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Eating Elephants

This week, we met with Mark Biddell for our one month debrief.  He bought us ice cream, and we asked him our questions.  A couple of the girls admitted feelings of burn out, to which Mark responded “You can only eat an elephant one bite at a time.”  It took everything in me not to burst into a mixture of laughter and tears.
            In my conversations with God this week, I have been questioning the efficacy of my ministry here.  I know that I know that I KNOW that God sent me here for a purpose, but ministering to bar girls does not necessarily bear the tangible fruit that I selfishly desire.  We are constantly exposed instead to a deluge of sin and masked hurt.  God spoke through Mark and pierced my heart.
            I am prone to take on elephants.  Whether it’s a small bird that’s fallen from its nest or a homeless woman needing a place to stay for the night, I have been known to take on the burdens of the world despite my better judgment at times. Throughout high school, my dad frequently reminded me, “Austen, the only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time,” but I never listened.
            This season, I am learning that the nature of true love does not have expectations nor conditions, instead it constantly gives of itself.  Whether I am treated with respect, hatred, or apathy, I am called to keep giving in love.  In spite of the storm raging on Bangla Road, I am convicted to keep my eyes on my King and to rejoice in His affection for me. 
            Last week, God asked me to surrender my ambition.  After seeing my Mamaw in the face of an old woman peddling flowers, he asked me to let her be enough.  Uncertain of God's intention, I smiled at the woman and sat down beside her on the curb of Bangla Road, as the crowds milled around us.  I touched her shoulder and told her “Soai” (‘beautiful’).  The interaction lasted a matter of seconds, but God asked me to let that woman be my purpose.  If God called me to Thailand for 4 months, so that for 7 seconds, his precious daughter would know that someone sees her and values her, then that has to be enough for me because that is the nature of His precious love.
            This week, I returned to Anne (I requested her name the second night that I saw her), and God gave me dinner for her on Thursday night.  I rejoice that My Savior’s love is tender and gentle like Anne’s spirit.  If the whole purpose for my life was to bring Anne into Her Father’s healing arms, then that has to be enough…it’s more than enough because Christ lived like that, and He continues to love me like that.

“How can I describe the Kingdom of God? What story should I use to illustrate it? It is like a mustard seed planted in the ground.  It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of all garden plants; it grows long branches and birds can make nests in its shade.” –Mark 4:30-32

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