On July 14, 1983—a crisp, cold winter morning—my husband and I arrived in Chile for our first term of service, with six suitcases, seven barrels, a crate, and an 18-month-old daughter in tow. Sometimes, the devil tries hard to convince me I’ve spent 40 years tracing circles in the wilderness, but I recognize his lies. That’s when I rehearse aloud the things I know are true.
Whether or not it always seems true, I know we are wanted and valued in our sphere of ministry. The next afternoon we attended a welcome party with the local missionaries, national pastors, and their families, who became our coworkers over the next four decades. How kind and patient they all were with the not-quite-25-year-olds who spoke Spanish like toddlers. We still treasure the red plastic copihues (national flowers) given to us that day and recall our first strange taste of empanadas (meat or cheese turnovers).
Two weeks later, we started on our way south to our first assignment in the stormy Chiloé Islands. Later we moved north again to sunny Linares in the fertile central valley, then on to a decades-long stint in the capital with its smoggy skies and multiple opportunities. And now, in the near desert of Coquimbo, I also know it’s true that God wants me here. However ineffective I may feel from time to time, I am “called and chosen (and faithful,” I hope [Rev. 17:14]).
“We cannot always trace God’s hand, but we can always trust God’s heart.” –Charles Spurgeon
As we mark these 40 years in Chile, I’d like to encourage you with some of the things I know are true: verses, maxims, and thoughts that have kept me going here decade after decade through the good times and the bad. Oh, yes, plenty of those. Years lean and luxurious, moments of devastation and jubilation, wilderness and wonder.
A clear, sharp mind is surely the most important tool we have. We must defend this treasure from all that would destroy and degrade it. Below I list some of the small pearls of advice—daily goals, you might say—that I often meditate on during my morning quiet time:
- Praise God.
- Praise others.
- Be thankful.
- Be positive.
- Smile. Laugh, too!
- Really listen.
- Practice self-discipline.
- Look through God’s eyes.
- Invest in eternity.
- Make a lasting impact.
- Shine for Jesus.
- Notice the needs of others. Encourage, pray, love.
- Serve through the ministry of presence—showing up, being there.
“Your mind is a garden, your thoughts are the seeds. You can grow flowers or you can grow weeds.” –Unknown
Now, many days, I fail to put these things I know are true into practice. But focusing on the principles leads to making them personal over time. What little flowers from your garden would you like to share?
Just the other morning I read about how “people try to put a shroud over truth” (Rom. 1:18, MSG) and “exchange the truth of God for a lie” (Rom. 1:25, ESV). We often hide from the truth, deny the truth, sell out the truth. How about living from the truth? For today, I will claim and proclaim these things I know are true:
- Jesus loves me, this I know, for the whole Bible tells me so.
- God is for me (Rom. 8:31).
- God‘s grace is sufficient for every situation (2 Cor. 8:9; 2 Cor. 12:9-10).
- God is working all things together for good (Rom. 8:28-29).
- God wants me to have abundant life (Jn. 10:10b).
- The devil wants to defeat, control, and use me. Whatever steals my confidence or joy, kills my work, or destroys my peace—that thought is NOT from God (Jn. 10:10a).
- God is just, loving, and kind. He is NOT blind or forgetful (Heb. 6:10).
- God gives good gifts (Mt. 7:11; Jas. 1:17).
- Usually I will see what God is doing only through the rearview mirror (I Cor. 13:12).
- The reward lies at the finish line, not in the middle of the race (Heb. 12:1-2).
- Enjoy everything! Just remember only Jesus and heaven will give lasting satisfaction (Eccl. 11:9).
On my grayest days, I’m repeating those verses all day long. I need to review the list frequently, weekly perhaps, although I don’t always. And I add new kernels of truth as often as God impresses them on my mind.
My friends, sometimes we just have to recommit to those things we know are true, no matter how deceptive and delightful sounding the lies Satan concocts and mocks us with.
“Jesus sees our primary war against the devil as a fight to believe truth over lies.” –John Mark Comer, Live No Lies
The habit of writing down intriguing and thought-provoking quotes in a specific notebook or journal (or computer file) also helps me remember. Granted, these sayings aren’t precise Scripture. But “a word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver” (Prov. 25:11, NKJV). Cull through your reading and collect these golden nuggets. Frame them in silver and follow their advice (when it’s truth).
Today, as I reminisce about my four decades in Chile….
I’ve highlighted some of these nail-on-the-head maxims:
- “This is what the past is for! Every experience God gives us, every person He puts in our lives is the perfect preparation for the future that only he can see.” –Corrie ten Boom
- “Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little.” –Edmund Burke
- “Our days of pain are the building blocks of our character.” –John Mark Comer, The Ruthless Elimination of
- “Write so heaven will be different.” –Lee Roddy
- “If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.” –Mother Teresa
- “Stop cursing the darkness and light some candles.” –Anonymous
- “Every time your heart is broken, a doorway cracks open to a world full of new beginnings and new opportunities.” –Patti Roberts
- “One prayer can accomplish more than a thousand plans.” –Mark Batterson, The Circle Maker
- “If you get, give. If you learn, teach.” –Maya Angelou
- “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and could say, I used everything you gave me.” –Erma Bombeck
- “It is never too late to be who you might have been.” –George Eliot
- “Most of our problems are not circumstantial. Most of our problems are perceptual.” –Mark Batterson, In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day
- “We are all warriors in our own time.” –Lisa Wingate, The Prayer Box
- “Crowns aren’t made of rhinestones. They are made of discipline, determination, and a hard-to-find alloy called courage.” –Anonymous
And my top five jewels of truth:
- “Burning hearts are not nourished by empty heads.” –R. C. Sproul
- “An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered.” –G. K. Chesterton
- “Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.” –C. S. Lewis
- “I’m not afraid of failure; I’m afraid of succeeding at things that don’t matter.” –William Carey
- “All you have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to you.” –J. R. R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring
Do any of the above strike you as things you know are true? Please share your favorite advice, scriptures, and quotes. Every one of us can use all the inspiration we can get.
Throw copihues and send empanadas to nibble on. You’d bestow a true blessing as I celebrate 40 years of this challenging mission.