It is hard to put the month of July into words. So many unexpected and unique experiences awaited each new week for this girl. God was selfish for my time and he made me fully aware of this during Beat the Drum(BtD). I fell ill to a bacterial infection that stayed with me longer than I’d like to admit. Even though I was unable to participate in beat the drum program, God was teaching me multiple lessons on; grace, how incredibly complex His plan is for everyone, and how dearly He cares about me. After Beat the Drum, we went to Butha Buthe, Lesotho for outreach and it was a phenomenal time. Praise God that I was healthy enough to participate on this journey. God is a beautiful friend with so much care and concern for each of His children and I’m in love!
When I became ill with the infection, I was in horrible pain, spent more time sleeping than awake, and was on a very strict diet. All of this frustrated me. I was angry and trying to get back into the swing of things as fast as I could so that I could still do BtD at the schools. I had the privilege of connecting well with my teaching partner and we were excited to share God’s word together in the schools. I was disappointed every morning when I would wake up with no change and sometimes feeling worse than better. The days were long and my mindset did not help. However, I was reminded of how I needed to keep my heart open to allowing God to speak during this time. The pain did not subside that day and my physical condition did not change, but my spiritual and emotional conditions were being shifted.
I’ve been focusing on the verses in 1 Peter 1:6-7 during my time in Africa. It reads, “In this you greatly rejoice though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith-of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire- may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” I did not know how much these verses were going to apply to my life during my time here. As I have continued to learn more about God’s Holy Spirit and his heart, I am finding a renewed and deeper genuineness in my faith. God showed me the gift of grace in this week. How to receive grace from others and the love that is so abounding within it!
This theme of receiving grace continued as we traveled to Lesotho. However, now that I was learning to receive grace, I was noticing how I can give grace even more fully. What a hard concept! Grace continually brings you to a state of checking your heart and intentions. I realized during our trip to Lesotho how freely I have used the word grace, without bringing attention to its action. As I was still recovering from my illness, the first couple days I struggled to find energy and strength to engage in conversations with my exp family and was easily irritated. I had to rely on God’s strength and earnestly ask Him what my purpose was in Lesotho. My heart was restless and I struggled to know why. On Sunday I was at my wits end with trying to be engaged with our ministry in Lesotho and feeling so empty. I was disheartened and frustrated that I had only experienced one day of thankfulness and complete fullness in the Lord after recovering from my illness and was back in a drought. I didn’t understand what God was trying to teach me and I had no desire to know. My ability to be fully enthralled in the ministry of Lesotho was lacking and it hurt my heart, especially because much of our outreach focused around my passions and interests. In the mornings we did physical labor, followed by going into the community and building personal relationships within Butha Buthe, and we would end our afternoons in a time of prayer and worship with the whole community. Later Sunday afternoon I decided to spend time with Jesus. I began to journal my thoughts and God did an incredible transformation. He spoke directly to me and used the analogy of my beloved steeplechase in track! Through this time, God essentially reminded me of how I need to keep my focus on the goal. Life is not always about finding the happy moments, but the perseverance. Whether that perseverance is for a long-term goal or finding God in today, we cannot be discouraged when He responds in His time. 1 Peter 1:6-7 is my goal right now. I must allow God to fully refine me by fire so that my faith will be fully genuine.
God continues to stir in my heart how I am his mission and he is jealous for a friendship with me. Until I fully open my heart to him everyday, our relationship can only be dictated by my willingness. This is the blessing of free will God has given us and how it makes our time with him that much sweeter. God has so much to teach each of us so we can live out His mission. I know I mentioned this in our other blog, but it creates so much depth in how to live life. By living in light of this knowledge, God has been able to show me how he can open up more of my heart, heal hurts and take burdens that I have caged.
|ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Onna Drake • 2016 International Immersion Intern