By Mommy Emily
I spent the greater portion of my life trying to be successful. I thought it was what we were supposed to do, as humans. But worse than that—I thought success was the mark of a blessed Christian.
If God loves you He’ll bless you, says the Prayer of Jabez and North America’s favorite verse, Jeremiah 29:11. His desire is to prosper us, not to harm us—to give us hope and a future.
Just look at all of those megachurches, with their million-dollar sanctuaries. Look at all of the bestselling, Jesus-loving authors and speakers.
But then there are the faithful pastors we serve in Africa who don’t have megachurches, who suffer heartache and setbacks, who can’t even afford to send their own children to school, who do the right thing, who say the right prayers, who believe, and yet – know the anguish of Job.
At some point in my life, prior to starting The Lulu Tree, I realized Christianity had become a magic wand instead of a humble posture. I was waving it over my existence expecting miracles instead of believing in the miracle that was my existence.
Here are the lies I was believing – lies we all struggle with, as a Church Body:
- Bigger is better.
No; bigger is not always better. In fact, the Bible says small is good. Small is the only way to get into the kingdom of heaven. We are to become like a child. A child is defenseless, dependent. A child has no “status” in today’s world, and a child doesn’t strive, but rather, dwells. “Unless you become like one of these,” Jesus says, “you will not enter the kingdom.”
- God’s blessing is tangible.
The Beatitudes tell us that Blessed are the poor, blessed are the meek, blessed are those who grieve, blessed are those who hunger and thirst, blessed are the pure in heart–these blessings have nothing to do with physical or material blessings, and everything to do with us entering into eternal life NOW by knowing Christ fully.
- The more the merrier.
Jesus had 12 disciples. At the cross, He had one. He purposely said hard things so that the rest of the crowds would leave. He purposely tried NOT to get people to follow Him, to test their authenticity. We live in a world addicted to numbers but the truth is, God sees the one. He sees the one no one else sees. He doesn’t want mass, He wants devotion and worship and a sold-out heart. And He’s not fooled by man’s empty words.
- God helps those who help themselves.
When God tells us to become like a child, He doesn’t mean become like a child emotionally but make sure you’ve got life insurance and pension and your pantry is stocked. No, He means, seek first the kingdom of heaven and all of these things–the food, the future, clothes–will be added unto you. He wants to take care of us, while we devote ourselves to Him. And it will probably mean appearing foolish to the rest of the world.
- You are what you make of yourself.
There’s a lot of pressure to speak up, to be assertive, to make your name known or you’ll get lost in a sea of pixels. But Jesus says the last shall be first. Despite being God, He made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, and became obedient to death–and not just death, but a cursed death, on a cross. He trusted God to glorify Him, even as He became nothing. We are called to do the same.
- Suffering is a sign of failure.
As a North American culture, we have become adverse to any kind of pain. If we begin to get uncomfortable, we pop a pill. If we struggle with depression or discouragement, or if we encounter a terrible diagnosis, we rush to therapy or to the doctor instead of first going to the Father and asking Him what He wants us to learn through this. God uses suffering for our good. We carry around within us the death of Christ; and we will never know the power of Christ’s resurrection if we don’t enter first into that suffering.
- Time is money.
We serve the almighty dollar. We get offended if we’re paid less than we think we deserve, and we secretly look down on the poor, offering them our “leftovers” and our “pity”. Jesus commands us not to serve both God and money. He told his disciples to take nothing with them on their journey, for “even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid. You are worth more than many sparrows,” (Matt. 10:30-31) and He warns us against all kinds of greed. “A man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” (Luke 12:14)
- If it feels good, do it.
We are big on praying for answers, but not big on waiting for them. We figure if we pray about something, it’s been heard and blessed. But God so often asks us to wait for His timing, and this hurts. It’s so hard, to be patient, when you want something now. And the world, and the prosperity gospel, teach us to seize opportunity and chase after our dreams. But the Bible says, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart,” (Psalm 37:4) which means–become pliable to the Lord, submit yourself to Him and then, He will give you the desires of your heart. Know why? Because His desires will have become your desires, not the other way around.
- Believe in yourself and anything is possible.
No, rather, Scripture tells us we are like dust. We are nothing, and Jesus is everything. “God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him.” (1 Corinthians 1).
- You can only trust what you can see.
Our very faith depends on the unseen, friends. True value and success cannot be measured, it will not be witnessed or grasped until we reach heaven. Look at Hebrews 11. Consider the spiritual leaders who “39 were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, 40 since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.” They never received what they were promised, and yet they believed until the end, because they knew life wasn’t about them. They knew they were but a thread in the beautiful tapestry of faith God was weaving through his people.
We’ve lost this collective sense of story. We’re all independently trying to make a mark. What would happen if we lay our lives down for one another, for the greater story? For the gospel?
I spent my childhood thinking the point of life was to become an adult. Now I’m spending my adulthood trying to become like a child.
Because that’s where the pearl is.
Praise and Prayers
- Please pray for the upcoming trip to Uganda, as a small team from North America travels to spend time with directors and Lulu Tree family there. Pray for provision, traveling mercies, and a sweet time of fellowship and vision casting.
- Pray for the upcoming Mama Kit Outreach, that lives would be saved and many would come to know Jesus as their savior.
- Praise God that director Joel is recovering from Malaria!
- Please continue to pray for provision for the provision of a complete fence around the School of Hope.
- Please continue to pray for Auntie Loy’s health.
- Praise God that the mirco-loan program in Uganda continues to grow, and that loan recipients and their families are being knit into the Lulu Tree family.
- Praise God for the provision of tires for the tractor, which will allow for planting in the coming season!
- Please continue to pray for pastor training in Sierra Leone, that many will be raised up as powerful leaders of the faith.
- Pray as preparations are made to plan and build the new church in Kamasaralee.
- Praises that the children at Bethel Home continue to thrive, and have received school uniforms!
- Pray for Pastor Sonnel, Mummy Christiana and the children at Bethel Home as they continue to bond as a new family, as well as the orphans and families caring for them in the surrounding villages.