small things

I prayed for a stranger named Mike today.

When I got on the bike this morning, I turned on Spotify to the All Sons and Daughters radio station, hit “start workout” on the MapMyFitness app, and headed north toward the lighthouse instead of circling around 14 times over by the beach.

As I rode, my thoughts turned to God. I’ve had a very quiet year since coming home from Africa. He basically told me to stop striving to prove myself to everyone, to Him. He reminded me I didn’t need to work for Him to make Him love me, I already had His love. No amount of striving was going to change His amount of love for me.

So I listened for a change. Oh, I’ve had a few hiccups and missed steps, trying to plan big projects when He said take a year to rest, feeling useless, self absorbed because I haven’t tried to do a thing.

What I’ve learned over the last year is in all my striving, working, trying to prove my worth by doing huge things for God, I lost the ability to be okay with who I am. Okay, I’ve never been okay with who I am. I’ve always tried to be who everyone else wants me to be. Because if I were just smarter, cuter, stronger, friendlier, funnier, I would be okay, I would be accepted, included, invited.

What has actually happened over the last year is I’ve stopped long enough to take care of me. I started riding a bike, lost over 30 pounds, rested from all the striving, had a physical, taken naps, enjoyed my boys, went for some counseling, decided to stop pretending my mental health was actually healthy. I’ve finally accepted that even in my ordinary, everyday life God can use me for His glory. I just have to be willing to let Him.

Back to the bike ride. I simply said, “God use me today.” I haven’t prayed those 4 words in a very long time. Oh, I’ve done things for God in my strength. And the things I’ve done were good. I served Him. But I do believe I served Him with my own agenda. Somewhere over the last few years I left Him out of the equation. I didn’t do it on purpose. I didn’t even realize I did it. But looking back, I know I did. It’s like that part where Jesus separates the sheep from the goats. The goats thought they were serving God, but they had their own agenda.

I continued north past the lighthouse, every now and then saying, “God use me today.” I thought about how the simplest, smallest acts of love can change the course of another person’s day. I thought about wanting to do small things with great love. When I rode 7 miles, I turned around to head south toward home.

As I approached mile 13 of mile 14, I saw something that looked like fallen branches or trash bags, some in the road, some near the curb. “What is that?” I wondered. I could see another cyclist pass by the ‘debris’. When I got close enough to see clearly, there was a man laying on the sidewalk, a duffle bag in the road. I stopped. “Are you okay?” He told me an odd tale of someone touching him with some kind of magical chemical that made him not able to see, making his head feel strange. I asked him if he wanted me to call 911 for help. But he said it wasn’t an emergency. He was waiting for a ride so he could go to church for help.

I stayed with him for a bit, reassured him the bus would be coming. Then I asked him his name. He hesitated, looking at me with mistrust in his eyes. I offered him my name first. Then I asked him if I could pray for him to be healed. He said yes. He hesitated when I laid my hand on his shoulder and prayed in Jesus name for healing. He thanked me.

I got back on my bike and rode home, marveling in the God who sees me, sees Mike, hears my prayers, and answers.

His… Michelle
Philippians 1:20

Linking with The Weekend Brew.

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moving forward

The sun rises, the sun sets. Another new day has come.

Isn’t it interesting how no matter what’s happening in your life, in the world, time keeps moving? God doesn’t let us stay in one place, stuck in repeating something over and over in the exact same way, like in that movie Groundhog Day.

Oh, I may have to be brought round to the same concept, lesson. But I’m always brought round to it in a different perspective. God always keeps things interesting. He shines light on the problem from a new angle, a new point of view.

So even when it doesn’t feel like it, I am moving forward in my brokenness. Even if it’s at a snail’s pace, millimeters at a time. All I need to do is look back to see how far I’ve come.

His… Michelle
Philippians 1:20

Linking at Thought Provoking Thursday.

what I brought home from Africa Mercy

I’ve been home from Africa for just about 2 months. I visited all my people. I settled into a new place by the beach. I’m in my second week of work. My heart is filled with peace, joy, and contentment. Finally.

This week, I started thinking about all the things I learned over the last year while serving with Mercy Ships. Here they are for you in a list in no particular order.

  • I LOVE people. All cultures. All religions. All colors. Rich. Poor. Male. Female.
  • Turns out I’m not as nomadic as I believed.
  • I need more stability than I thought. My flexibility had a breaking point.
  • I had to leave before everyone else because saying goodbye kills me a little every time. I see that now as I watch via Facebook as so many of my friends are now leaving the ship.
  • I really do need steady alone time to be happy.
  • I can only work and live in the same place for short periods of time.
  • I don’t mind talking to large groups of people. I just don’t want to meet them.
  • I’m better one on one or in very small groups.
  • I learned to be okay with people invading my space. So much so that when the little old lady volunteer grabbed my shirt yesterday to look down and see my tattoo I didn’t freak out. But don’t get any crazy ideas!
  • I really missed having my own place.
  • Sometimes you have to go really far away to realize how content you really were.
  • It doesn’t matter how rich you are, if you don’t have Jesus you are poor. I lost sight of that for awhile.
  • I really want to keep serving the people of the third world.
  • Its okay to take a year to just be.
  • Sticky Tack for hanging things on a wall is a must have.
  • As Christmas approaches, I keep reading the Christmas story in Matthew and Luke. When the angel visits Zechariah in the temple to tell him his wife will have a baby, he questions the angel, How do I know you’re telling me the truth? is basically the gist of the question. The angel responds, I am Gabriel and because you didn’t believe, you’ll be mute until your son is born. I wonder why he didn’t just write down what happened when people asked him? When Elizabeth delivered John, Zechariah wrote down his name is John when the people said there were no Johns in the family.

    These are the things I’m thinking about. How about you?

    His… Michelle
    Philippians1:20

    I’m linking up with my friend Lyli @ Thought Provoking Thursday. Be sure to go over and see what other folks are thinking about.