"Put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand." ~Ephesians 6:13
"As you can see, this army is marching, but there will be times when it camps. The camping is as important as the marching. It is the time for planning, training, and sharpening skills and weapons...Until now when my army has camped, most of the time has been wasted. Just as I only lead My people forward with a clear objective, so it is that when I call My army to camp, there is a purpose. The strength of the army that marches will be determined by the quality of its camp. When it is time to stop and camp for a season, it is to teach My people My ways. An army is an army whether it is in battle or at peace. You must learn how to camp, how to march, and how to fight. You will not do any one of these well unless you do them all well." Rick Joyner's "The Vision", Jesus speaking
It is a strange season of life. The past few years of life in America seem like they've been filled with dangerous prayers and info dumps. No matter how I tried, it didn't seem like I could move forward. Over the past few years, all that has seemed clear is how lacking I am.
My attempts to speak truth about God--truth that is meant to set free--didn't turn people towards God, but towards themselves, so they reacted with shame or anger.
I found that I was so affected by the environment that I was in that I couldn't change it for the better, only react to it.
My persistent sense that people don't like me or understand me has caused me to hide from them when I should be loving them.
I was so fearful of affecting people and places in a bad way that I refused to risk being the one to decide, or the one to stand out, even if I was the one who had the most experience and should be stepping forward boldly because of what God has shown me.
Rather than carrying the goodness of the mission field back home by just BEING the truth that I had learned on the field, I hid the truth--except to use it as a weapon--attacking loved ones for not already being transformed into the part of the Kingdom that I was longing for, and never willing to actually SHOW them what that truth was.
Especially as I stepped into a marriage relationship, it became obvious that most of what I was seeking in life wasn't to love God or others, but just to be loved myself.
All of this adds up to one sin, and there was something freeing about being able to be on my face before God one Sunday at Bethel and say to Him: I am lukewarm. My love for You is so shallow. Please, please, make me passionate for you! Not in outside actions, but from the inside out.
I don't know that much has changed this time by journeying across an ocean. Fukushima is more "on the edge" than Tokyo, and there aren't easy ways to jump into ministry. Our church is a small, Lutheran church with about nine regular members, mostly over the age of 60, and then us, four foreigners in our 20s and 30s. There are a few precious moments when the people here open up and share something that feels real, but mostly the city feels busy. Not in the rushing way like Tokyo, but in a rural: we do our work, not talk. I feel sometimes like we are church planters who are missing the defined vision of being church planters. There is, as of yet, no vision to get lost in and borrow passion from. The passion can only come from knowing Jesus.
Yet, it is not a time for sitting and resting. Over and over again, it seems that I come back to this idea: just stand.
Stand in choosing faith over fear.
Stand in choosing love over self-protection.
Stand in seeking God in all things, and stand by guarding the truth that knowing Him is the treasure that can be found no matter what the circumstances.
Stand in worship.
Stand in thanksgiving.
Stand in joy that is founded in God, not the situation I'm in.
Stand in seeking truth and speaking truth in love.
Stand in serving people and submitting to authorities in order to choose humility with my actions.
Stand in praying without ceasing.
Stand in hope, both of God's ability to bring life to the present, and in the goodness of heaven that is coming.
Stand no matter what any other person, Christian or not, is doing or tells me to do.
I don't know when the time to march will come again. But it seems to be a season for stocking up oil in the lamps, waiting for when we'll see our Bridegroom, and making ready for Him.