At least every 4 months or so, I get discouraged in ministry. And so I NEED these occasional trips to Ukraine to keep me focused. Whenever I come here, I am reminded of WHAT I am called to do and WHO has called me to do it.
As I take time to evaluate the source of my occasional discouragement, I see that it is always other people. Sinful people, just like me. Just being honest here but I generally find that people do not live up to my expectations. The children we serve do not disappoint me. God certainly does not disappoint me. But people; well, they often do.
And when that happens, I begin to take on burdens I was never called to carry. And I always fail, of course.
God has given us at Grace to Ukraine a specific task: take care of the spiritual and physical needs of the orphaned and poor in Ukraine. When I am doing that, there is success. I am obeying. I am fulfilling my calling, and God is glorified.
When I go beyond that, and take up a burden not given to me, I crumble beneath the weight of it all. I simply can not insure that there are no failed adoptions. I can not guarantee that a child will not get their hopes up of being adopted and then be rejected and heart broken yet again. I can not find families for every orphaned child. I can not. I can not. I CANNOT!
But God CAN!
We are broken people. All of us. Including me. I will disappoint others. And they will disappoint me. We, none of us, will ever live up to each other's expectations. And if we keep our eyes on each other, what others are doing, and not doing, then we will get discouraged. Not maybe. Not sometimes. But for certain. Always.
And so I come to Ukraine. I look into these eyes and I remember my calling. I remember that God Himself has spoken and said: pure and undefiled religion before ME is this: visit orphans and widows in their distress, and keep yourself unstained by the world. Whoever is kind to the poor, God says, honors me.
It is here, in this far away country, that I always find my way back to God. In the failures, the disappointments, the brokenness, and the tears, I see God's strong, sure, never-ending love for these children and I am satisfied. I give him the burdens I was not supposed to take up and once again I am free to do ONLY what HE has called me to do.
It may not be much. And to the world, it may not seem to be enough. But to me, it is everything.