The Name of Jesus

Hey there 🙂 It’s been a while.

Quick update (because you know how much I love those): Since I last posted, I have been in three different places. Las Palmas, Gran Canaria; Santa Cruz, Tenerife; and now, Dakar, Senegal! Dakar is where I will be for the remainder of my time on board the Africa Mercy (probably). During our time in Las Palmas and Santa Cruz, the ship was under repair and there were a TON of major projects going on. Because God is good, every single one of the 60+ projects were completed successfully in time for us to sail.

We are now safely in Dakar! In just a few short weeks, our first patients will be on board receiving care. In the meantime, there is a lot of work going into the hospital, Hope Center, and Dental Clinic in preparation for our arriving patients.

I also have a bit of exciting news! After a lot of thought and prayer, I have extended my time on board the ship an additional two months. I will now be staying with the Africa Mercy for twelve months in total, which means I will have the opportunity to see an entire field service in action. I am so so SO excited about this and I cannot wait to see how God uses this time and what blessings and experiences will come through this.

With all of the changes and adjustments, life has been really crazy and busy here for me as well. It’s been a bit taxing physically, emotionally, and spiritually for me the last few weeks. I’ve been drained and exhausted in every way, but God is good. Every day, despite how weak I felt, He has continued to bless me and remind me that He is with me no matter what.

I think sometimes I limit myself to learning about God on the days I have a clear mind and lots of energy. On the days I feel tired, it often feels like it takes everything I have just to say a quick prayer for help. But God has been showing me that taking time to get to know him isn’t as exhausting as I make it out to be. Sometimes, yes, it means resting and just talking to Him, but it doesn’t take much energy to pick up my Bible and spend time listening to Him, either.

I learned this week that even when I don’t feel like doing anything- when I want to give up, taking the time to listen to and get to know my Father is worth it. I may feel empty. I may feel like I have nothing to say or offer Him. I may not feel like picking up my Bible or praying. But by spending time with Him, He is providing energy for me. He is giving me exactly what I need each day. He is filling my cup. And not only that, I’m getting to know Him in a deeper and more intimate way than I knew Him before.

This week, He has been teaching me about the power of His Name. We have been reading through Genesis as a community, and this week, many of the chapters also mentioned some of the different Names of the Lord. Discovering these Names and learning about the significance and power behind each one has been incredible.

When I felt overwhelmed, I learned that He is El-Roi, the God who sees me (Genesis 16:13). Even when different things cloud my vision and different things cause stress and anxiety, He sees it all. He sees me, He hears me, and He is with me.

When I felt weak, I learned that He is El-Shaddai – the God Almighty (Genesis 17:1). Every trouble, weakness, and fear is subject to the authority of my Father in heaven. He is more powerful than it all. His love conquers all.

When I felt powerless and like I had no voice, I learned that He is the King of Kings. Not only that, He reminded me that I am a daughter of the King. I am a princess: “A woman having sovereign power” and “a member of the royal family”. I am His.

When I didn’t know what to expect, I learned that He is my Provider. I may not know what’s coming next, but I can trust that He will provide for every one of my needs as it comes. He has a desire to bless me.

I learned this week about the many powerful Names of my Father. I learned that when I am exhausted, I can call on the Name of El-Roi, El-Shaddai, the King of Kings, and my Provider. No matter what, He will always be there.

I’m so grateful that even in the times life doesn’t seem to go the way I want it to, that God is so faithful. Not only that, but that He also wants so badly to bless me. He is so good, so loving, and so faithful. I can look towards tomorrow knowing that no matter what happens, I can trust Him. Maybe tomorrow will be stressful, maybe it will bring difficult challenges, maybe it will be the best day of my life – regardless, my Father is walking with me through it all.

Unrestrained Boldness

Quick update: We are currently in dry dock in the Canary Islands. This happens once every few years so the ship can undergo repairs and updates. Basically the entire ship was lifted out of the water, put on rollers, and rolled to a spot in ship yard where they will work on a bunch of things that wouldn’t be possible if it was in the water. This means we also have to climb this very rickety scaffolding in order to get on and off the ship (I will have amazing calf muscles by the time I leave from all those stairs).

