I’ve been living here in Puerto for almost 4 months now and survived my first semester as a real teacher! I feel so blessed to be a part of Manantial and what God is doing with this ministry and most importantly, I feel so blessed that Jesus chose me to be my students’ teacher. Every day I’m reminded of Jesus’ faithfulness and goodness in both the mundane and simple things of everyday life here as well as the cool and exciting trips and adventures we’ve been on. But if I’m completely honest, it has been a daily fight to choose to see God’s faithfulness and to see beauty and joy on days that are long and hard… and there’s been a lot of those days for me right now.
Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about how Jesus knows how to relate to us. He can truly empathize with us and our sufferings. He knows our sorrows and has felt our pain. I think about all the places that Jesus traveled to in order to bring the Good News to people in foreign places. Even with cultural differences and feeling at times misunderstood, I think about the biggest cultural difference of them all: Heaven and Earth. Jesus went from a place that was perfect, sinless, paradise and seated at the right hand of His Father to being born in a completely far off and upside down world. Full of sin, full of sorrow, and full of pain.
I can’t imagine coming here to earth, knowing Who you are and Whose you are, proclaiming to be the Son of God and being the hope for the world and then having people laugh, spit on you and mock you for what you have to say and bring. I can’t imagine knowing where you came from to now being surrounded in a place that’s far from familiar and comfortable to you and surrounded by people who reject you. So when I start to feel some of these things too, I can rest knowing that Jesus has walked this path before me and knows how to meet me exactly where I am.
Psalm 116:7 says, “Let my soul be at rest again for the Lord has been good to me.” Every day when I wake up it is a real battle for me to choose joy and optimism. In the past, I’ve struggled with pessimism and anxiety and allowing my thoughts to dictate and cloud my judgments on my world around me. And in this season right now, it’s been easy for me to fall back into those temptations again and every day I beg the Lord to “take this cup from me” … Take this cup if it is your will, God. But if this is what keeps my knees bent and my arms lifted high, then God go ahead and keep chipping away at me. Keep refining me because I know in the end suffering produces perseverance, perseverance produces character, and character produces hope.
Jesus went before His Father in prayer and asked if there was a Plan B. To take this cup from him if it was his Father’s will. But if not, then He would choose to obey and trust His Father and go through with the original plan of giving up his life sacrificially for humanity. And that He did. So then, Jesus went back and saw that the disciples were asleep. Rather than staying awake, keeping watch, and praying, they fell asleep almost unbothered by what was taking place. Unbothered by the weight that Jesus was beginning to feel which was the wrath of God for all the sins of the world. The disciples fell asleep unmoved and unbothered by what was being cast upon Jesus’ shoulders.
Jesus was more concerned about their sin than I think they were. How often is that me though? Far too often I’m asleep and “dead” in my sin I’m apathetic towards my sin and fail to recognize the weight that Jesus had to carry for me. I fail to see just how detrimental it is when I tiptoe back into sin that I’ve already given to Jesus. Things that I’ve already been saved and forgiven from. In this season that I am facing right now, I feel like every day is a spiritual battle and instead of choosing to feast my mind on things that are good, true, and holy, I’m giving in to the lies that Satan uses to trip me up when I’m fatigued and tired. When I feel like I have nothing left to give, instead of running to the One whose arms are outstretched for me, instead of clinging to truth, I run right back into sin that is comfortable and familiar to me.
When Jesus was baptized He heard the Father say “This is my beloved Son,” and knew that God was so pleased. Everyone wants to hear this from their father. Knowing that when He looks at me He says, “This. Is. My. Daughter. And wow, I am so pleased with her.” His love is unreserved, unrestrained, and unashamed to be seen with me. Ephesians 5:8-14 says, “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light, for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness, and truth. Test and prove what pleases the Lord. Have no fellowship with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for everything that is illuminated becomes a light itself. So it is said: “Wake up, O sleeper, rise up from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
Coming here and being thrown into a new culture, a new job, I feel like I’ve had to crawl…no… drag myself across the halfway point towards the finish line. These past few months have been so difficult for me but I know in the end, Jesus is using this to break me but not destroy me. In Genesis, it talks about “from dust you came and dust you will return” and I feel like God has been taking me through a “dusting period.’ I feel like I’ve been stripped of everything that was once comfortable and familiar about myself, home, friends, and family, and in a way slowly being turned back into “dust.” But we know that God created each of us from the dust of the earth and I believe that the work He has started will be brought into completion in His perfect timing. We will never see this work in full completion until we reach heaven but in the meantime, we are being refined and sanctified every day. In time, we have hope that God will repair what is broken and until that time He is forming me more into His image and who He has created me to be here on earth.
If you’d like to support Shelby as she serves with GEM in Mexico, you can do so HERE. You can also contact her directly to talk further about what it means to be on her support team and find out how you can be praying for her!