Recently, I was talking with a friend involved in missionary care about how much I love the calling of Nathanael in John 1. I love the eyes of love and honor with which Jesus looks upon Nathanael. My friend asked me what it would sound like for Jesus to greet me in this same way? What would it feel like to hear Jesus say he has seen you in prayer before God? How would it shape you to be promised to see greater things than you already have seen?
Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!”
Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.”
Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!”
Jesus answered him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” And he said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”
I was so moved by these questions. I wrote out in my journal lines like, “Jesus saw Sarah Mae coming toward him and said of her, ‘Behold, a daughter of God indeed, in whom there is no deceit!’” and “Jesus answered her, ‘Before you entered into ministry, when you were praying in devotion under your fig tree, I saw you, my child.” These words brought so much wholeness to my heart.
Under the fig tree, the place where I once hid in shame, you redeemed, now it is a place where I am seen fully, and in me, he finds no deceit. I’ve spent a lot of time this year in shame, clothed in fig leaves, yet he calls me to sit in his presence. Leaning my back against the sturdy fig tree, he reminds me that the fruit of redemption is more beautiful than the clothes of shame. “Daughter, you will see greater things than these,” I hear him whisper gently.
In this fresh, new, exciting 2019, I sit under the fig tree with my Lord, with a prayer of gratitude, for things he has bestowed unto me, and things he has not yet fulfilled. I find David’s prayer of thankfulness when the Lord told him that his line would build the Lord’s house in 2 Samuel 7.
Then King David went in and sat before the Lord and said, “Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far? And yet this was a small thing in your eyes, O Lord God…And now, O Lord God, confirm forever the word that you have spoken concerning your servant and concerning his house, and do as you have spoken…Therefore your servant has found courage to pray this prayer to you. And now, O Lord God, you are God, and your words are true, and you have promised this good thing to your servant. Now therefore may it please you to bless the house of your servant, so that it may continue forever before you. For you, O Lord God, have spoken, and with your blessing shall the house of your servant be blessed forever.”
I read this prayer with humility, knowing that all that the Lord has done has been a small thing in the eyes of the Sovereign Lord. look forward to building in the Kingdom of God in cross-cultural ministry. May it please God to have given me this call! Earlier this year, I planned of ministering in Prato, Italy starting in 2019. Solomon in Proverbs 16:9 said that man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps, or in my case, girl plans her way, the Lord directs her steps to Dallas, Texas! While I was in Athens this summer, I had the opportunity to attend a training with Missions Resource Network. During this time, I spent a lot of time seeking the Lord’s will about the invitation to train under this organization and ultimately be sent out with a team. I know our God has called me to work within the context of the refugee crisis, and I believe taking time to receive more training in both discipleship and culture would be the best stewardship of this call. If you want, you can read more about this organization and their plan for the Mediterranean rim at www.mrnet.org/medrim/.
Next week I begin a job with a non-profit, teaching refugee children after school to help with social-emotional learning and academic success. Children coming from trauma sensitive backgrounds face so many other challenges and problems, but giving safety and consistent love, these problems are healed little by little. Truly, perfect love casts out fear. I’ve written about my love for the Christmas carol, O Holy NIght.; in the second verse, a line that rings through my heart sings, “By His Name, all oppression shall cease.” In Luke 4:18-19, Jesus quotes a prophecy made in the beginning of Isaiah 61 about what his ministry is to be, saying,
"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.”
Friends, this is the essence of the gospel. This is the essence of Christ’s love. Let us put down our fig leaves of shame, fear, and bondage, to be freed and seen clothed in the righteousness of Jesus.
Happy 2019, let us together proclaim this as a year of the Lord’s favor.