God: “How do you eat an elephant?”
Me: (slightly confused) ummm… one bite at a time?
Then it clicked!
God often asked His disciples questions. I believe God asks us questions in order to get us thinking and to lead us to revelation. When God asked me about eating an elephant, all of the sudden, my mind understood several things all at once. The Holy Spirt was opening my understanding to what was going on inside of me.
For a few months now we have been having quite a hard time due to difficulty of pioneering. Particularly we have been struggling with lots of guilt, shame and condemnation. Feeling like we are failing at this missions thing and therefore letting people down, letting God down! It got hard enough that we decided to pray and ask God what to do… Should we pack up and leave? Should we take a furlough for 6 months or so? Should we stay and try to persevere through all this?
That’s when God asked me how to eat an elephant.
God identified to me two things that were killing our spirits and stealing our joy; weakening us and wearing us out.
#1 - When things go well dreams and the idea of indefinite commitment is exciting. However, when things get hard and depressing (unfulfilled dreams in our case), the idea of being “stuck forever” is very discouraging.
In my mind I knew the elephant represented the entirety of our vision for French Polynesia: having a training base running, schools discipling students, outreach teams going to the nations and this island getting reached with the Gospel. God was saying that with each day the elephant had not yet arrived, with each day our vision has not come to pass, with each day we had not accomplished the entire vision of what we came here to do, we were getting more and more discouraged.
#2 – We came here with a vague and undetermined commitment. It was exciting at first to just come and never know when we would leave, if ever. However, now the thought of never leaving this place of hardship was getting very heavy. God likened it to the picture of Atlas holding up the earth on his back.
Then God said “don’t leave just yet, can you give me one more year?” Can you take this “one bite at a time”? Do not focus so much on YWAM ministry but take…
God gave me some words from Malachi 3:10 “Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.” (Original context about tithing)
The Lord also gave us a couple things to put our hands to this year that will help in building relationships: an area of difficulty as well that has greatly added to the hardships. God told us to find a French teacher for Erin (David too) and really focus on language learning. He also told us to learn more Tahitian history and legends as a way to get to know the land and its people.
So… that is where we are at. This is not a year off or a long vacation. We will still do ministry as opportunities arrive and continue reaching out where possible. It is however a shift of our primary focus from getting a YWAM base established to language learning and creating a healthy family unit.
We have committed one more year to Tahiti for now. In July 1-5, 2018 there will be a YWAM Pacific staff gathering in the Cook Islands. We have registered in faith and have set this conference as the time we will re-evaluate and decide if we would like to recommit one year at a time.
We will see what this year holds for us as we switch focus and change perspective.
These two words had been rolling around in my mind for a month or so before we understood what was going on. My spirit was beginning to catch on to something the Lord was speaking, but it took a little while before we got the whole picture.
Since April this year we have been having a much harder time being in missions here in French Polynesia. It started with David hitting a real low point (see June blog post) and then Erin a while later. We wanted to give up and we wanted to go home.
God has spoken several specific words in the past few months as He ministers to us during this harder time. One of the first words He spoke was through a friend who asked Erin: “how is your relationship(s) with your spiritual covering?” If it is not good then it is not a surprise you are struggling; you are all alone out there!!
This word sent us to prayer and began unfolding more of the impression floating around David’s mind: “parents & orphans”. God revealed how we had drifted a bit in some of our relationships that were providing some sort of spiritual covering for us. God convicted us regarding ways we had distanced ourselves or not made enough effort to stay connected to those who pray for us, sent us out or provide some sort of spiritual “parenting” – we had orphaned ourselves!
As Erin and I prayed and repented, we made a list of people or ministries that provide covering for us somehow: a list of our “parents” if you will. We contacted them and repented for the distance that had arisen over time. For some it was simply re-establishing contact, for others it was a commitment to sow some of our tithe money to them faithfully, to others it was committing to regular contact & communication.
God spoke to me “3 Cs” that are a responsibilities for spiritual parents and “3 Cs” that are responsibilities for spiritual children. They are specific to our context of missions within YWAM but I believe there are principles here that apply to many other similar contexts/relationships.
May this bless you and regardless of who you are or what you do… pray and seek the Lord regarding your spiritual covering. Are there actions steps you need to take as a “child” of a “parent”? Are there things you need to do for those under your covering?
God has placed us in these relationships for our good and for our protection, growth and well-being.
Fathers and Mothers
Sons and Daughters