Tuesday, April 12, 2016

washed clean

Today we went to one of the barrios in Alajuelita - one of the poorest counties in Costa Rica. The neighborhood consisted primarily of Nicaraugians who had transplanted to Costa Rica for a better life. If the poor corrugated metal shacks where a better life for them, I can't imagine what life looked like before.

We had so much fun playing with the kids, but it was extremely dirty. We played in a dung filled, dust bowl with sewage water streaming down in rivers through the makeshift concrete gutters beside the houses. When we got there, children appeared from many of the rusty doorways and quickly ran out to join us in playing with the jump rope, coloring pages and games of tag over piles of abandoned rubbish.

I've been dirty before, but today I felt filthy, from the snuggles with snotty children, to the superfine dust that filled every crevice, I looked and felt utterly disgusting.

It's amazing how I shower ever single day and never appreciate it as much as I do on days like today. I feel like a person transformed. I've come away clean, no longer covered in the stench of this world, but have been made into something fresh, good smelling and sparkling clean.

What a picture of Christ's transformative work in our lives.

"We are all infected and impute with sun. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags." Isaiah 64:7

I once sat,  covered in the mire of my own sins. My identity was wrapped in this barrio of the world when Jesus came and plucked me out of my own filth to cleanse me from my sins.

"Jesus answered, 'unless I wash you, you have no part with me.'" John 13:8

"How lovely are the feet of those who bring good news." Isaiah 52:7

Friday, April 8, 2016


Recently I've been looking at the difference of living a life of expectancy and living with expectations. Although they may sound similar they're not quite the same thing.

My life has been filled with a list of expectations, but unfortunately expectations don't fly solo. They always come with an equally big list of disappointments and broken dreams. We dream about how events will be, we want to look forward to certain things, but when life doesn't bring you the list you expected, it very quickly goes from something exciting, to dejection and disappointment. Eventually, I tend to turn to complaining, because things just didn't happen the way I expected.

Expectations are are all about me and the outcome that I want.

I wrap layers of expectations around events, life experiences, and future hopes, but when the wrapping paper is stripped away, I'm faced with the ugliness of the events.

Expectancy comes through looking towards God and the plan that he has for my life. It rests in the hope that I have in a plan that is infinitely more detailed the my own.

God doesn't doesn't cover up the gifts he has for us. Our loving father gives us life experiences in their raw form. Just as they are, good, bad, scary, beautiful, and joyful. Sometimes these gifts come through hardships, and sometimes through the beautiful interchange of another person who culturally is so completely different than you.

Life experiences can color your own expectations. What I look forward to and what my friends expect may look completely different.

As I prepare to go to a new country, I've tried to set aside my expectations to be open with expectancy to the experiences that God wants me to have. I want to experience each gift that he has prepared beforehand for me. I know there will be challenges and joys to experience, but I am fully expecting that God will use each experience to teach me and grow me.

In order to experience this, I have to be open and adaptable to God's plan. I must die to my own plan, and in humility consider myself a tool and instrument in God's greater plan.

So as I pack my bags and prepare to leave to visit a new culture, I want a fresh expectancy for what God wants to do in and through me. I desire a heart filled with compassion and eyes open to ways to serve others. I expect that God will give me the right words to say to the people that I meet and boldness to say the words he gives.

"Do not say, 'I am only a youth;' for to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command  you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, declares the Lord."
-Jeremiah 1:7-8

I want to be open to be used in any way that God wants me to be used. Open for activities not going as I planned and adaptable to those surprise, unexpected moments. With arms outstretched in expectancy, I look towards the cross and
the real work that Christ may be doing.



"Be a learner not a knower. Be a server not a master. Be a listener not a speaker. Go with only the expectations that you are open to God’s plan and you want to be used in any way he wants to use you. Go with the heart that you have been sent by God. Act like a diplomat of God’s kingdom, because you are."

-Mike Pettengill