Friday, February 4, 2011

Being Obedient When They Spit in Your Face

When I was in college I spent two full summers ministering to troubled and at-risk youth in San Francisco.

It was emotionally draining and challenging and heartbreaking.

And, at times, just breaking.

I went to San Francisco during a time that God was completely transforming my heart and my life. I was tender. But I was excited and open and longing for all the things He was going to teach me and show me. The details of the ministry didn't appeal to me at first, but God, loud and clear, told me to go. And so, out of obedience, I went.

That first summer I worked hard and long and slept little. I loved as hard as I could. I sacrificed my savings and my summer and my sleep to be obedient.

And in return they spat in my face.

Literally. I invested everything in these kids, and one day I sat with spit freshly wiped from my face, and I questioned God. Why in the world would he send me here to be spit on?

That summer ended with disapointing results. Even though I was able to build solid relationships with many of the youth, none of them made a decision for Christ. None of them made life changes. They seemed unaffected.

Then, out of obedience, I returned the next summer. I invested once again. I can say I am still in contact with many of those youth, but I still wonder if any of those lessons I spent hours preparing, those many conversations that broke my heart, or those moments I persevered with spit on my face did any good.

That first summer was nearly ten years ago, and here I sit, once again, with spit on my face.

Recently I was in a situation where God asked me to sacrifice, and I did, with all my heart, and in return:

Spit.

The situation this time around is completely different. And the kind of spit completely different. But it leaves me with the same feeling.

Helpless. Insignificant. Inaffective. Humbled. Broken. Rejected.

But this time, I have struggled with something else as well.

Bitterness.

I have been questioning decisions and sacrifices I have made. I have wondered if possibly I was not being called to this sacrifice at all. Maybe I was only being obedient to my desire to feel needed and important.

Then, the last week God has held a mirror in front of my face.

And what I saw was selfishness.

He told me that He only asks for obedience. He does not ask me to be powerful or affective or significant.

That is His job.

When He told me to sacrifice He never told me I would be thanked or affirmed or glorified.

The glory belongs to Him alone.

I was never promised that my fragile spirit would not be broken.

Because when I am weak He is strong.

Christ never promised me that I would be accepted by the world.

But neither was He.

What God did promise me is that in my obedience I remain in his love.

And in His love my joy will be complete.

I must honestly say that I am still trying to rub my face clean of spit. And I feel wounded.

But in this I continue to learn what it means to be obedient.

In my brokeness, He is teaching me how to love with spit on my face.

8 comments:

Cathrine said...

I feel exactly the same way some days, especially about working so hard to be a witness - but someone told me something so cool one time: "We are not always going to see the ultimate result of salvation through our witness. Sometimes we are the person to plant the seed, or water it, or the 20th person to water it. But no matter how hard we try, we cannot make it take root."

As corny as I am, I love the song Thank You by Ray Boltz - you may just have a long line of thank you's coming when you get to heaven, I wouldn't imagine anything else!

Rebecca said...

Oh, how I love it when people quote me to me :) My best friend does that all the time. I guess maybe I need to learn to practice what I preach? Or maybe believe what I preach in this case :)

I was totally thinking about that song "Thank You" the other day. I haven't heard it forever but as I was processing stuff it came to mind. Maybe I should go listen to it.

KEZ said...

This post evoked so many emotions for me. I don't really know what to say in response but I just want you to know that I appreciated this post. It's real and raw. Thank you for sharing.

Mark Langham said...

What a perfect and powerful reminder of why we do what we do. Thanks Rebecca.

Johnnie said...

Thank you for sharing this with us, Rebecca. I need to bookmark this post and refer back to it when I think my teenagers are being unruly.
And by all means, pass along that Egypt pic. Thanks for stopping by. Blessings and love...

Johnnie
Saved By Love Creations

jen said...

I sympathize with you. I know that I really struggle with being right all the time and desiring affirmation in regards to what it is I think I know. My intentions begin pure, at least I think anyway. I start out with nothing but a desire to please, honor, and glorify God by learning what it is He has to teach me and then share it with others... but it many times turns tables on me and I see myself selfishly trying to shove it down someone else's throat, (so to speak), all for the glory of God. ;)
I get very frustrated and then humiliated, (praise be to God), that He reminds me it is for me to share and for Him to give the ability to accept and understand. I do want to see the fruits of my labor, but with a big gulp in my throat have to admit that its still His labor through me.

Melissa Irwin said...

I'm getting caught up on your blog today. Really sorry I missed this when you posted it. It is so beautiful and reminders that I night right now, today.

Rebecca said...

Sorry to reply to you all so late, but I just want to say thank you so much for your comments and encouragement! It is a pleasure to have you all walk beside me on this journey.