The Things Your Circumstances Don’t Change

by Laura on June 8, 2012

I’ll be honest, this missions gig hasn’t gone like I thought it would. 

When I was a teenager, I devoured books on Amy Carmichael, determined to live in some hut rescuing orphans. I wanted to “accomplish great things for God,” and I assumed that meant a dramatic adventure, namely, taking a plane somewhere.

When I had kids and my husband began feeling the pull towards a life overseas, the dream began to morph.  Now, I’d just be Amy Carmichael with Kids, my children walking amongst the impoverished, learning a sacrificial love, developing a sold-out faith on foreign soil {while at the same time maintaining a sense of national home, cultural-relevance in America, minimal transition-issues, and general up-to-date fashion sense}.

I thought before we began this journey that it would be easy to find our niche of ministry– we are working for free, after all. I assumed we would do what we came to do, and when that shifted, I assumed it’d be simple to find the gaping hole of need that we had been divinely equipped to fill. That the Story of our purpose here and role would make sense, sooner, rather than later. 

But, two and a half years in, and I am continuing to find that Amy Carmichael I am not, that missions can be brutal on a family, and that fog is no respecter of the Jesus-disciple. 

And I was reading just the other day in this book I happen to love, and the words caught my breath, as is often the case when I have the guts and discipline to really ask the Living Word to speak.  And it said simply this:

And now, these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.” – 1 corinthians 13

And I’ve read that a million times, but this week, it’s struck a new chord. Because, this, this is what I so desperately need– faith, hope, love– qualities not dependent on my circumstances, missed expectations, or personal doubts.

Faith. That God is in the smack-dab-middle of writing a good Story — for me, for us, for them.

Hope. That beautiful things can rise from ashes. That the next bend could bring what we’ve been waiting for all along.

and Love. From God, for God, and for all his kids around me. The extravagant, never-stopping, everybody-included kind.

And I don’t know where you find yourself this weekend, what circumstance or fog or barrier weighs heavy on your soul. Maybe it’s a job you hate or money that can’t stretch far enough. Perhaps it’s a child you don’t have yet or one who’s drifted far, on purpose. Maybe it’s the  drag of the mundane or the failure of the adventure. But whatever it is, whatever circumstance threatens to speak doubt or anger or depression, my prayer for you, for me, is that these three will keep on remaining,

faith. hope. and love.

Played out in a million, daily, gritty, far-from-dramatic choices

The kinds of choices Amy Carmichael probably made, but that never made her books.

**************

And, yes, as a side note, that flower is real.  Crazy-gorgeous, right?  It’s in a pot of water at the end of our neighborhood road, and it floors me each time I’m undistracted enough to notice it.

  • http://medievalchristianreflections.blogspot.com/ Michelle

    Your post gripped me in my blog reader-since we both love Amy Carmichael and I wanted to be one too, but health issues and life choices, through God’s Sovereignty, have shown me what He desires in the nitty gritty.

    I don’t know which book Amy Carmichael said this in, but here is one of her quotes: “If
    monotony tries me, and I cannot stand drudgery: if people fret me and
    the little things of life set me on edge; if I make much of the trifles
    of life, then I know nothing of Calvary’s love.” ~ Amy Carmichael

    I also love her book, Mountain Breezes-all the poetry God led her to write. This, too, shows her struggle with those things that tried her at times.

    (Sorry for the sudden change of color. It’s odd, but because I copied and pasted that quote from my blog, everything after that is now red!)

    I love reading what God is doing in your life, even if it doesn’t live up to our Amy Carmichael expectations.  I don’t comment near enough!

    • lauraparkerblog

      Thanks, Michelle, for your encouraging words! Loved that quote by Amy Carmichael you shared, esp. that last bit. So good . .. oh, those “trifles of life” get to me, ya know?!

      Thanks for stopping in and connecting . . .

      Keep pressing on,
      L

  • http://medievalchristianreflections.blogspot.com/ Michelle

    Okay, so apparently, everything turned back to black after I published my comment! :)

  • http://www.angiewashington.com/ @ngie

    Mine was Elisabeth Elliot. Might explain why I spent the first five years on the field having a daily panic attack fearing my husband would die any day. Even though we didn’t live in the jungle and our “niche” was initially leadership and bible training with Christians. I can laugh about it now. But I remember the gripping terror. If you want to call it a pretty little fog then you might do well picturing the smoke monster on Lost. I feel your pain. You have chosen well to return to the root and ground of the Word. Such truth. Such power. Yes, let’s look at the eternal constants. {and your pictures illustrate your thoughts perfectly}

    • lauraparkerblog

      Awesome, I can picture it now– all End of the Spearish.

      Oh, the things we get in our heads and freak us out . . .

