So many people in this world don’t have access to clean water! I take it for granted so often. Right now, I live in a house with 7 other girls, and sometimes the shower is cold. One day, I found myself annoyed because I was one of the last to shower and it was, indeed, cold. I started to whine to God about it and then I thought about it some more. I HAVE RUNNING WATER! It was kind of cold, sure, but I HAVE CLEAN RUNNING WATER! Millions of people don’t have that. Who am I to complain? So I chose to be thankful that I was able to shower with clean water that arrives in my bathroom right when I turn a faucet! Seriously, that is a privilege, not something every person in the world has access to. One in nine people in the WORLD don’t have access to improved water sources. That means that millions of people have to walk for miles just to find enough water to drink, or have to drink from the same pond that they wash dishes, their animals, and themselves in! I challenge you: every time you turn on a faucet today or tomorrow, pray for those who don’t have access to clean water, and thank God for the clean water you are privileged to have! And, if you want to provide clean water for a family or community in Asia, take action here: http://www.gfa.org/water/!
Another year, come and gone. 2014 is breathing its last. Admittedly, this year has held some not so great days. It has been one of the hardest, most stretching years of my life. I’m not a child anymore, and this year I was forced to taste adulthood in small ways. This year has left a bittersweet taste in my mouth, and as much as I could linger, or regret, or wish for could-have-beens, I am choosing to accept that this year has been what it has been.
In the hard things I have found more than sorrow, I have found a blessing. Standing fast in hard things forces you to not lean on your own understanding, not to lean on emotions, and to look a little bit more understandingly and frequently at Jesus. Fighting to accept with joy the hard circumstances (and not always winning) but fighting nonetheless brings peace. Face to face with unwanted realities, you are forced to make a decision, but this time in your heart, not just your head: do I believe that God is completely Sovereign? I know this to be true, but in my heart of hearts, do I believe it? When I finally say yes, even though I don’t understand, the trust between me and my Savior is deeper, and sweeter. God has asked deeper surrender and trust in Him of me than I have ever known this past year, and the surrender has been painful, and not easy, and an ongoing process. But through the tears, and the hard, hard days in which I could barely see the light of day, I am learning to know deeper and more fully that He is for me and with me; He is good, even if I don’t feel like it. The days of trudging are building endurance. That doesn’t mean I understand, but He has carried me through this year, and I trust Him more deeply than I did at the beginning of the year.
Don’t give up in the face of your trials, my friends, whatever this past year may have held, no matter what you’re still going through. Look through them; God is refining you in His fire, for His glory and for your good, and He always has lessons He wants to teach you through the trials. He will help you see them, and help you learn, if you let Him!
Now, I look forward to all this next year will hold. Many things will change; this I know. I will be attending Gospel for Asia’s School of Discipleship, and it will be my first time living away from home. But He has chosen this season for me, and I know He has much purpose in it, and many good things in it. I don’t think I have seen or understood all of the lessons of 2014, but that is okay. It will come in due time, and I will not forget the Lord’s faithfulness in this year. There have been hard things, and there will continue to be hard things, but nevertheless I press on. God has chosen this season for me, and I accept with joy. He is good, and I trust Him.
These two verses I cling to at the turn of the year:
Yet, my brothers, I do not consider myself to have “arrived”, spiritually, nor do I consider myself already perfect. But I keep going on, grasping ever more firmly that purpose for which Christ grasped me. My brothers, I do not consider myself to have fully grasped it even now. But I do concentrate on this: I leave the past behind and with hands outstretched to whatever lies ahead I go straight for the goal—my reward the honour of being called by God in Christ. Philippians 3:12-14 (PHILLIPS)
Do not call to mind the former things, or ponder things of the past. Behold, I will do something new, now it will spring forth: will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, rivers in the desert. Isaiah 43:18-19 (NASB)
I am excited to see what new things He is going to do in me and you this year. Keep your eyes open, keep pressing on! God is for you, God is with you, and He will never forsake you.
