve been asking, and this is my cry:
I’m weary of asking! I need a reply.”

Then quietly, softly, I learned of my fate,
As my Master replied again, “Wait.”
So I slumped in my chair, defeated and taut,
And grumbled to God, “So, I’m waiting for what?”

He seemed then to kneel, and His eyes met with mine . . .
and He tenderly said, “I could give you a sign.
I could shake the heavens and darken the sun.
I could raise the dead and cause mountains to run.

“I could give all you seek and pleased you would be.
You’d have what you want, but you wouldn’t know Me.
You’d not know the depth of my love for each saint.
You’d not know the power that I give to the faint.

“You’d not learn to see through clouds of despair;
You’d not learn to trust just by knowing I’m there.
You’d not know the joy of resting in Me
When darkness and silence are all you can see.

“You’d never experience the fullness of love
When the peace of My spirit descends like a dove.
You would know that I give, and I save, for a start,
But you’d not know the depth of the beat of My heart.

“The glow of my comfort late into the night,
The faith that I give when you walk without sight.
The depth that’s beyond getting just what you ask
From an infinite God who makes what you have last.

“You’d never know, should your pain quickly flee,
What it means that My grace is sufficient for thee.
Yes, your dearest dreams overnight would come true,
But, oh, the loss, if you missed what I’m doing in you.

“So, be silent, my child, and in time you will see
That the greatest of gifts is to truly know me.
And though oft My answers seem terribly late,
My most precious answer of all is still . . . Wait.”

Oh, how this so perfectly describes my anxious heart not wanting to be still! I’ve been praying and asking and seeking. I’ve pleaded with the Lord to show me where He’s leading.  I’ve gotten frustrated that I’m seemingly forgotten. But He hasn’t forgotten. Oh restless, impatient, forgetful heart be still! Knowing the Giver is infinitely greater than knowing the gift.

Sermon on the Mount

Austin Stone is doing a 4 week video series, “From Israel” All of the videos are shot entirely on site from Israel. It’s incredible to see the words of scripture come to life in the places they happened 2000 years ago!

Here is part one. Matt Carter reads the words of Jesus on the Sea of Galilee. Take a few minutes to watch this video. I promise it will bless you.

psst… click the four arrows-facing-out button on the bottom right of the video to make it full screen 

Sermon on the Mount from The Austin Stone on Vimeo.

Nothing?

The idea of missions has always excited me.

This idea of being GREAT for the Lord.

I hear stories about Billy Graham and the thousands and thousands of people he’s led to Christ. Mother Theresa and the millions of lives she touched. The young Katie Davis who is devoting her life to the people of Uganda and changing the lives of hundreds and hundreds. She has thousands who read her blog.

All of that is exciting! It’s exhilarating. How great the Lord has used these people. I would commit my life to that in a second. ‘Here am I; send me”!!!

But what if His calling for me is to be nothing for Him. What if my purpose in life is to serve and love and pour myself out but never to see the fruit this side of heaven? What if no one remembers my name? What if no books about me are written? No movie drafted in my honor? What then? What if God calls me to some remote place to spend all of my days loving on people and not one of them becomes a believer in my lifetime? What if he calls me to have a 9 – 5 job for the rest of my life and serve my co-workers but not harvest the fruit?

Doesn’t sound very glamorous. It’s sounds excruciatingly hard.

But what if that were my calling? It very well could be…

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” Col 3:23-24

Am I willing to be nothing for Him?

Radical

Photo by Joshua Gigliotti

Photo by Joshua Gigliotti

‎”There is never going to be a day when I stand before God and He looks at me and says, ‘I wish you would have kept more for yourself.’ I’m confident that God will take care of me.”

David Platt

 

Open our eyes

“I try to avoid seeing pictures of those starving people. It’s too depressing. I would rather see the pictures of safari animals.”

A good friend of mine recently took a trip to Kenya and Uganda. Yesterday at work, I sat on my computer sifting through pictures of her recent trip. My heart aching at the sight of these orphans – hungry for food and love. Wishing with everything in me I knew how to teleport so I could hold them for a while. Love on this one and that one. Put hope in his beautiful chocolate eyes. Tickle them relentlessly just to hear joy in their laughter. Shower her with kisses and tell her of One who will never leave nor forsake – no matter who in her past has done just that.

