It is when we come to the Lord in our nothingness, our powerlessness and our helplessness that He then enables us to love in a way which, without Him, would be absolutely impossible. Elisabeth Eliot
I am pondering these words on the advent of my return to the United States.
I confess that the recent weeks of my illness have rendered me weak and lacking in stamina. Although my health has improved, it has been a very slow process. I cannot think of a time in my life when a respiratory illness plagued me for soooooo long!
We recently had two Nigerian pastors stay with our family for a few days. One of them looked me directly in the eye and said to me continuously, “Heather, the Lord is your strength. The Lord is your strength. The Lord is your strength.”
I confess that as my Nigerian friend repeated these words each day, I felt convicted. Had I failed to acknowledge my God and His strength during this time of illness? Honestly, I felt so horrible the past seven weeks that the illness and its effects had often overshadowed any thoughts of God’s strength.
But my friend was right. My God is my Strength. And even though I still feel a little crummy and definitely not on top of my game, the fact that I have been weak and powerless has caused me to look to my God for His healing and for His help. In addition, this time has caused me to examine my heart inside and out. I have sought my God to not only heal me physically, but also do an inward work as I identified and confessed my sins. My God addressed my physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual weaknesses. And as He did so, healing began.
Please don’t be surprised that a missionary like me is confessing her sin.
Too often people put missionaries atop a pedestal of unrealistic expectation. This pedestal doesn’t identify who we as missionaries really are on the inside or on the outside. It is a platform of misconception. It is only a matter of time, before missionaries like me, disappoint and fall down. Sadly, all of those trusted expectations shatter to pieces and the results are not really that good for any of us.
I have attempted to be as real and transparent about my life and what I struggle with as I can. But, I also confess, that there are times when I am hurt. I may bury that hurt. Before I know it, the pain resurfaces in some unpredictable and unsatisfactory way – perhaps through an illness? And I am confronted with my unresolved pain and the sin that grew from it.
I am convinced that this illness has a spiritual solution that comes from God Himself and His Son Jesus Christ. And I also believe that the solution He offers me centers upon His love for me.
As I shared, I am returning to the United States very soon. Although I do not know what is exactly ahead, I am convinced that my God wants me to do three central things; love God and seek Him wholly, love those He guides my way, and pray for them to choose and embrace Christ’s transformational love in every aspect of their lives.
Even though I am departing the southern African mission field, it doesn’t mean that the Kingdom of God stops advancing. It only means that I am in a different place to continue the work of Jesus Christ and declare His love and the hope of His Kingdom.
It says in Scripture:
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. New International Version 2 Peter 3:9
Or said in a more contemporary way:
God isn’t late with his promise as some measure lateness. He is restraining himself on account of you, holding back the End because he doesn’t want anyone lost. He’s giving everyone space and time to change. The Message, 2 Peter 3:9
Why am I sharing these words from Peter? What do they have to do with the quote from Elisabeth Eliot?
Friends, there is no better time than now to declare the love of Jesus Christ to others in this hurting and difficult world. We have been given this space and time to live out the love of Christ in large and small ways with anyone in our sphere of influence. And I mean anyone! As Elisabeth Eliot suggests, I am to approach my God in weakness and humility so that He can equip me with His power to love others. As my Nigerian friend reminded me, God alone is my strength to help me do whatever work, share in whatever conversation, discuss in whatever meeting, or interact in whatever encounter, He wants me to undertake in His name – whether here in southern Africa or back in the States.
Yes, I am weak. However, it is through this weakness that my God’s strength, power and love will be most evident as He invites people to share in His mercy, grace, and forgiveness.
Yes, the time is now. The Kingdom God is advancing!
Please join me in loving God, loving others, and praying for them to receive Christ as their Savior and Lord.
How incredible it is that we may approach your throne of grace because of the transformational and life-giving work of Jesus Christ!
For me, I want everyone to know the love of Christ and to experience the joy He offers!
Father, please forgive me for my lack of awareness and lack of acknowledgement of your strength and care in my life – even as this illness has lasted for so long. I don’t want the symptoms of my illness to deny your gracious love and care in my life. I seek your complete healing and the compete restoration of my health.
In the meantime, guide me to the people you want me to encourage and to love in the coming months. Your Word says,“To Him who is able to keep us from falling and to present us before Your glorious presence without fault and with great joy — to the only God our Savior, be glory, majesty, power and authority through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages now and forever more.”
May this be accomplished for the glory and advancement of your Kingdom!
You are my strength, O God. I exalt and praise your name!
Photo Retrieved from Gallery of Lord Is My Strength Images