Just Believe

“God. You are such an amazing God. We offer up everything to you because we know you are faithful. We place all we have, even our lives, in your hands and ask that you use them to do what you know to be best,” we prayed.

“We ask you, God, to move today. To show up in a way that can only explained as ‘of you’. We pray specifically that you will keep us safe, that you will place a specific burden on each of our hearts, and that you will enable us to see the world through your eyes. Amen.”

We were starting the VBS in Tipitapa that day. The prayers had been lifted up, the plans had been finalized, the community was ready for us to arrive, and we were ready to go. But nothing could have prepared us for what was going to happen next. Nothing can really prepare you for when God moves.

I believe there are moments in life that mark us. Moments that stretch our hearts and push us to the brink emotionally, spiritually, physically. There are moments that leave such an impact that they become a part of who we are – good or bad – and help define who we are going to be.

We all react differently to these moments. Some of us harden our hearts, others weep, others are filled with determination, and still others fall to their knees in prayer. We are all different and experience these moments differently. But one thing remains true for us all: after we have lived through such a moment we can never be the same again; we are forever changed.

I am certain that many of you reading this blog entry have experienced moments such as this. And I am also certain that they have been as different and varied as the people that experienced them. I know that has been true for the moments in my life. I have been through situations that broke me, others that strengthened me, and others that propelled me and changed the course of my entire life.

Each moment, whether joyful or painful or both, has served a purpose and has helped redefined what it means to live in Christ, to be a servant, to be a leader, to have faith, to persevere, and, most importantly, what it means to love.

As a result, I have become more sensitive to looking for and identifying these moments as they occur. I often pray that I will be able to see them, to experience them, and to help others see them as they happen. I do this because I believe they are too important for the formation and growth of our souls to miss or overlook.

This past week in Nicaragua was so full of moments that I am confident I did not see them all. We prayed specific prayers and God moved in specific ways that were undeniably of Him. He broke hearts, lifted spirits, encouraged His children, challenged His leaders, and provided to all of us our daily bread.

It was, quite simply, a week of overwhelming moments.

Over the next few entries I am going to share some of the stories from this week. I want others, especially those who were actively praying for us, to know just how much their prayers made a difference and just how BIG God was for us this week.

That said, back to the prayer at the beginning of this entry, but first a little background info. In previous trips to Tipitapa we had been almost overrun. Crowds of people (mostly adults) have overrun our efforts and teams and caused us to leave early and not be able to accomplish all of our goals.

As we planned this trip and discussed going to Tipitapa I was, admittedly, concerned. I felt a HUGE burden from the Lord on my heart to take the team back to Tipitapa (as did Walter) but I was letting my own concerns and fears get in the way of what God could do. The main thought in my mind was that I did not want to put the team at risk nor did I want to lose time serving the people of Nicaragua if we had to leave early. As a result, I was placing limits on what God could do instead of trusting his calling. I was Jonah.

In the end, the Lord’s persistence and constant reminders of His faithfulness during the planning process won out. We prayed and prayed and decided to keep Tipitapa on the agenda but to limit our time there to two days, and to have a backup plan in case things did not go as planned. As I think about it now I want to laugh at myself and kick myself for having such a small view of God and His ability to provide.

I am so grateful for his patience with me and my small faith.

As the day got closer, I got more nervous. The night before I discussed what I was thinking with the guys of the team and we prayed some very specific and very powerful prayers. The next morning I had the honor of praying with Tyler and Michelle as we once again lifted up very specific prayers to our Lord. The words at the beginning of this entry were from those prayers. I then got to pray with Jonathon as we once again called upon the Lord to show up and move and to make our work possible.

We talked and prayed as a group before we left. And I shared with the group the story of the synagogue ruler that asked Jesus to heal his daughter in Mark 5. It was definitely as much or more for myself as it was for them. Here is how the story goes:

Jesus is going to heal the ruler’s daughter, but on the way to his house a man came from the ruler’s house and told him, “Your daughter is dead…Why bother the teacher anymore?”

If this had been me in this moment I would have lost all hope. I imagine the ruler did the same. He had seen Jesus heal sickness, but death?? Death had to be too much. NOBODY was bigger than death!

But Jesus, “ignoring what they said, told the synagogue ruler, ‘Don’t be afraid; just believe.’”

When Jesus got to the house he was laughed at, ridiculed and all kinds of hurtful things were undoubtedly hurled his way. But he moved past it. It didn’t stop him. Jesus’ faith in the power of His Father, the Lord and King of all, the maker, the sustainer, the healer, and the master of death itself, never waivered.

He walked into the house to where the child was, “…took her by the hand and said to her, ‘Talitha koum!’ (which means, ‘Little girl, I say to you, get up!’). Immediately the girl stood up and walked around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished.”

Can you imagine the impact of this moment? Can you imagine how it changed EVERYONE that was a part of it?? How the faith of the apostles grew, how those that saw it began to believe, how much more deeply the parents valued their little girl??

I was not there and I have been changed by this moment. It blows my mind. Jesus looked right at this man and told him, “Do not fear. I am bigger than all things, even death!! Just believe! I will move and your faith will be rewarded.”

I took that scripture and engraved it on my mind for the day. I was not going to be afraid of what could happen, I was going to believe. What happened next still blows my mind. I am just like those in the story that were astonished. God moved in a way that could only be of him.

In the morning we went to the school. In the past we had been overrun and surrounded by individuals as soon as we arrived. But this time, despite the commotion of a 22 person team singing, playing games, putting on a play, and doing crafts with 250 children, NOT A SINGLE PROBLEM SHOWED UP. We were left in peace to work with the children, to focus on their hearts, to invest in their lives and souls, and to not worry about anything except being the loving hands and feet of Christ.

It was incredible.

Then came the afternoon. I was still placing limits on God and thought for sure when we started playing games with the kids the problems and difficult members of the community would show up. We arrived, started the games, and there was only children.

We played more, brought out balloons, played music, sang, danced, ran, and did a million other attention capturing activities BUT NOT A SINGLE ADULT CROSSED THE BORDER OF THE FIELD WHERE WE WERE!!

God placed a hedge around us. He put his angels around us. He was provider for both our safety, and more importantly, for the children with whom we were able to share His love.

He was bigger than ANYTHING that could have set itself up against Him.

He was the great I AM.

Today, I encourage you to not be afraid of whatever is going on in your life. Whatever challenges or problems you face, know that God is bigger than ALL of it. He is the same God that raised the dead back to life, put a shield and hedge around his people working in Tipitapa, and the same God that is above all things. All He asks is that we “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”

THANK YOU to all who were praying for us. This is only the tip of the iceberg on what God did this week. Your prayers were heard, answered, and are so deeply appreciated.

More to come soon.

One Comment

  1. Papa & Gigi says:

    We are thankful for the fact that your prayers were ansered, and will look forward to knowing the other wonderful way that all of you were blessed.

Leave a Reply