At one point a co-worker passed by my desk and made the off the cuff statement at the top of this post. I’m sure she didn’t mean anything by it – she is a sweet and good-natured person. But it took everything in me to not explode at that moment. I was fuming inside. ‘What do you mean you try to avoid them?  What if that was your son – your mother – your sister???  What if that was you?!?’

Why do we close our eyes from the difficult? Why do we choose not to see? Is it easier to look the other way? Less uncomfortable? Does it seem too overwhelming?

Yes.

Does choosing to open our eyes cause us pain? Does it stretch us? Require us to spend ourselves for someone else?

Yes.

Is it too much to handle? Is there too much hurt? Is it impossible to make a difference?

Absolutely not.

I think we have this whole thing backwards. Maybe we are afraid to pour ourselves out because in doing so we believe we won’t have enough for us. But what if the very act of taking on someone else’s burden and giving away is the exact thing that fills our cup to overflowing? That brings us joy? What if giving away is the key to contentment?

“If you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.
The LORD will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.
Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.”  -Isaiah 58:10-12

Friends. Let us open our eyes. Let us choose to see.

 The most severe drought in decades is threatening the lives of more than 11 million people — especially young children — in the Horn of Africa. Famine has been declared in parts of southern Somalia, and threatens to spread further if nothing is done to prevent it. Kenya and Ethiopia are also severely affected by the crisis, with millions in critical need of food and water. World Vision has launched an emergency response to the drought and food crisis, working to provide life-saving essentials to the most vulnerable children and families . . .Thanks to government grants, your gift today can multiply up to 5 times in impact to help provide emergency food, clean water, agricultural support, healthcare, and other vital assistance to children and families in need.

Cha-Ching

Spoiler alert: This post might be offensive. Seems like talking about money almost always is. I would apologize but in all honesty, I’m not really that sorry. Just know I’m also preaching to myself  as I write this. I am, however, sorry for the length of this post …

I guess it all started with my trip to Iraq. Seeing how much I live with and how little I truly need. Seeing how little people live with in another country – even those who are not considered poor. Living out of one (under 50 lb) suitcase for six months makes you realize all those things you can do without (and there is A. L.O.T. I can do without).

I came home after Iraq infuriated with the waste in the American culture – especially the Christians in our American culture. Thoughts like “Really?!? You are going to pay someone to park your car?!? Do you realize a family of 10 in a third world country could eat off of that for a week!?!” or “Seriously? You are really trying to convince me that you deserve those $200 boots??? That would almost pay for the airfare of a child in Iraq to get life-saving heart surgery in Turkey!!!” and “What the crap? Our church in no way needs a new 2 million dollar building!!! And they are asking me to pray for it?”

I wish I could say that my anger was righteous. I’m not sure that it was. The way my heart was changed to view money and to be a good steward that there of was a good thing, but the way I let it make me critical (hateful even) toward others was not.

It’s funny how easy it is to drift back into old ways. How easy it is to blend back into one’s culture. It’s one thing to be ignorant of life outside the US and not to have seen what real poverty looks like. It’s one thing to not know how filthy rich our country is because of never experiencing anything else. It’s an entirely different story to have experienced it, lived it, breathed it and chosen to forget. I am ashamed to say I am the latter.

It snuck up on me. Surprised me. My critical spirit toward how Christians spend their money did not change and yet I began to convince myself of things I needed. I was blinded. “Gap’s having a sale! I have to buy clothes at these prices!” “I am way to exhausted to cook this week. I deserve to eat out.” “Everyone has a new Iphone!!! It would make life SO much easier. MUST get one! I can’t survive without it” “Only 80 channels?!? They call this cable!?! What are we going to do without such and such channel???” and on and on and on…

The past few weeks God has taken the blinders off. To say I’ve been humbled would be the understatement OF THE YEAR. Thank you, Jesus. Sometimes I need a good smack on the head – metaphorically speaking.

