Life is Precious….live it abundantly!

2010 October 23
by Cindy House

Before I moved to Malawi, I believed that I lived my life led by the Spirit.   Since moving here and living life each day by the Spirit’s leading, I have learned how structured and sanitized I was living out my life before.  The sweetest parts of the day, back home, were when I could see the hand of God working and know that he had me at that place, at that moment for His purpose and I was blessed to be part of some divine exchange.  Maybe praying for a coworker or encouraging a patient who was suffering or even possibly loving someone who was not easy to love and I have to say I even felt a little pleased with me, when those moments happened.  I knew it was God who had given me the ability to love the unlovely but I certainly gave myself credit for being obedient.  There is nothing wrong with that, right?  Well, there is something wrong with that because I am not the glorious, holy, perfect, all knowing creator of this entire universe who sent His son into the timeline of earth, which is temporary, to give me life abundantly, which is eternal.  Living here, in this country, I can see that I have so much to learn about living abundantly.  In America, I had a daily schedule and a weekly schedule that kept me moving smoothly through time for the most part.  Safe and structured is the best way to describe it.  The truth is, I was WAY too much in control of the schedule myself leaving little room for my life to be led by the Spirit, and that control actually gave me a sense of security.  I knew what to expect most of the day and what was coming tomorrow. 

As I began to release my plans, my future, my family, and my possessions to God in obedience to His call to move to Malawi, it became clear that I would have to learn how to truly live by the Spirit’s leading.  With so many questions unanswered every day, I had to lean in to the Holy Spirit and trust Him like never before in my life.  I had gone through periods of uncertainty, loss and failure which required this kind of living before, but I always worked very hard to get things back “under control” so I could feel secure.  Do you know that feeling?  “Whew, I finally have life back on a routine again and can relax.  I know what tomorrow will be like for the most part and so, with God’s help, I can handle any surprises that come.”  Well, I won’t say that I have overcome that mindset completely, but the Lord has made a lot of progress with me here.  The first few months here have been joyful, painful, confusing and enlightening as the Lord molds me and teaches me to trust in Him for everything. 

Daily life here is a series of unexpected events.  You plan what you believe you are to do for this day and then you walk with the Spirit and experience the reality of the day.  The Malawians have a completely different mindset than I do and I am in constant field training trying to get an understanding of their way of life.  Some of their ways put me in awe as I see them accept everything that comes along in daily life.  It has been so challenging for me to carry out daily activities with so many diversions and false starts.  I have cried out to God so many times, “Lord, teach me how to just rest in your care and accept that I don’t know what today will hold.”  Until you experience life that is so uncertain every day, you do not realize how much you live life “under control” by your own means and your own plans. 

Malawians have a phrase that is used so often and they know, full well, the truth of this statement.  “Life is precious”, they say.  When we hold prayer meetings with the staff, I always hear thanks expressed to God for life today because life is precious.  When I first came to Malawi I marveled at the simplicity of that prayer of thanks and realized that I did not say those words to God often enough.  I take life for granted because I am healthy and I have the means to feed myself today.  Death is not something that I think about or accept as a part of daily life, but here within this culture it is thought about and it is part of daily life.  Many of the plans that I have for a particular day are rescheduled because the people I am to meet with are going to a funeral.  This has happened so many times now that I cannot recall the number.  People I know have died or have lost a baby, a sister, a brother, or a parent.  In the 4 months that I have lived here I have come to realize that life is much more precious than I knew before and I had better make good use of my time and that means to live it led by the Spirit.  In my life, I have lost loved ones and experienced grief and spent time afterwards loving more, caring more and reaching out more.  Then I have slowly slipped back in to a lifestyle that seems to say we will be here tomorrow and we will have more time to do the things that we plan to do.   Maybe, I was a bit wiser and moved further down that path of understanding that life is precious, but nothing like the way it resonates in my daily life now.

About a month ago I was driving here in town with a carload of our staff just returning from a village and I saw in my rearview mirror a minibus struggling to brake before it hit me in the rear end.  Bruce was in the very back seat and he saw it too, and we both held our breath as the minibus managed to stop at the last second.  I was trembling inside with the adrenaline rush and Bruce just looked up at me and laughed and said, “Life is precious.”  That statement has rung back in my mind over and over since then.

This past Thursday I returned to Esther’s House after being in another village riding out a storm under the thatch overhang of a hut, only to find out that we had experienced much more from that storm than we thought.  We had smiled and enjoyed seeing the Lord bless the ground with much needed water there in the village. 

What I found upon returning to Esther’s House took my breath away.  The roof over the girls dormitory had been peeled back over the back wall of the campus like a tin can opened by the mighty gusts of wind from the afternoon storm.  My very first thought was, “Life is precious.”  The violence of that wind could have been devastating to any one of the precious lives of our children or staff.  God choose to spare those lives.  They are in His hands and under His care.  The disaster of the damage of the building was overwhelming to me in that first moment.  But because of the Spirit’s presence, I was able to lean in to His glorious arms and tell Him “thank you for life today, Lord, and I trust you and know you saw this coming and you have a plan.”   I did have a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes but I had a Savior to lean on and experience life abundantly in that moment.  His guidance led me to the first steps that needed to be taken, who to contact, what to collect in the way of tools, and immediate action began.  Before nightfall, we had the part of the roof that was hanging over the wall removed and the campus secured with the girls moved into the boy’s dormitory and all parties in safe housing for the night. We had also already had a visit by four staff members of the German orphanage that is in a nearby area, who had launched into support mode and had a plan of how to assist us and relieve some of the burden upon us. Early the next morning, we had more support by a local pastor and three young men with him who helped our staff remove the damaged part of the roof completely, before the sun made the tin roof too hot to work on.  After the work was complete, we all gathered in the chapel to give thanks to God for His protection and to ask for His provision to repair our structure.  What a sweet time of prayer we had and a time for me to encourage others for doing “even unto the least of these”.  

In the late afternoon that same day another strong storm moved in over Esther’s House and I had to trust God to keep us safe under the roof we had for shelter. I looked out at the wind and rain blowing across the campus and thought to myself “Life Is Precious”. 

Lord, let me grow in the understanding of your will, your ways and your guidance and as I learn let me follow you keeping in step with your Spirit .

 In Galatians 5:25 Paul says, “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”  He is in the middle of talking to us about the difference in the acts of our sinful nature and the fruit of the Spirit.  We think of all the heinous sins mentioned in the text and say we are not guilty of such as that.  But the truth is that our human nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit so we have to KEEP in step with the Spirit or our human nature will be what leads us and gives us a very false sense of security.  Pray for the Spirit to “keep me” in step with Him.   Without the Spirits consuming presence I cannot do anything at all.

I pray that this blog blesses you and that the Spirit keeps you.  Life is precious….don’t miss out on it’s abundance.

3 Responses leave one →
  1. Kim permalink
    October 23, 2010

    Thank you so much Cindy for reminding me to release control and to stay in step with the Holy Spirit. Your words have been a huge reminder to me this morning that life is precious. Please tell the staff hello for me. Praying this morning that God will give you peace in the midst of the storms there. Drew says hello.
    Kim and Drew

  2. Sharon Doyle permalink
    October 23, 2010

    Cindy, you bless my heart. Many of your statements hit me seriously. We may not be perfect but isn’t it wonderful our loving Lord forgives and leads us on to the next step he has for us.

  3. rich mason permalink
    October 23, 2010

    Hi Sis! Drew spoke at men’s link this morning and commented on your blog. Thank you for your faithfulness. You bless my life.

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