There I was, in a dusty village far removed from modern conveniences, with only the clothes on my back. I needed at least a clean dress, as I was one of the scheduled speakers at the church conference. A local tailor was recommended, and I walked there escorted by a group of male ministers, earnest in their desire to be of assistance to me. Surprise, surprise, the tailors were all male. They asked me to describe the dress I wanted - what!?! No patterns, no catalog to choose from? And I had to do this all through a translator. A male one. I asked for some paper and sketched a basic empire waisted dress that went down to my ankles. I chose my fabric and was promised that the item would be completed in a few hours. The dress was delivered to my room, and I tried it on. I couldn't even describe all of my feelings as I fought to get that dress on - the bust was tight, the waist was low and the dress ended mid calf. AHHHHHHH! For those of you not in the know, this is the absolute worst kind of dress for most women. Only one with no chest and no hips whatsoever could possibly wear this kind of dress. I last wore one like this in the 70s - when I was in elementary school! And only because my mom made me. And it was the 70s. Eager faces waited outside of my door to find out how the dress was, and I carefully replied that it didn't quite fit. This time I requested that only one person escort me, and we made our way back to the tailor. Without actually pointing to the areas that needed correction (one had to be oh so careful in this ultra conservative place), I tried to describe what needed to be altered. A little while later, the dress was once again delievered. The hem had been let out, so it was longer. The bust area was looser. The waist still fell at an undesirable spot, gathered to kind of poof out. Long sigh. I WAS NOT going through that again. Thankfully, a package was sent through another minister who arrived from the capital city that afternoon. It contained the few outfits I had left behind: 2 skirts, a jacket and top that matched. Not my favorites but better than the 70s polyester nightmare. My comfort and solace was in the Lord. I clung to His Word, wrote of my anguish and struggles in my journal, and the gentle voice of God started to speak to me. I was led to focus in on Colossians 3, particularly verse 12: 12 Clothe yourselves therefore, as God's own chosen ones (His own picked representatives), [who are] purified and holy and well-beloved [by God Himself, by putting on behavior marked by] tenderhearted pity and mercy, kind feeling, a lowly opinion of yourselves, gentle ways, [and] patience [which is tireless and long-suffering, and has the power to endure whatever comes, with good temper]. The Lord was asking me if I would trust Him and choose His "brand" of clothing. Replacing outfits was easy, but would I go deeper and find fulfillment, comfort and identity His way? Would I first and foremost choose to clothe myself God's way? My answer to God then was yes! And though the remainder of my time in that village still had challenges (intestinal parasites, unending marriage proposals, a huge rat in my bed, bugs, monkeys, deep sorrow at others' circumstances, etc.), I walked in a peace from deep inside and knew God was pleased with me through it all. A decade has passed, and I realize that God has never stopped asking me this question - would I choose His clothing, His ways, His perspective? So often in the last ten years as my role changed from missionary to wife to mother to homeschooling teacher, I have chosen my own garments to identify me, my ways of coping, my limited perspective on all of life's challenges. I have responded my way, not God's way. I found solace and comfort in other things, with other people rather than turning to the One who knows me the deepest. And I wasn't even aware of it. But I also realize that the Lord has still been in charge, allowing circumstances in my life to strip me of these temporal comfort zones over and over. He knows the deepest parts of me and that I could never be satisfied with those things. He calls us all to so much more. Let us encourage one another to put on His clothing and to take off the temporal things that never satisfy. Read Colossians 3:12-17. 12 Clothe yourselves therefore, as God's own chosen ones (His own picked representatives), [who are] purified and holy and well-beloved [by God Himself, by putting on behavior marked by] tenderhearted pity and mercy, kind feeling, a lowly opinion of yourselves, gentle ways, [and] patience [which is tireless and long-suffering, and has the power to endure whatever comes, with good temper]. 13 Be gentle and forbearing with one another and, if one has a difference (a grievance or complaint) against another, readily pardoning each other; even as the Lord has [freely] forgiven you, so must you also [forgive]. 14 And above all these [put on] love and enfold yourselves with the bond of perfectness [which binds everything together completely in ideal harmony]. 15 And let the peace (soul harmony which comes) from Christ rule (act as umpire continually) in your hearts [deciding and settling with finality all questions that arise in your minds, in that peaceful state] to which as [members of Christ's] one body you were also called [to live]. And be thankful (appreciative), [giving praise to God always]. 16 Let the word [spoken by] Christ (the Messiah) have its home [in your hearts and minds] and dwell in you in [all its] richness, as you teach and admonish and train one another in all insight and intelligence and wisdom [in spiritual things, and as you sing] psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, making melody to God with [His] grace in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do [no matter what it is] in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus and in [dependence upon] His Person, giving praise to God the Father through Him. Amen.
Posted by Miki at 7:26 AM