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Day 10 – 7-29-2016 (Friday)

18 Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish.” 19 This He spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, “Follow Me.” (NKJV)

Now Jesus is talking about total commitment.  He gives Peter a look into the future and what will happen to him in his older years.  He gives Peter a glimpse of a life of being totally committed to Christ, even glorifying God in his death.  As we follow Peter in Acts and even his own letters he wrote, we see a man being committed to Christ, being the leader of the church, being a forceful and confident voice of God’s love and salvation.  Peter listened to Jesus and at this moment received restoration, full and complete forgiveness.  The relationship was back on track.  What a great feeling that must have been!  

Have you had a burden that was difficult to bear and needed forgiveness to handle it?  I have and believe me receiving the load lifting forgiveness was incredible.  Having a relationship go sour and stay that way eats away at one’s soul.  It becomes a painful sore that won’t heal.  It is there everyday destroying whatever joy you may have.  But the forgiveness is oh so sweet.  I remember helping a colleague one day deal with a very bad migraine.  When I gave her some medication the headache disappeared and she commented that the relief was wonderful.  She said, “In fact, I would go through another headache just to experience that relief!”  This was said in jest but the point was clear, the relief was refreshing and felt so good.  It was that high moment that we all strive for.  Forgiveness is truly sweet.

Jesus gives Peter the reassurance of forgiveness and complete restoration and then realigns Peter’s focus on the role he was to play in building the church.  Jesus says this simply, “Follow Me.”  Two words that carry a lifetime of meaning and impact.  Two words that describe total commitment.  Two words that have the fingerprints of love all over them.  

The Scriptures record times when Jesus chose His disciples.  Possibly on the very same shore He encountered Peter, James and John working with their nets and preparing to go out fishing again (Luke 5).  He asks them to go back out and drop their nets.  The catch was phenomenal.  Even the nets started to tear.  Jesus says to Simon, “Do not be afraid.  From now on you will catch men.”  So when they had brought their boats to land, they forsook all and followed Him. (Luke 5:10-11).  Later He goes by the tax collector’s booth where Matthew was sitting and Jesus says, “Follow Me.”  Matthew immediately walked away from his lucrative career of tax collections (Luke 5:27-28).  It seems to me these men were prepared for this as they didn’t seem to question Jesus invitation.  They didn’t hesitate to leave what they were doing to walk with Christ.  Possibly they were looking for this and when Jesus walked by they knew this was the One.  Later, Jesus encounters people who receive the same invitation and they hesitate, give excuses, ask for time, desire to deal with some other life priority before committing to Christ.  Jesus would not accommodate them.  Jesus wants total commitment, not half-hearted commitment that would be easily derailed if any stress or attraction came along.  When Jesus invites us to walk with Him, He wants us to walk with Him, every step, every minute of the day.

Again, I see total commitment in the mission in San Lorenzo and in missions elsewhere.  It takes a lot more commitment to go to a place like San Lorenzo than it would to go to my neighbor next door.  It seems easier to go to someplace where no one knows me than to go next door.  I like to say, ‘Yes, Lord, I am totally committed to You.”  Then He says, “Well, let’s go to that homeless man or that person shooting up some heroin, or to my neighbor and share the love of God with them.”  Oh, You mean next door, Lord?  But they know me.  They are my friends.  What would they think if I came to evangelize them?  Would it hurt our relationship?  But Jesus said, “Follow Me.”  How committed am I?  

20 Then Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following, who also had leaned on His breast at the supper, and said, “Lord, who is the one who betrays You?” 21 Peter, seeing him, said to Jesus, “But Lord, what about this man?”

22 Jesus said to him, “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me.” (NKJV)

It seems Peter tried to find some way around the total commitment, possibly pursuing another path that might be easier.  But Jesus responds with “Follow Me.”  This is what loving Christ is all about.  This is sticking with Him through thick and thin.  This is letting Christ define what following Him means as we walk together along life’s path and go where He wants to go.  “Follow Me!”  Are you ready?

Father, Lord Jesus, thank You for what You have taught me in this short account of Jesus and Peter and some of the disciples on the shore of the Sea of Galilee.  The message of total commitment is so clear and answers my question of how I should love You.  I love You by not only worshiping You but also by walking with You every step, every day.  I love you by obedience to Your commands.  I love You by being an extension of Your love to those I meet along the path.  I love You here in Ecuador where You have brought me to serve Your children here in San Lorenzo and to help Your servants, Jane, Maria Luisa, Angelita, Damarys, Gonzalo, and Leila.  Lord, Your unfailing love is so incredible.  Help me, Lord, to love You like You love me, unfailing, unconditional, in complete obedience and total commitment to You.  Lord, You know that I fall short of that frequently.  I fail You so many times yet You patiently stand by my side and bring to me mercy, grace, healing and forgiveness.  Oh, thank You Lord for being such a Friend to me.  You are the most special person in my life.  I dedicate myself to You, Lord.  I dedicate my family to You.  I dedicate my friends to You.  Lord, help me stay at Your side and in the middle of Your will for me.  Thank You, Lord Jesus.  Thank You.  Amen.

5:30 am.  I turned the lights out about 9:30 last night and slept well.  I awoke in the quiet darkness and spent some time praying before getting up.  Many times during these morning prayers God give me direct answers.  Suddenly a confusing issue that has been on my mind for several days will suddenly come clear during the prayer.  Other times God answers with the reassurance that He is fully aware of the problem and to just trust Him.  That’s hard, you know!  The hardest part of dealing with a painful issue is to wait, being patient and waiting, especially for me as my career has ingrained into my mind the need to solve problems.  Sometimes surgery is the method.  Other times medication.  But waiting?  Not something I like to do nor does my patient.  Yet, God at times, seems frequently to me, tells me to wait.  He wants me to follow Him even if it means the problem exists for a while, maybe a long while.  Some prayer concerns don’t solve overnight, especially when the concern involves the health and wellbeing of another person.  But God hears those prayers and He is honored when I turn to Him instead of trying to solve or control the situation myself on my time schedule.  So, one of the precious times of the day are these 20 to 30 minutes laying there in the dark talking with God.

Father, thank You for those moments.  I feel especially close to You at those times basking in Your love, mercy and grace.  Thank You, Lord.  Amen.

Breakfast was a hodgepodge of fruit, bananas, toast and cheese.  My gut reacted to all the fruit yesterday so I think I’ll eat with caution this morning.

After breakfast we met for devotions.  The Scripture passage was Hebrews 4:14-16.  The message here was we now have Jesus who is our High Priest.  Through Him we can come to God at any time.  In fact we can boldly approach the Throne of Grace.  Before Jesus one could not come close to God.  Touching the Ark of the Covenant resulted in immediate death.  The high priest could only approach God in the Holy of Holies once a year.  Anyone else who went into this space would die.  But now we can come close, just like I did this morning laying in the quiet darkness talking with God.

Father, it is such a privilege to be able to come to You, to walk with You, to lean on You, to learn from You.  You reach out and desire a relationship with me, a relationship that is heart-to-heart.  Through Jesus I can now boldly come before You knowing I will be accepted and loved with a love that goes beyond any understanding I have.  Thank You for that, Lord.  Thank You for the invitation to walk with You.  Thank You for the privilege of coming close to You.  Thank You, Father.  Amen.

After devotions Katie and I worked on painting the small utility room.  This is the last room to be painted giving a fresh look to all the rooms where the team does most of their work.  We were done with the painting by lunch time.  This afternoon we will be working on packing for our trip tomorrow.  Tomorrow we head back to Quito and on Monday will be flying out to the States.  The week seems to have flown by and yet we all were able to get a lot of work accomplished.

Katie and I were putting the last room back together.  One of the shelving units was rusty so she was covering the shelves with some contact paper.  While she was working on this a mother and child who were waiting to be seen at the clinic came over and started helping Katie.  They were very helpful even though they couldn’t communicate with one another other than both the mother and Katie knew what to do in concert with one another.  At times the little girl helped as well.

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Jane has been doing several ultrasounds and learning the equipment.  We all have had our turn as the “patient” for her so she can look at the gall bladder, liver, pancreas, kidney.  I took my turn this morning and even though my gall bladder is gone and a good part of the pancreas is gone, the changes in the anatomy gave her a challenge to view the various structures in the liver and the neighborhood.  She needs that experience so she can accurately scan her patients.  I am glad this instrument has been useful for Jane.  This will expand her capability of diagnosing various problems rather quickly instead of waiting on the patient to obtain an ultrasound somewhere else.  Plus, many of these ultrasounds have sketchy interpretations and the films they bring back are practically unreadable.  I am so glad Jane was given this ultrasound machine.  It will be a huge asset for her.

Manuel, Carmen' son, is a "patient" for Jane to practice her ultrasound technique

Manuel, Carmen’ son, is a “patient” for Jane to practice her ultrasound technique

After lunch we have put stuff away and then I started packing for the trip home.  I will have empty luggage as one was totally for supplies for Jane.  Fortunately, my one suitcase fits inside the other and my carry-on folds up and fits inside my suitcase.  Thus I reduced three pieces of luggage to one.  This will make the trip back to Quito easier.  Then I’ll need to repack for the trip back to the States but we will have a couple days in Quito before heading to the airport.  I was writing an email to my wife and trying to catch up since the internet was up and running but as soon as I pushed send, the internet went down so that email didn’t go.

About 5 pm Angelita and Maria Luisa and Leila came to the house.  We said our good byes to Angelita and Maria Luisa and we gave them a thank you card in Spanish that contained a monetary gift from the five of us.  Also Carmen and Leila received a card from us with a gift.  Then we got a group picture with Jane being the one behind the camera.

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L-R: Carmen, Angelita, Leila, Maria Luisa, Jane

L-R: Carmen, Angelita, Leila, Maria Luisa, Jane

We then took Carmen and Manuel out for dinner as more of a thank you to Carmen for all the help and support she gave us this week.  She did all our cooking for every meal, cleaned the house, did laundry and several other tasks around the clinic.  She would come about 5 to 6 am and stay till 9 or later each night.  We appreciate her so much.

After dinner I was able to get online to finish some email and post this in the blog.  Soon I will be heading to bed and have my last sleep here in San Lorenzo.  We will leave after breakfast in the morning and go to Quito with a couple stops along the way to do some shopping.

Father, this has been a productive day as well.  Thank You for empowering us to get many things done for Jane.  The house and clinic rooms have a fresh look and the staff are thrilled at the improvement.  It was a labor of love for them and for You, Lord.  Thank You for the opportunity to come here and serve even through a paint brush.  Thank You, Lord, for bringing Barb so she could teach Jane how to use her ultrasound machine.  I am really glad this worked out for her.  Lord, I worship You and thank You for this mission trip.  Amen.

 

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