  • Adina

    I read this and was struck by the weight of our self-made measuring sticks.   What makes a good missionary?  Amy Carmichael and all those who love her.  What makes a good mother?  Someone who never loses her cool or yells at her kids.  Or pays attention to the myriad of inane statements made by small mouths, no matter if they’re made in the middle of holier-than-thou prayer times.

    Or…this one gets me…what makes a good Christ follower?  Someone who does work that actually draws souls into salvation.  Painting canvases doesn’t really do that, does it?

    Oh, the voice of my enemy…..

    How beautiful to remember that God gets to make the measuring stick.  And none of us measure up.  So He bathes me in the blood of Jesus Christ, and gives value to every tiny moment of my life.  Now THERE’S hope.

    • lauraparkerblog

      I LOVE this comment! Sounds like a post in and of itself,actually! I love the idea of the measuring stick and how God is the one who sees and knows and gifts and places and works behind the scenes. And how He is always always after our hearts, mostly– no matter how that plays out in our jobs/choices/path/callings.

      And, friend, you definitely don’t “just” paint canvases . . . .

  • songbird

    What a flower! Man! Thank you for sharing that with us <3  Good message and writing, Laura. Elisabeth Eliot and Anne Keimel Anderson were my mentors from afar. Even though I reside in a large city, I am a missionary in 'this' jungle, and even though 'circumstances' connected me to this place, (vs God speaking to my heart to come here)  the Lord has assured me this is where I'm suppose to be. Reminding myself of that really helps because I am isolated, single and surrounded by crime. The area where I live and work is not one I would've chosen, and I wasn't familiar with the area before moving here.
    In the natural it is easy to get focused on the circumstances and this 'assignment' so to speak, has been one lesson after another, sometimes traumatic moments(like Ngie…kept having panic attacks) and always ample opportunity to meditate on His word daily to the point it not only becomes a weapon for my own survival but it brings hope, faith and love!  But if we're honest, there are certain things we just wouldn't do unless we are 'forced' to them…and in that place, where we must endure hardship, God is accomplishing something in us, there is no other way to accomplish.  
      The difficulty of these circumstances keep me clinging to the Cross. The uncertainty of some of the circumstances, keep me proclaiming His faithfulness and standing in faith. And I have grown. By embracing the things I really don't like, God's purposes are being accomplished.
    We are refined by fire, and becoming more like Him.  And when this season we are in, comes to an end and God turns the page to a new chapter, we will look back and finally 'see' the forest, and understand it better than when we were in the midst of it.   Trials turned to gold. It really 'will' happen. Honestly, we have much in common with Amy Carmichael, Elisabeth Eliot and Ann Kiemel Anderson…we are all women of God, daughters of the King,  annointed to preach the good news, true disciples of Jesus. Praise the Lord.  Blessings!

    • lauraparkerblog

      I know, right? That flower totally speaks to me daily. Daily.

      I love your point about being in a “jungle”, even in a big city. A good reminder that being a “missionary” doesn’t mean at all, at all, that you have to leave your home country– love has no borders, right? :)

      Keep keeping on in that jungle of concrete, friend,
      L

  • Amy Stewart

    Thanks for the insight, LL. I was just having a similiar conversation with one of my best friends on Friday around trusting that we are exactly where we are supposed to be. And, the waiting game can sometimes be frustrating as you think you’re not where you thought you’d be at a certain age (whether it be home owners or parents or married or richer) but, that we need to have faith that we’re EXACTLY where God wants us as he writes our story. It’s definitely hard but, I love the very simple reminder- FAITH, HOPE< and LOVE. Thanks sis.

    • lauraparkerblog

      hey girl. love that reminder that our assumptions of where we “should” be really shouldn’t affect our opinions much of where we “are.”

      love you much. miss you,
      L

  • Richelle Lynn Wright

    ah… internet has returned to my part of the world and coincides with my first day of summer vacation! so now i’m catching up!

    my missionary heroine has been, for many years, gladys alyward – the sheer guts and determination mixed in with a willingness to serve in whatever way God opened the door whether she felt qualified or not… that’s the type of misso i pray to be when i grow up.

    i’m thankful God’s writing each individual story and that He’s the one weaving them all together into a cohesive anthology – and that He doesn’t compare or say one story is better than another – they are all His beautiful creations. a similar passage always causes me to catch my breath: Col 3.12-14…

    once again, thanks for sharing so authentically and openly, laura!

    • lauraparkerblog

      This was a beautiful true statement:

      “i’m thankful God’s writing each individual story and that He’s the one weaving them all together into a cohesive anthology.”

      I love that image of the cohesive anthology. Perfect.

Previous post:

Next post: