Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Beautiful Word Pictures in Isaiah 61

The following is a post I wrote for my writing blog. I want to share it with you here as well.

For one of my classes, we have to choose a few verses each week to read. We read them in Spanish, give a brief explanation of what they mean, and then explain why they are important to us. This week, I decided to look at the first three verses of Isaiah 61, the chosen verses that represent Hope61.

I can't tell you how many times I've read over these verses with out really reading them. Until tonight. Picture after picture kept leaping off of the page and striking me in the heart. Beautiful word pictures that demonstrate what God can do for the broken. The unlovely. The unloved. I understand like never before why these verses are were chosen to represent what we do. I want to share these word pictures with you as well.

Isaiah 61:1-3

"The spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor."

God called me to serve Him as a missionary when I was 21 years old. Not many years later, He called me to go to Mexico and tell the people there about Him. Recently, I believe He's added yet another calling. I am to tell those who have been exploited or used by others about their value and worth in Him. About how they can have a new life in Christ.

"He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,"

This was the first of the word pictures to strike me, and it literally gave me chills. Imagine a beautiful vase. Now, imagine how that vase looks after it's been dropped. It's shattered. Pieces perhaps missing. No longer beautiful, right? With glue, it can sometimes be made new again. Not the same as it was before. But more beautiful. Especially when you put a light inside of it and see the light emanating from the cracks and chips of the vase. Beautiful. God's Word alone can heal a broken heart. With the good news of the Gospel message, we can "bind up the brokenhearted". Heal their wounds. Heal their very hearts.

"to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners,"

Freedom to those enslaved. Praise Jesus! But the only way they are going to have release from the darkness of their internal prisons is to become renewed. To accept Jesus as Savior and allow Him to renew them from the inside out.

"to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor and the day of vengeance of our God,"

This is a reminder to me that God is in control. Terrible, evil things happen every second of the day. But He has not abandoned us. He is a just God who hates evil even more than I do. Who hates injustice even more than I do. As Gary Haugen stated in his book "The Good News About Injustice", justice is not just a "cause" with God. It is His very character. His very Being. He will see that those who perpetrate these evil deeds are brought to justice. They will have to stand before Him and confess their deeds just like the rest of us.

"to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion--"

The only comfort for those who have been broken, used, abused, etc. is Jesus.

"to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair."

This is a beautiful picture to me. Imagine someone in the ugliest rags. Filthy. Hair matted. Stinky. Now imagine they've been cleaned. Arrayed in fresh, lovely garments. Instead of matted, stinky, ashen hair, they wear a crown. The life of someone who has been exploited is not pretty. They've gone through terrible things we can never even imagine. They bear scars we will never see. But through the redeeming grace of God, these lives can be transformed. Turned into something beautiful!

"They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor."

This one is the most powerful picture to me of all. My husband tells me that of all the domestic woods (not counting the exotics), oak is one of the most prized among woodworkers for its sturdiness, value, and beauty. Oak trees withstand at times great tempests. As do the exploited. A soul reborn, renewed through Christ Jesus is as the sturdy oak. Unmovable. Possessing great beauty and value to its Carpenter. These transformed lives become a living testament to what the saving grace of Jesus can do in a person's life.

They are living, walking, breathing displays of His splendor.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Facebook and Field Directors

If you've been dismayed by the lack of blog posts recently, that's because most of our updates have ended up on our Facebook group page. I'll try to do better about posting the same material in both places for those without Facebook accounts. But if you have one and have not already joined our group, please check out Gentrys' Mission To Mexico.

The field director for Mexico, David Cosby, and his wife, Carol, will be arriving on Thursday night. They are flying in to meet with us as well as our fellow Mexico City field-mates, Jonny and Gemma. The four of us are very excited to have this time of fellowship with David and Carol, as well as the opportunity to do a little dreaming and planning with regard to our time on the field, beginning in a few short months.

Won't you please pray that our meetings are productive and that God gives us wisdom and clarity about what His will is for our future ministries? Thank you!

Time Keeps Tickin' Away

Yesterday marked five months in Costa Rica. Five months! Time is flying by so quickly! Our first trimester of Spanish is behind us, and we've already begun the second. In less than seven months, we'll be packing up our belongings and flying to Mexico City.

As excited as we are to be here, and as long as we waited for this, we can't help but looking ahead. If the first quarter of our term flew by this quickly, I can only imagine how speedily the next three-quarters will go. Lord, we want more time!

It's taken four months to adjust to life in Costa Rica. I can only guess it'll take awhile to get used to life in Mexico City, as well. And we only have one year scheduled there. Lord, we want more time!

Thankfully, and because of God's grace and the faithfulness of our supporters, our account has held strong. Praise God! If it holds strong for two years, why not more? Lord, we want more time!

We all know that we serve a big God. To that end, Troy and I are stepping out in faith and asking something big of our big God. We are praying that our two-year term is extended to a three-year term. Or....dare we even ask it?...a four-year term. I believe God can do it! He can work that miracle!

Why do we want more time? Here's a little word picture for you that best explains our feelings.

After five years of dreaming about the beach, visualizing what we'd do at the beach, and planning and waiting for our trip to the beach, we don't want to settle for a little stroll in the sand. We don't want to merely get our feet wet! We want to swim in the ocean!

We want time to grow lasting, meaningful relationships with the men and women we meet. The kinds of relationships that don't just happen overnight. Time to really settle in to life in the country of our hearts. Time for the kids to truly experience the life of a missionary. Time for all of us to really get a great grasp of Spanish. Time for Troy and I to discover what ministry roles God has in store for us.

Won't you please commit to praying about this with us? If it is His will for our family, nothing is impossible for our big God. Thank you so much!