In Bible study a few weeks ago: We were asked to choose something to pray for in our culture. My prayer was that Christians in America would be able to focus on the needs in the world instead of being so inwardly focused. (At this point I am still critical of others and am clueless to my own selfishness. Sometimes I think I’m so holy that it’s nauseating. Forgive my evil heart, Lord.)

That same Sunday at church: The sermon was on missions. The pastor spoke on how selfish we are as Christians – so content in our American bubble. Blatantly oblivious to the suffering in the world. We skip over the parts of the Bible where God commands us to look after widows and orphans and feed the poor. We nod our head in agreement when Jesus tells us to go out into all the nations thinking that doesn’t specifically mean that I have to go. It should not be radical for someone to devote their life to being a missionary… we should ALL be missionaries wherever our address. It should be radical to be a Christian and NOT be one. (At this point I should have heard my wake up call. Instead I think, “Yes, Lord! This sermon is an answer to my prayer from Bible study! You and I, God, we are going to fix this thing!” Ha! Little did I know that I’M the one He’s talking to.)

The next week is when things start to change…

We get rid of the cable. Good start. I stumble across PLC’s website and think, “Why have I not been supporting this organization that I’ve loved and rallied for these past 3 years?!?” Then, I’m at work and stumble across the World Vision site and a sweet little girl from Uganda stares back at me: I am the orphan – care for me. I am the poor – feed me. I am the least of these – love me. 

I was driving to work the other day and decided to listen to a random sermon. It shouldn’t surprise you that I picked one (at random mind you) entitle ‘Money: a gift or a god?’ About how God gives to us so that we can give away. How we need to be better stewards to what he entrusts us with because that just it… it’s not ours!

And here is the kicker… yesterday I was reading one of my very favorite blogs and this is what I read…

“It is easy to look to God and ask, ‘Why is there so much poverty in the world? Why is there so much hurt, so much inequality and unfairness, so much destitution?’ I bet He would ask us the same thing.”

And He says to me…

Ashley, why is there so much poverty? Why is there so much hurt? Why are there so many orphans unloved and so many poor not cared for? My sweet daughter I’ve entrusted you with SO much. What are you doing with it?

My life needs to radically change.

Does yours?

“We Will Not Stop”

This video is of Estrella Rosenberg, the founder of Big Love Little Hearts  – an organization founded to bridge the gap in the congenital heart defect community – the overwhelming number of children in developing countries who needed heart surgery to live and weren’t able to find it.

It’s people like this who make real change. Those with the perfect mixture of passion and unrelenting, unstoppable hard work. Those who refuse to quit.

Nothing But Good News

God is the giver of good gifts.
If nothing else, I’ve learned this today.

Mohammad is in his own private room in the hospital and boards a plane tomorrow to come back home!
Mohammad Coloring

Beautiful baby Honya had surgery this morning.

Honya 1

Mom Kissing Honya

At just 12 pounds, she went into surgery this morning at 10:30.
Her mother watched as she was carried away, doing her best to be strong.

I’ve tried to place myself in the shoes of these moms.
These moms who are hoping for a miracle for their children, their children who are under a death sentence.
These mothers are in a foreign land.
Surrounded by a foreign language and culture.
Sleeping in a room by themselves, many for the first time in their lives.
Putting the care of their dying children into the hands of Turkish doctors and nurses.
The people who they’ve been told are the enemy.

I can’t imagine the uncertainty and fear they must feel.
The enormous amount of helplessness.

My prayer is that during this time, this time of fear, that God would reveal himself to them. And that they would have no choice but to cling to Him.

Honya’s surgery went beautifully.
No complications.
She is resting now in ICU.
Dr. Cicek is hopeful to extubate her tonight or tomorrow.

Praise God!

Honya ICU

Honya & Wires

Vary also had surgery today.
Hers was the scariest surgery of all.

Vary

Upon finding more problems with her heart, the surgery become far more complicated.

The doctors had to cool her body down to 16 degrees Celsius,
drain the blood from her body,
resect a portion of the artery dangerously close to a nerve that could leave Vary with neurological damage,
pump the blood back into her tiny body,
warm her back up
and restart her heart.