There is a ton of construction going on in and around the ship, so it’s very noisy during the day. Also, we have limited electricity sooooooo no aircon… It took me about a week to get smart and buy a fan for my bedroom which is currently fixed at about 30° C. Very warm.

The ship community grew quite small right after the sail. All the families are staying off ship because it isn’t safe for the kiddos to be in ship yard with us. We do have a lot of new people on project teams for the duration of ship yard, though, so it’s been fun to meet some new friends!

Because of how small our group became, they have fewer community meetings and services on board, but we are all working through the book of Acts together through this month.

I’ll be honest, I’ve never read through Acts. I don’t think it would have been my first choice if I had picked the book to work through with everyone. BUT WOW. Guys, I’m only on chapter 6 (I’m way behind because I started late) and I honestly can’t believe I haven’t read through it before.

The POWER of the Holy Spirit blows my mind. In chapter 5, there are a few stories told and it says people were struck with the fear of the Lord when they heard of it then. I couldn’t help thinking, even now these stories are leaving me dumbfounded. How much incredible power is in these Holy Spirit encounters that it leaves people thousands of years later in absolute awe?

This morning, though, something I read left me almost in tears. In the beginning of Acts, the apostles are threatened by the high priest and his officials. They saw the power of the Holy Spirit in the apostles, saw the way it was changing people, and saw how many people were becoming united through this new faith, and they were scared. Everything they knew was being threatened.

However, again and again, it says the apostles boldly preached the gospel. No fear.

At one point, Peter and the apostles are arrested by the high priest and his officials and are brought before them. They are told again to stop preaching. Basically what happens next, is they decide it’s a bad idea to kill them, because they know that it can only go one of two ways. 1.) The apostles have started something themselves that will be disbanded as soon as they are killed, or 2.) The apostles actually are preaching the truth and by killing them, they will have waged war against God.

The high priest decides to play it safe. However, to show them he isn’t messing around, the apostles are brought in and severely beaten.

Here’s the part that hit me the hardest. After being severely beaten, threatened, and mocked, the apostles rejoice.

The apostles left there rejoicing, thrilled that God had considered them worthy to suffer disgrace for the name of Jesus. And nothing stopped them! They kept preaching every day in the temple courts and went from house to house, preaching the gospel of Jesus, God’s Anointed One!

Acts 5:41-42 (TPT)

Rejoicing.

Imagine being severely beaten and rejoicing about the fact that you were. I can’t even imagine what that would look like. Imagine being so filled with the Holy Spirit and so full of excitement because of what you know about the love of God that you are willing not only to endure something like that, but walk out the other side praising God because he found you worthy to go through it.

How many people would do that in today’s world?

I don’t know about you, but sometimes even things other people in the church say to me leaves me hurt and upset. This is what really hit me. As a church, are we really allowing ourselves to experience the power of the Holy Spirit and the love of God? We don’t face the same kind of persecution that the apostles faced. Not many of us would find ourselves in a situation where we would be severely beaten just for telling others that they are loved. But if we did, have we built a relationship with the Divine that would give us the power and courage to rejoice in all our suffering?

I don’t mean just being joyful through pain, I mean being overjoyed. So overjoyed knowing we are worthy to suffer a small fraction of the way he suffered for us.

What would it look like if the church as a whole, began to laugh with joy when the enemy presented us with sickness and pain? What would it look like if we smiled and wholeheartedly loved the people that mock us and talk about us behind our backs? What would it look like if we stopped living our lives fearful of being hurt, and lived our lives instead unconcerned about what happens and trusting God? What would it look like if we rejoiced and thanked God for EVERYTHING, good or bad.

We may not be facing a high priest; the possibility of being killed, stoned, or beaten; or a physical enemy; but we are still fighting a spiritual battle every day. The enemy is doing everything he can to strengthen his grip on this world.

But what if we rejoiced because we know we’ve already won?