For The Joy…

Upon first arriving in Thailand, I knew without a doubt that God had led me here and I felt confident of my calling and mission. Maybe it was over-confidence that left me unprepared for the immediate trials I faced in my first months abroad.

Several stressful situations back at home soon had me questioning and doubting my choice to come to Thailand. Had I misinterpreted God’s leading or timing? It surprises me how quickly I moved from complete confidence to questioning and fear. My despair brought me to my knees immediately. God heard my cries for help and was faithfully preparing a special event to help me through this time. My second Sabbath in Thailand, we attended a camp meeting for the entire Isan region at a nearby national park. Although I was doing my best to enter into the rest and fellowship of the Sabbath, this particular Sabbath found me at a low point emotionally. After the sermon, the whole congregation drove to the nearby lake and we witnessed the baptism of four new believers. The lake was small and murky with a fairly steep incline down into the water where the pastor awaited. The first to be baptized was a young man, followed by a young woman and then a middle-aged woman. The last and fourth baptism I wasn’t expecting. While I had observed an older woman standing up during the church service to be welcomed into fellowship, I had supposed that due to her age and physical condition she would be baptized at a different, safer location. This new believer in Christ was one of the sweetest little old ladies I had ever seen. Worn by the years, her spine was so far bent forward that when she walked, she was almost parallel to the floor. I watched speechless as she confidently walked down the embankment and into the water with a few people assisting her. As she turned around to face the pastor and I glimpsed her face I could not contain the flow of tears that began to run down my face. On her face was the biggest smile one could imagine. Her eyes were bright and her countenance rapturous. Here she was, nearing the end of her life yet experiencing the joys that the discovery of eternal life and a loving Father bring. Hebrews 12:2 immediately began replaying in my head. “…for the joy that was set before him [He] endured the cross…” Christ endured the cross for this dear woman’s joy. In that moment, I realized that God was calling me to make His joy my own. God was nudging me to open my eyes to possibilities even greater than the miracle of this one woman’s testimony. There are 68.86 million people in Thailand, the majority of whom live every day without the hope and joy of eternal salvation. As I looked over the lake that morning, fresh tears sprang to my eyes. I began to envision the faces of multitudes who would one day be radiating the joy and hope of a changed life. The cross I felt I was bearing by being distant from situations back home was but a grain of sand in comparison with the priceless significance of eternity. Christ assured me that He was back at home with those I cared for, but that He needed me here in Thailand. He needed me to catch His vision and press forward to that joy. With tears and brokenness I accepted His invitation and by resting in the arms of my Creator and Father I found peace.

I know that imminent challenges and trials lie ahead, but with my eyes focused on the joy before me and my heart resting in His hands, I am confident that the work will move forward in a powerful way here in Thailand. There is again no question in my mind that I am exactly where God wants me to be.

Comments

Oh Karina! What faith, What power, What encouragement these words bring to my heart!  … because I know how painful the situations back home really are…I want to never forget your words, “The cross I felt I was bearing by being distant from situations back home was but a grain of sand in comparison with the priceless significance of eternity.”  I pray we can all get a glimpse of that eternal joy together.  Love you, Tia Luz

By Luz on December 28 2017, 12:24 am

I am behind on reading your last couple of posts, Karina, but am so blessed by your witness in this one. Praise God for your renewed confidence in being where you are supposed to be. Thank you for sharing your heart and your walk with Jesus! You are a blessing!

By Peggy on January 13 2018, 7:17 pm

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