The surgery went perfectly.
Not only that. . .
but it was a full correction.
She will not have to have another heart surgery!

Friends
Thank you for your prayers.
Thank you beyond words.

But please don’t stop praying for these children.
Though the surgery is over
Though Dr. Cicek has fixed their hearts.
Now it’s their turn.
They have to fight for life.

-In awe of the graciousness of God

Find out more @ http://preemptivelove.org/blog/

Mohammad. Honya. Vary.

At last you get to meet them.
The three amazing kids in Turkey for life-saving heart surgery.
Each group we send I love even more.

Mohammad, 8 years old
Mohammad
Mohammed is the oldest of three children. He lives with his family in a small village where they live on the top floor of their barn. He has been waiting a long time for a chance to have his heart repaired. He is looking forward to walking all the way to school after he has recovered from surgery. His mom thanks us tearfully every time we see her. She cannot believe it is finally Mohammad’s turn!
Please be praying for Mohammad.
He will be having surgery first thing in the morning which is only about 7 or 8 hours away!

Honya, 9 months old
Honya
Honya is a precious little girl. She is always smiling and giggling despite the lack of oxygen flowing in her blood to her brain and the rest of her body. At nine months old she weighs roughly 12 pounds. She loves music and toys that light up. Dr. Çiçek at the Johns Hopkins affiliated Anadolu Medical Center in Istanbul, Turkey is very hopeful that she will have a full correction and believes that she is likely to benefit significantly from surgical intervention.
I have fallen in love with this tiny little girl! She came to the office the other day in this pink and green outfit and was all smiles and giggles. She is so precious.
She arrived safely to Turkey, but she is sick with some kind of cough and can’t be operated on until she is better. The earliest she could possibly have surgery is Monday.
Pray for healing for her little body so that she might have a chance at surgery and a chance at life.

Vary, 2 years old
Vary
Vary is a spunky little two year old who loves stuffed animals. You wouldn’t know it by looking at her that her heart is failing, but she is actually an urgent case. We are hopeful that her surgery will set her back on track for a happy, healthy life running and playing with her friends. Her mom says she can go anywhere as long as “blankie” can go too!
I played with Vary in the office on Monday. She is so full of life and she definitely has some spunk!
We played with bubbles mostly. She would blow the bubbles and we would chase after them with our fingers and say “pop”!
The most fun I’ve ever had with bubbles by far!
Vary is still undergoing tests to find out when and if she can have surgery. She is very scared and unsure of her surrounding in this foreign place. Pray for peace for her heart.

More updates to come
For now, it’s almost 2 AM
I’m off to bed.

So grateful to be a part of something so much bigger than me.

13 Things . . .

. . . that have happened since I last updated
Which, lets face it, has been awhile:

Today I got stuck in an elevator.
It was a surprisingly enjoyable experience.

PLC bought a new car.
I miss the Patrol (aka The Beast)
But thanking God for providing.

I rode the Sulaymaniyah bus.
Payment for the ride is driven by the honor system.
I’m convinced it would never work in America.

My friend, Sazgar, helped me pick out Gili Kurdi (traditional/festive Kurdish dress)
Don’t worry, pictures to come.

I experienced culture shock for the first time at a foreigner’s party.
50 people attended (Dutch, British, Irish, Australian . . . but mostly American)
I realized Americans are loud and a tad bit obnoxious.

I visited Sulaymaniyah University with Kanar and Shaza, two good friends.
I almost felt as though I was at an American university.

I learned to sing Happy Birthday in Kurdish.

Angel and I made oreo balls.
SO good.

I sat on the top floor of our house for hours watching a thunderstorm with the window open.
I’ve missed the rain.

I bought a piece of artwork from my good friend and talented artist, Ismail.

I’ve read 5 books:
Unshaken by Francine Rivers
Unveiled by Francine Rivers
The Shack by William P. Young
A Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis
Crazy Love by Francis Chan

God has been teaching me a lot about faith and prayer
and even more about my pride.

AND 3 new kids are going to surgery in Turkey on Tuesday!!
I’ll introduce them in the next few days