An anthem for the new year:
P.S. And if you still want to give a tax deductible end of year gift but don’t know where to give, I encourage you to prayerfully consider donating to my support for the School of Discipleship (I am currently at 24%!) or donating to help Gospel for Asia share the love of Christ in Asia. You can make a difference with any size of gift, and you will get a tax break through it too! 🙂
So! This next year, staring in January 2015, I will be attending Gospel for Asia‘s School of Discipleship! It is exciting to be stepping out into this next step of this journey of following God, and definitely is a step of faith. I have to raise support for my year, ($10,200 to be exact!) and I certainly don’t have that kind of money, nor do I know where it is all going to come from. But I serve a God who owns the cattle on a thousand hills! He is not lacking, and I am confident that He will provide. May I be so bold as to ask you to stop and ask the Lord if He would have you to help me in this way? (Learn more about helping to support me here: https://www.gfa.org/sd/clch/)
I need your help. I have created some original typography prints, and I will gladly give you one for a donation to my support page! Simply donate $15 for a 4×6 print or $20 for a 5×7 print here, and then fill out a contact form letting me know which print you chose, the size you want, and your name and address. Thank you so much for considering helping me get to the School of Discipleship!
All images @Clara Christofferson. Please obtain explicit permission before downloading or using in any way. Thank you.
There’s just something about fall. The trees– they dance in the wind, their fall glory flashing and glowing. The fall trees beckon to us, and they offer us the opportunity to follow their example; to dress in the colors of fall, and adorn ourselves in brilliant red, orange, and yellow.
You see, fall is the color of letting go.
The trees know winter is coming; they have felt the first chilled blasts of wind, and they are choosing to prepare for the season ahead. They bow in submission to the will of the Creator, the tides of the seasons, and they choose to relinquish all of their hard-won growth. For they know the secret of winter; they are not afraid. They choose to die in order that they might find new life. It is for life that they choose death. They endure the winter because they cling to the promise of spring.
For the fall trees losing their leaves is not unto death; it will not end in dead wood and emptiness forever. It isn’t just for the sake of being barren, but for the purpose of new life that will come with spring. They allow the wind to strip away because they are wise; they let go and submit because they see the hand of Providence, and look beyond to the greater purpose. The tides of fall are not unto death, but for the glory of God. Behold the fall trees! I have never seen a more glorious season as when the fall trees blaze with the color of submission, the color of letting go. And those beautiful, joyful, sweetly surrendered trees have such a glory about them.
When we see the signs of winter approaching, what are we going to do? When the blasting winds of hardship come, and the leaf is turned, what will we choose? Will we submit to the season that the Almighty God is bringing? Will we rejoice in the chance to prepare for winter, and dress our hearts in the posture of fall? Will we allow God to strip away the growth of self that remains, so that He can bring the new life that He sees fit?Will you bare yourself before Him, and wait for Him to make the first move? If you never allow Him to strip away, never allow Him to prune, then the growth will be hindered, and you will never fully see what He would do. He longs for you, for the joy of you being in His presence, and He so delights in His child who allows Him to freely prune and refine! How He delights in the glory of fall, in the colors of submission and letting go!When we choose to let go, and submit to the season He has brought, when we posture our hearts in a way that allows Him to freely strip away, that is when His glory can shine the brightest. How He is glorified in that!
I know, I know, I know it is hard. I know it hurts for Him to strip away. But remember: this season is not unto death, but for the glory of God. He does not delight in sorrow or in grieving the sons of men… It is not unto the barrenness of winter, but for the abundant growth of spring! But there cannot be new leaves if the old ones remain.
He is asking. Will you let go? Will you trust Him? Will you wait for Him?
If you answer yes, rejoice! Trust expectantly! Just wait and see what He will do. The sufferings of this present time are not even worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed to us. The weight of glory is your reward.
These words are mostly just a reminder to myself. Fall is glorious! Fall means paying a price. But it is worth it. If you are finding yourself in such a season, take heart! He is with you. He delights in your willingness to wait for Him. Hope in Him, for He does not disappoint! Don’t give up hope, keep on enduring the winter. Spring will come again, you’ll see.
