Dry Bones

image“And He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” So I answered, “O Lord GOD, You know.””
Ezekiel 37:3 NKJV

This chapter made me burst out into tears. I had a very emotional devotional morning that morning. I began my morning crying out to the Lord on behalf of a friend. The path this friend has chosen kills me everyday. Yet, I keep giving it to the Lord. You know how everyone always talks about planting seeds? Well this seed in my friend seems to be drying up. I haven’t given up, I just feel useless from half way around the world. The Lord reminds me everyday that I am in Cambodia for a reason. All He wants me today is trust in Him. The Lord shows Ezekiel this valley of dry bones. The valley that just looks sad and hopeless. Filled with dry bones. Then the Lord asks “Can these bones live?” Ezekiel knows that he can’t make them alive, but he does know the Lord has the power too. His response to the Lord’s question is perfect… It is the one that we should all answer any question with. What is 2+2? “Oh Lord, You know.” It’s not the wrong answer.
My prayers recently have been giving up in my efforts. Giving up trying to save them. But it wasn’t until I read this chapter that I realized that I had the wrong attitude. My mind has been centered on if I could help them. If I could save them… But I can’t… It’s not me who saves them. I will never know if anyone I talk to will be saved or have a relationship with the Lord like I pray they do. Yet, I can lean on the fact that “Oh Lord, You know.” Even if it seems like their lives are dry and thirsty for water, no matter what they drink, they need a drink of the living water. And only the Lord knows when they will get to that point. When they finally realize that the Lord is all they need.

A: My prayers know will be prayed with confidence that only the Lord knows. And I will trust in Him. In every situation, I know the Lord knows the outcome.

A Teacher Who Smiles

image“But the LORD said, “You have had pity on the plant for which you have not labored, nor made it grow, which came up in a night and perished in a night. And should I not pity Nineveh, that great city, in which are more than one hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot discern between their right hand and their left—and much livestock?””
Jonah 4:10-11 NKJV

I catch myself frustrated with my students sometimes. Is it normal human behavior to loose your temper once in awhile? Of course… But that is the flesh side.
When I first started teaching, I had a teacher assistant that spoke English and Khmer. She honestly was the greatest! Then she left and I got a new one… Still she was really good… I had her for about 2 weeks… Then she left. Now I am teaching on my own… And the Lord is working on an area in my life that I never expected. These teachers helped translate what I was saying to the kids, that way they could understand better what I was teaching them. Now they don’t even listen at times. The other day I couldn’t take it, and I almost left the room crying… My eyes definitely teared up for sure. I was blinded by anger on this day. I was trying to teach, but it felt like herding cats.  They wouldn’t stop talking and I tried everything I was taught. Yet I couldn’t control my frustration. Nothing I did could make them stop talking, it was insane.
I was giving a practice test… Having them write the word when they hear it. One of the words that I chose was smile… as soon as I said “next word is Smile.” The Lord hit me… How can you teach these kids smile when you are not evening smiling? How can you show Me when all they can see is the anger coming from you? Smile Nicole, all they want or need is someone to care about them. Someone to say good job.
Some days I feel like Jonah “Lord why me? Why am I here? Me teaching them Elevator is not going to tell them about Jesus.” It’s not about the words that get them saved or even if I do see them get saved. It’s simply saying hey…. My actions and the way I love God is going to be watched. They are going to see that there was something different about this foreigner teacher. She was always smiling… Everything I do I want to be doing it for the Lord and not for my own intentions. Their time in school might be the only time in their lives that they can see Jesus. The rest of the time they might only see rudeness and hatred all too often. Maybe when they are older they might look back and say, “I want what that teacher had, she was always smiling and she was always kind.” But I have Jesus and I love these kids with my whole heart. In the end these kids are the little light in my life. They always turn my day around with their smiles and their little jokes. I wouldn’t ask for another class.

A: I will give each of my students a hug and I will pray when I start to feel stress and anger sneaking into my actions.

Faith in My Own Hands

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John 19:30
So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.

This is such a powerful chapter… I get all kinds of emotions when reading it. Jesus went through all this torment for His people. And John 3:16 echoes in my mind when I read this section. “For God so loves the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Chapter 19 shows that come true… It shows the torment that Jesus, God’s only Son, had to go through on behalf of us. To save us… Why? Why would anyone die for a sinner like me? Why would anyone give their only son over to die? I grew up knowing this story, I grew up reading this every Easter… The thing is now, I can find out things on my own. I don’t have to listen to what people say. I can read the Bible and learn the truth on my own. Have the Lord tell me His reason. I don’t have to take the first answer that I hear.
People grow up believing the things that they hear. Their parents told them so it must be true. Wait… That is me…. I grew up with these stories. Now I am 20 and I can actually find the answers out myself. It’s not that when I was 19 or 18 I didn’t believe… Or that as soon has I turned 20 it makes me an adult now. What I am saying is that I need to learn the reasons behind the most common question about my faith. It’s been a long journey of taking my faith into my own hands. Not just listening to what my parents told, what my pastors have said, or the people around me tell me. It’s sitting and listening to the Lord, waiting for His still small voice. And knowing that “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” John 14:6
There is a season in your life when you are going to have to discover the answers to your own question. Stop listening to everyone around you and go read the Bible on your own.
I feel like this ended up having nothing to do with the verse but it’s where I went with it. Only the Lord knows.

A: I am going to read the book of John.