It is the start of a fresh new year. We have a new baby set to arrive in April. We said goodbye to our oldest who will begin college in the U.S. this month. We also said goodbye to our only teammates, the Richlines, for their year long furlough, and will say hello to a new family that will minister with us for the year. Ray will begin preaching every week in Spanish, as well as taking over many responsibilities of the church plant. Three of our elementary age children will start their new school year in their local school in the fall (March) and the two teenagers will continue in home school. We are excited and nervous as we take on new challenges this year.
As I (Michele) look back over the year, I can see through the trials that I encountered, a theme–humility– that seemed to be woven throughout. From arriving in Uruguay and not knowing how to do much, to being crazy busy trying to get kids settled into being fully-immersed in a Spanish speaking school and weekly activities, to having our home under construction until April, to making life work in a very different and sometimes difficult place, to being nearly bedridden-sick for the three months of my pregnancy (and the messy house and mediocre meals to go with it), this was not a year where I look back to be amazed at my abilities as a super mom and super missionary. Rather it was a year of being brought back to the reality that “when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor. 12:10).
As we look at the start of a new year, we see a busy schedule ahead. Thankfully, I have gotten into a routine with food buying and meal making, laundry and school routines. I am far ahead of where I was last year at this time. But I won’t lie, life here takes longer. And so I am prayerfully choosing a theme that blends well with humility–the theme of being “yielded”.
What does it mean to be yielded? I think of Mary, when she was told by the angel Gabriel that she would bear the Messiah, her response was to yield to this news of life changes that she had neither anticipated nor could understand. Her response was to say, “I am the Lord’s handmaiden, may it be done to me as you have said” (Luke 1:38). Although she had a very unique path, her response exemplifies the attitude of the finite creature to the Loving Creator. This verse has long expressed the desire of my heart. I desire to be willing to yield to the Lord’s plans, which are so often different that what I would expect, and what I would orchestrate if I were in charge. It means to accept the circumstances which demand that I do a mediocre job at the tasks placed before me when I long to be and do the best. It means being willing to do the little things that please the Lord but aren’t noticed by others. Being “yielded” means being willing to be a fool for Christ, to make His values my values, rather than making sure the watching world is amazed at my accomplishments.
Being yielded to God’s will is what makes lessons in humility a sweet experience of worship and communion with Jesus rather than a tough experience of being humiliated and brought low. It is only in worshiping the great Triune God that the sacrifices I make cease to be a burden and begin to feel like ways I can honor and serve the One who gave so much for me. And it is through prayer that I can lift up all the things I can’t control to the One who holds all things under His control. A yielded heart is a heart full of worship and committed to prayer.
So as I look ahead I see some upcoming challenges: giving birth in a hospital instead of having a home birth, living in new country with different customs, ministering in a place with so few Christians, helping my children settle in and feel more comfortable in Spanish, supporting Ray as he takes on a lot of responsibility with the church plant. I hope to meet these challenges with an attitude of being “yielded,” knowing the love my Heavenly Father has for me, and that I can trust that He is the One caring for me. I am not super mom. I am not a super missionary. But I serve a powerful God who is at work through this weak vessel, and who accepts and treasures the tiny attempts I make to please Him, and graciously forgives me in Christ when I miss the mark. It is my hope and desire for 2016 that I can grow in my ability to yield to the Lord’s will and direction, and that in spite of whatever frailty I have, that the Lord will be glorified through me.