This was my “complaint” to God during my daily devotional one day back in October. The day before we’d just had a meeting with Pastor Jorge about the Celebrate Recovery (CR) ministry for women. During this meeting I found out what Pastor Jorge’s expectations were for this ministry and they were very different from how I imagined things going. Our home church in the states, York Christian Church (YCC), has a CR ministry and I fully expected that the CR ministry in our church here in Guatemala would be pretty similar to how we did it in the states (I know, silly me). You see in the CR ministry at YCC our CR pastor preaches the lesson to everyone together and after the lesson we break up into smaller groups (men and women separate) for open share time. This is exactly what I expected for the CR program here. Dylan would teach the lessons and I would lead the small group for women after the lesson. Well turns out in this culture it actually works out better to do the lessons separately for quite a few different reasons. So Pastor Jorge explained that he would like me to do the lesson for the women and then lead the small group share time afterwards. This meant I would not only be responsible preparing and translating these lessons but I would also be getting up in front of all the women and sharing the lesson every week (something very difficult for me because I REALLY dislike being in front of large groups) and of course I would be giving these lessons in Spanish.
I wanted no parts of this! This just wasn’t how I pictured it! I tried to remember what they taught us in missions school, “be prepared for EVERYTHING to go differently than you imagine it,” but I never expected this. I prayed and prayed for God to work it out so that we could do it some other way, hence my “this is NOT how I thought it would go Lord” prayer. I pleaded with God and told Him over and over how inadequate I was to do this and that Dylan or someone else, ANYONE ELSE, should be doing this! One day during my devotional time He lead me to 2 Corinthians 12:9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. Well I knew I needed Christ’s power resting on me if I was going to do this so I decided to accept that His grace is sufficient for me and that His power would be made perfect in my weakness. And OHHHH let me tell you about weakness. For 2 weeks before the start of CR for women I found myself having trouble sleeping, trouble thinking about anything other than these lessons I had to give, and even trouble breathing (mild anxiety attacks).
Then came the day of the first lesson. I gave the lesson and the women told me they really enjoyed it and thought the program was going to be great. Then I came home and the lies started coming “that lesson was horrible”, “the way you speak Spanish you’ll be lucky if anyone could understand you”, “no one is going to come back next week” and on and on they went no matter how much I prayed and rebuked these lies. This went on for almost a whole day until I ended up in tears crying out to God, “I just can’t do this every week! I’m sorry, I know you’ve given me a great passion for this program and bringing it to these women is one of the big reasons you’ve called me here but I’m not the person for this. Not this way Lord, not with weekly presentations that I have to give!” Then after I was completely spent and laying there with no thoughts going through my head God reminded me that it’s not about me. It’s about Him and what He wants to do THROUGH me. He reminded me again that His power is made perfect in my weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9), He reminded me that His word will not return void but will accomplish what He desires (Isaiah 55:11), He reminded me that no matter how much I think I can’t do this the truth is that I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13) and He reminded me that He would bring in the women He wanted there it wasn’t up to me to get them to come back.
So I got to work on preparing my next lesson. I stopped saying “I can’t do it” and “this isn’t how I thought it was going to go” and just started doing it. I started meeting with the 4 women who God has already raised up who want to be leaders of the CR program. I stopped worrying about my inability to say everything perfectly in Spanish and started sharing my heart with the women in CR. I started focusing on the passion Jesus has given me for this program and stopped focusing on my inadequacies. I got over myself and started putting all my effort into the calling Jesus has given me and like always He has been faithful. During my first meeting with the 4 women who want to be leaders of CR Jesus brought about an amazing time of healing as the women started asking for and offering forgiveness to each other for things they’ve done or said in the past. They have expressed interest in starting the Celebrate Recovery small group step study which we hope to start in January. One of the girls has even expressed interest in taking this program to one of the church plants she works with once she completes the 12 steps and is a leader. God has shown me that my inability to say everything correctly in Spanish has made me a better listener because I don’t talk as much 🙂 He also continues to bring the women in every week to the lessons. Women who need healing from things I can’t even begin to imagine: physical, emotional, and sexual abuse, sex trafficking, rape, abandonment from parents and spouses, the list goes on and on. These women have shared with me many times how they are so thankful there is now a place for them to come to share the difficult things from their past and get the healing they need to be the women God has designed them to be and live out His plans for their lives.
God has shown me that even though this program is not going how I thought it would go it is going exactly how He thought it would go and how He designed it to be. He’s given me a passion for helping others heal from their hurts, habits, and hang-ups and He’s brought me here to Guatemala to do just that. He’s moving in this ministry in ways I never imagined and He’s allowing me to be a part of it even if it’s different than what I thought. Praise Jesus for He ALWAYS knows what’s best!!!
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
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James MacDonald says, in the original language, the translation goes like this: “Sufficient for you is the grace of Me!” I love that. It shouldn’t be God’s grace we’re after – it should be God Himself. Hope to see you soon!