EMMANUEL IN THE MIDST OF UNCERTAINTY

This is a blog originally published by my wife, Lorna, in December, 2011. Her writing is always so touching and inspiring because she writes from a deep place of honesty and transparency. I am honored to give you a window into her heart.

See original blog here, by Lorna Joannes @lornajoannes

Two Christmas’s ago, David and I went to the United States to celebrate with his family. We had a wonderful time. That same year, earlier in 2009, we were able to set up three more underground Bible training centers, but we suffered a lot of difficulty in China—from persecution to sickness, and near death experiences. It was also that same year that we published the inspiring Ako Ay Pilipino coffee table book, which took only 13 weeks from conceptualization to publishing. When December came, we were exhausted.

Most of us have experienced it: after a big project is finished—a big success or accomplishment obtained—everything slows down, and your adrenaline plunges. The physical tiredness combined with emotional exhaustion was very real. I felt broken inside and was not ready to go back to the mission field.

I knew that we were on the right track, but questions lingered in my mind. “I know this is what we are supposed to do, but is God really with me?” I wondered. “Are you with me, God?” We often ask these kinds of questions, especially when there are serious challenges along the path of the journey. They are valid questions. God knows the frailty of humankind, and He understands the questions that comes from deep within a man or woman. It is okay. He is not offended.

After weeks of speaking at churches and fund raising around America, a friend invited to us to go to her church. In only a few days we would return to China. We decided to attend.

We met the pastor and people in leadership before the service, where there were about 300 people, but we did not know anyone beside the friend who invited us. The worship was great. The presence of the Lord was there. Suddenly, just before the worship ended, they called us to the front to pray for us. It was very encouraging. People we have never met before were praying for us. As the prayer ended, a lady came up to me. I was surprised as she held my hand and put a gold ring on my right ring finger. She said, “This is my ring, made of broken jewelry, with my name engraved on it. The Lord told me to give it to you.” I looked down and saw the word “Manuela”. She continued, “My name is taken from the word Emmanuel, which means God is with us. God wants to tell you that He is with you, and He has never left you. He told me to give you this ring to remind you of this promise”.

As I stood in front of the 300 people present, I began crying. It was a heavenly moment, a confirmation that God’s presence was given to me. I knew in my heart that He was always there, but to hear a confirmation of the exact answer to my questions earlier that day was mind blowing.

That day, God gave me a promise ring. I’ve never seen Manuela again. I have never been able to get ahold of her. I know it is not easy to give a precious ring to someone you have never met before. I felt like she was an angel sent to comfort me, to remind me of what Emmanuel really means, and to confirm God’s promises so that we could continue our journey. To this day, I am still wearing the ring. Wherever you are, dear sister, I am so thankful for your obedience.

As you read this blog, it is about 10 days before Christmas, and only 16 days before the start of 2012. You might also have similar questions and wonderings going on in your mind. Or you may be facing some struggles like David and I were. They are normal. Wherever you are at this point, hold on to the promises enclosed in this name: Emmanuel.

As you evaluate this whole year that has sped by—as you see your accomplishments and areas that need improvement—remember one thing: Emmanuel. God is always with you. He was with you in the past, He’s in every detail of your future, and He knows whatever you are undergoing at present.

In the Chinese underground Church, it is common to greet one another or say goodbye with these words, 以马内利 (yi ma nei li), which means Emmanuel. They understand the power of the abiding presence of God in everyday life. May it be so in our lives as well.

Because of this word, Christmas exists. God chose to come down to be with us, because He knows that it is too difficult to live in this imperfect world alone. We need a companion, we need Jesus, our Emmanuel.

Invest now.

See original blog here, by Lorna Joannes @lornajoannes

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