On Our Knees

It has been a week since we arrived back in Tamatave, Madagascar and it feels as though we have never left.  However, we did leave and the time in between has been quite the journey.

The last few weeks of our time in Durban were faced with one delay after another.  With work projects coming to an end in dry dock we found more damage.  With the damage diagnosed we ran into complications.  With the complications resolved we found ourselves at anchor.

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Though the ship is at anchor and we are delayed.  Though the hospital is closed and we are canceling surgeries. Though the nurses are reassigned and we are ready to leave, yet I will exalt in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.

We were desperately trying to get back to Madagascar. There were patients returning and new ones arriving. We knew God was going to do amazing things in these amazing people’s lives and yet we were still not there.

What was the constant through this all?

That we as a crew REMAIN on our knees before the Lord.

We may never know why circumstances landed us at anchor for three days but sure enough that is where we ended up. Yes, we know on the surface why we had to raise that black buoy up the mast and lower the anchors down but I personally believe there is much more going on.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities,against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Ephesians 6:12 (NIV)

It is not enough that we come before the Lord with our requests and pleas for help.  We must stay there for we cannot fight this battle alone.

I am fully convinced that this field service is going to long.  It is going to be hard.  It is going to be a fight.

The wonderful patients in Madagascar often bring with them more spiritual baggage than we could ever imagine.  The only way we will make it to the end of this field service is to remain on our knees in the presence of the Lord.  He must be our source of strength in times of trials and peace.

Holdfast

This is a term that came to me one morning as I was praying while we sat at anchor.  I wasn’t sure what it meant or why it was lodged in my mind.

Hold fast: something to which something else may be firmly secured (Mirriam-Webster).  Holdfast: a root-like structure that anchors aquatic sessile organism, such as seaweed etc. to the substrate. (wikipedia)

Either way, this word implies being anchored and that is exactly where we sat.

What is the ship anchored in and what is our anchor?  Unless the Lord is our anchor and we are secure in his Word – the substrate that gives us nutrients – we will fail.

This field service needs to be approached on our knees, tackled on our knees and completed on our knees.

Thank God we have arrived.

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Last Sunday the sun rose, the Malagasy flag was raised and we sailed into port, hopefully in his presence, to accomplish all he has set before us.

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if it’s not one thing its a propeller

It was roughly a year ago that I arrived back on the Africa Mercy in Tenerife with the expectation of sailing to Benin in five days.  Well as you may remember or can read here not only did we not sail in five days we did not sail to Benin at all.  Roughly two months later we arrived in Madagascar to begin an incredible field service in which we saw the Lord move in amazing ways through incredible crew, day crew and patients.

Well as it is often said, the only thing that is constant in Mercy Ships is change.  Yes we are still sailing to Madagascar but seeing as we were scheduled to set sail on 3 August and are still in a dry dock berth with the propeller and shaft disconnected we are once more in a period of delay.

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Surrounded by frustrated nurses and other medical professionals who are again eagerly waiting to begin the work they are so passionate about we tend to wonder why.  Why are we once again stuck when all we want to do is serve the Lord who has called us here?

But where is here?

I was sitting in church on Sunday and the pastor was preaching from some of my favorite verses in Jeremiah 29.  A lot of people will know Jeremiah 29:11 by heart.  They have seen it on an inspirational greeting card or as part of a graduation message “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”  However, the verses that precede this have become some of my favorite in the Old Testament and are often overlooked when quoting verse eleven.

The Israelites have been uprooted from their home and exiled in Babylon for 70 years.  While the normal reaction would be to sit and pray to be returned home or to remain in a small community waiting, God commands them to invest in their new home.

This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”

Jeremiah 29:4-7

While I am not saying we are in exile and we certainly will not be here for 70 years, at least I hope not, we are in an unexpected location apart from what we perceived our calling to be.  God knows what he is doing.  He knew that we would be in Durban for the next few weeks and I am sure he has a mission for us here just as much as we thought we had a mission in Madagascar.

Sometimes I have such a vision of what I think I am supposed to be doing that I miss what God is actually asking me to do.  I miss that he is saying just surrender to me here.  Be with me here.  Meet with me here.  Be a light to the people here.  Be a light to those around you whether they are crew members, DORMAC workers in a Durban shipyard, the people of Durban or the people of Madagascar.

Why am I limiting God’s call on my life to a specific job in a specific location?  No I don’t think I am supposed to build a house here in Durban but I am called to invest wherever I am for however long that season may last.  One of the most crucial lessons I have learned in recent years is to bloom where I am planted.  Right now I am planted in Durban.  Yes I’d rather be sailing on the ocean or securely tied to the dock in Toamasina, Madagascar but this is where I am and my attitude is the only thing I can change about the situation.  So for the next few weeks or until whenever we arrive in Madagascar I will chose to meet with God here and invest here in my current location.

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