The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him. Lamentations 3:25
For if He causes grief, then He will have compassion according to His abundant lovingkindness. For He does not afflict willingly or grieve the sons of men. Lamentations 3:32-33
And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. Hebrews 11:6
While I’m not doing a MyGFA campaign for my birthday this year, the principal remains the same.
“We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.” 1 John 3:16-18
Would you consider donating toward one of these other current MyGfa campaigns in honor of my birthday, even though they are not my own?
“The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’” – Matthew 25:40
When life unexpectedly changes, it is easy for a person to immediately kick and scream like a child throwing a tantrum, and try to fight against what they cannot control; for that is often easier than accepting the fact that they cannot control the future. These past few months, I have had a firsthand opportunity to experience this battle between apprehension and acceptance in the face of change. Every day, I had two options: If I looked down, an onslaught of self-pity and apprehension was sure to ensue, yet I found peace when I looked up in acceptance. It was a daily choice, and an ever-waging battle; and still, sometimes, when doubt whispers in my ear and the dark clouds of apprehension gather overhead, I taste the salty tears of defeat once again. The fact is, when we try to control the future and that which cannot be controlled, we will only find ourselves in the clutches of fear, and we will not be able to escape from anxiety’s groping talons. However, if we choose instead to accept that it is beyond our control—for we do indeed have a choice—we might just discover peace within that acceptance. Even though, before we moved, I often found myself paralyzed by the unknown, I found peace and victory over fear when I chose to accept that God is sovereign and He knows what He is doing. In this life, the seas of change will rage ferociously, and the unknown will loom; but there is One who already knows the future, and He is able to bring peace in the midst of the storm. He freely offers peace and victory over fear to all people, and He asks only that they would put their trust in Him. Acceptance is a process, and it will take choosing to believe the best over anxiety about the future again and again; but I found that it is worth laying down my plans to accept God’s plan, for in acceptance lies peace.
Excerpt from an essay I recently wrote, quote from Mountain of Spices by Hannah Hurnard, picture ©ClaraChristofferson
I have in front of me a picture of a woman and her child. Hurt and hopelessness radiate from their eyes, and the dirty and bedraggled condition of clothing and hair shows the state of their past, present, and future: poverty. Yet it is not only physical poverty that enslaves them, but also spiritual poverty. You see, this woman and her child most likely live in India, where their lives are ruled by the Hindu caste system. They have been told all of their lives that their poverty is a result of bad deeds they did in past lives, and that they fully deserve this standard of living. In their eyes, they are not valuable. They have no worth. They will live poor, and die poor, and not ever know hope; not ever know that Jesus loves them. Yet they are only two out of the 2.5 billion people who have never heard of Jesus’ love for them.
Now here I am, one who was lost and has been found, one who like a little sheep had gone astray, one who Jesus, the kind Shepherd, redeemed through His blood. I know what it is like to be lost in darkness, and I also know the life and hope and light that Jesus brings. Now, because Jesus died for me, and paid for my sin so that I would be made right with God, I do not have to fear death; for I will spend eternity with Him. Hallelujah! I know the hope of heaven.
So now what? Now that I have been given hope, what am I going to do with my life? Am I going to make myself a comfortable home here on earth, while I wait for my true home in heaven with Christ? Am I going to hold my head high and count myself lucky that I am not going to hell, and not care a single bit about the people around me who will go to hell when they die?
For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.” 2 Corinthians 5:14-15
Or am I going to live for Him? In John 14:15, Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep my commandments.”
Do I really love Him?
In Matthew 28:18-20, where Jesus gives the Great Commission, He commands His disciples to go and make disciples of all nations. And if you and I profess belief in Jesus Christ, then we are included in this command.
If these things are true, if my life truly has been transformed by Jesus’ love, how can I turn my back on the unreached? How can I not live for Him?
