Show up.

It was 5:42am on Friday morning. I was sitting outside my house on our bamboo bench, trying to prepare my heart and mind for the day ahead in the village. The breeze was colder and stronger than other mornings, and the sun was taking a lot longer to rise than it should. This is a tell tale sign here in the Philippines that a storm is brewing and coming in quick. REALLY not what our team wants to see when we’re supposed to be on the road soon…

My mind instantly started considering the dangers and risks of taking the team up the mountain in a storm. The already challenging path we take each week would become a slippery, muddy mess. The rain will make it hard to see the missing pieces in the road, the rocks, goats and other farm life suddenly crossing the road, and there is a high potential that even our pick up truck will get stuck (in a rebel zone with 3 American visitors riding with us).

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That morning I felt the heavy weight of responsibility on my shoulders to be wise and keep the team safe. My brain automatically said just don’t go today, but my spirit was fighting it. I wondered why…

The team would be on their way to our house soon, I needed to make a decision. Are we going or not God? I read, I prayed, I sat down, I stood up, I walked over to the garden….as if maybe my standing or sitting or my positioning in the yard would make His answer come quicker and clearer! …nothing. It wasn’t a go, but it wasn’t a stay either. I took a deep breath and went inside. Still no answer, but I might as well get dressed. The storm clouds continued to roll in and my clock was ticking.

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If this same scenario were happening in my life years ago, I would’ve had no problem. We simply would not go. Back then, whatever my brain told me was smart, that’s what I would choose. But then I learned to hear Gods voice, I learned to tune in to that tiny whisper inside of me, and my life was wrecked forever. I mean completely flipped upside down. I can no longer lean on my own understanding; I can only acknowledge Him and listen for Him to direct my path.

Makes for a real cute verse or refrigerator magnet,
but a tough life motto to truly live by…

Usually, when I can’t yet clearly discern the direction of God in my life, I just keep walking forward until He tells me to stop or change where I’m going. That was essentially my stellar game plan for this day too. The team arrived, they packed up all our supplies and food and loaded it into the truck. Meagan’s family, our visitors for the week, packed their lunches and prepared their bags, everything was ready. We huddled into the living room in a circle for prayer and worship.

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Jeni started to play the guitar and the team started to sing. I just love that moment every morning when the atmosphere in the room shifts and the presence of God becomes really tangible. The world to me for a moment, feels very small and personal. I started to pray again…God what do you want us to do? 

I want you to go. I want them to see today
that I love them so much. Tell them…

He didn’t scream. He didn’t write it on the wall. He didn’t hack into the sound system in my house and inform us all together in unison. But as sure as I’m ever sure, He answered. And deep down inside, I always knew He would. The question all along was really this-...would I be bold enough to listen and obey once I heard His answer?

All in all it took us 7 ½ hours to get there and back on Friday, we were completely soaked and cold all day, and our butts were a bit bruised from the rough roads. But we made it, no problems. God was good to us.

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As we traveled there that morning I sat in the back of the truck and thought about what God had said- about His plan for them to really SEE how much He loves them. You know, we go into these villages each week with bible stories, livelihood skills, feedings, games, and its good. But sometimes they still question why we are there. They talk among themselves and they think I can’t understand what they’re saying, but I can…

“maybe they have to fulfill their religious duties for the church or the gods wont bless them…maybe she had leftover food at her house so she brings it here…maybe they get paid a lot of money for coming here…maybe she feels bad for us…maybe she doesn’t have any family in America so she comes here…maybe she will make a movie and we will be famous..”

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I’m not kidding, I’ve heard all the reasons. It’s hard sometimes actually not to be offended by their reasoning…

No matter how much we try to preach Jesus and live and love and serve them with Jesus at the forefront of everything we do, they still have (yet) to comprehend it fully. They accept what we offer, but doubt our motives. Can I blame them? They only know what has been spoken over them and about them for generations- you are nothing, nobody sees you or knows you way out here in these villages, you are ignorant and unloved and your life will never amount to any more than this…

So when God told us to go to them on Friday, even in the danger of the storm, I really understood why. The people in the village wouldn’t expect us to come on this day. The whole island was under a signal 1 warning. They would assume we wouldn’t be there. They would know what the roads are like…

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But on this specific day God said go.

Because when you continue to show up for the people around you, in spite of the inconvenience, they will start to wonder why. When they don’t deserve it, or its least expected, or they assume you wont be there, but then you ARE there- it shakes them up. It rattles loose all the delusions put there by the enemy about why you could possibly still care about them and forces them to see the truth-Someone really does loves them.

If it was about religious duties, or leftover food, or money, or pity, then we would have stayed home on Friday. But when I stood in front of the kids that day and then later again in front of the moms in English class, they knew I had nothing to gain by being there. I told them how much God loved them, how He wanted us to be there with them, and I trust that for the first time, they really started to believe it…

I heard Beth Moore preach the other day and she said this: “there are no shortcuts to long-term effectiveness and faithfulness..”

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Basically, you show up. And then you show up again, and again and again. Day after day, week after week. Through mountains and valleys, when you can’t see any fruit from your labor- show up again. When they question your motives, keep going. When they take what you give them and then walk right away without ever looking you in the eyes, keep giving. When the passion and fire inside of you fades, go anyway.
When God says go, you go.

Because there are no shortcuts in ministry or just in life. Sometimes the people around us just need to SEE it over and over again before they can finally believe that God really loves them.

Who is that person in your life who needs you to show up for them right now? Maybe you’ve been showing up for years now, and you’re tired and frustrated because they still don’t get it and you don’t see any change. Will you find inside of you a tenacity from the Holy Spirit to push through and keep going? Because today might just be the day you show up, against all odds, and the enemy finally loses his grip on them…

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There are no shortcuts to long-term effectiveness.
Be faithful to the call.
Show up.

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