Oh my hard heart, be broken for these who have no hope! Change me, Lord! Break my heart for what breaks yours! Help me to live for You, even when I don’t feel like it. Help me to walk in small, faithful obedience. I’m not good at any of this, Lord, thank You that You can show yourself to be powerful and mighty in my life in these ways! I put my hope in you, Jesus. Amen.
Now that you’ve read this post, what are you going to do about it? Please, even if it is small, do something.
Almost two weeks ago, I had the privilege to attend the Declare Conference. I went with a team to represent Gospel for Asia, and I thought I was just going to help man our sponsor table, and maybe learn a few tips about blogging or social media. But God had more than that in store.
One of the biggest things that stood out to me at the conference came from Logan Wolfram‘s session on Wild Obedience, called Stewarding Life Well.
The theme of the conference was wild obedience, and I felt like laughing at the thought of me being wildly obedient, because it seemed so far fetched. Maybe sometimes obedient, probably more times disobedient, but wildly obedient? That stuff is reserved for super awesome people who live on a pedestal, right? But God. God really used Logan’s words to remind me and show me that He can use anyone, and that what looks like wild obedience on the outside is really just small steps of diligent, faithful, everyday obedience. It was such a good reminder, and a needed one, that God uses the foolish things of the world, not the super wise, super talented, super awesome. He can use anyone, if they are faithfully, diligently obedient. And on a more personal note, the Lord brought to mind some creeping doubts that had entered my thoughts in the days prior to the conference. “Who am I to serve in His kingdom? I am so small, how could I be useful? Do I even matter? Is all of this in vain?” And He confronted them with truth, and spoke kind words of hope over me. “Even when you feel so unequipped, He gives manna. It will be enough.”
It was really a blessing to get to meet so many awesome ladies, as well as get to share about what God is doing in Asia through the ministry of Gospel for Asia. I got to serve alongside Thomas, Sara, Natalya and my sister Elicia. We had the privilege of sharing about the documentary Veil of Tears and the plight of women in Asia, and we got to host a movie night for it! You can watch the trailer for Veil of Tears here, and just like the ones we had at our table, you can order a free movie night kit here. I am so grateful that the Lord allowed me to come to Declare. I thought I was just attending a blogging conference, but I got so much more than knowledge about blogging out of it. There, God moved and spoke. Now, I can see a little bit more that He has purpose in all things, whether they are big or small, and He has a plan. He simply asks me to follow and diligently obey in the small, daily things: He’s got the rest.
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 15:58
“When you wear the weed of impatience in your heart instead of the flower Acceptance-with-Joy, you will always find your enemies get an advantage over you.” -The Shepherd, to Much-Afraid (From Hinds’ Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard)
This time in which I find myself is one of change, transition, and unknown. The next few weeks hold many firsts, and I am finding myself taken aback in anxiety at the greatness of the waves that churn and splash with fury in this sea of change.
“I am just a little boat. What am I getting myself into? Surely I will end up on the bottom of the sea!” Such thoughts troubled my mind.
Even in the face of this vast unknown, closer than ever before, tangible in the folds of the coming days, I am not alone. I know that. But it is easy to forget. When the great ugly face of Change leers before me, it is easier to glare at it then to remember that God has greater purpose in these things.
Two days ago I was weary and grumpy and full of self pity. My enemies had an advantage over me. And when I looked into the garden of my heart, I saw clearly the weed of impatience and discontentment. And it was ugly. And it was a weed. And it was not easy to pull. But by God’s grace, by and by, I wore the flower of acceptance-with-joy instead of the weed. And then, that evening, even though I did not deserve it, I was blessed by the surprise arrival of friends coming to visit and have tea with me, arranged by my sister who wanted to bless me.
How hard I find it, to accept and be flexible and not scream and shout when things don’t go my way! But they won’t, or rarely will they, in real life.
Yet. When I do bow my will, and accept with joy what the Lord brings my way, I find I commune with the Lord in a way that is different, and beautiful; and I get His peace, and a chance wait for Him, and walk with Him one step at a time. And, I think He likes to bless us in extra ways that we weren’t expecting.
From Everyday Your Love is New// Esterlyn (Download for free on Noisetrade)