Have you ever heard someone say, "I'm broke."? Have you ever said, "I'm broke."? What do those two little words mean to you? You don't have the expected amount of money in your checking account? Your savings account is looking a little low? You can't afford to splurge on some unnecessary material thing? That new pair of stylish boots have to wait until next pay day? You have to skip out on an outing just this once with a friend? You have to be a bit more conscientious of your budget for a short while?
That's EXACTLY what it means for ME.
On my last trip to Ethiopia, I had to take a few unpaid days from my job in order to be able to go back to my heart for only a moment! I saved before my trip to cover the cost of my living expenses when I returned and I didn't think much about what that paycheck might look like nor did I care. God was allowing me to go back to a place so very special to me and He had already provided in ways that I could not comprehend so I trusted that He would continue to provide upon my return.
But, then, I came home. I returned to my reality, my routines, and unfortunately, my habits. And, shortly after my return, I received that not cared about (until I opened it) paycheck. For a moment, I forgot about the faithfulness God had shown me already, and I cringed as I saw the measly amount of money that was directly deposited into my bank account. In truth, I panicked. I doubted.
“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money." Matthew 6:24
What was I going to do? Missing about 3/4 of my paycheck, my "way of life" for the next few weeks was really going to suffer. Puhhhhhh-lease. For the first few days, I kept thinking and/or saying, "I'm broke." Then, one day, a conviction came over me so strong that it brought me to my knees. I was driving and mulling over the "state of my current finances" when a feeling of complete hypocrisy came rushing over me. "Really, Nicci," I thought. "Broke? You are so far from broke. You have a roof over your head. An excessive amount of groceries that you could live off of for the next two months in your pantry. Hot water to bathe in. You haven't missed a beat when doing the usual "fun" with friends. A family who loves you unconditionally. And, most importantly, a God that loves you enough to send you all the way to Africa where you receive the most rewarding spiritual fulfillment ever. Broke? You got a thing or two to learn about broke, little girl", I thought.
And, then, I pondered more. I am broke. BROKEN, in fact. When I am in Ethiopia, I have a spiritual nearness to God because of my infinite need for him in those moments. Moments that bring me to my knees when I reflect on my days spent with children who instantly love me simply because I'm there. Moments when I cry out to God for all the hurt that lives in that place. Moments when I don't think I can stand another minute and God proves me wrong. Moments when I have the overwhelming feeling that this is sooooo right and I am right where I should be- in the center of His will. Moments when everything else is stripped away and absolutely nothing else matters. I can't hide that being there is the toughest thing I have ever endured in all of my life, but, even better, it is the ABSOLUTE most rewarding.
But, I am BROKEN. I am distracted. I am a sinner. I let "my life" get in the way of His life for me. My focus is OFF! It's not something I like and it's not something I am proud of. But, it is the truth and it's something I am working on each and every day. When I am in Ethiopia, He is all I can depend on. I have nothing else. And, the closeness I feel is beyond words. But, then I come home. I come back to these "things" that do not matter. Everyday, I get frustrated with my reality because each day that passes, I allow a little more of "MY" world to get in the way of Him.
I guess, today, I am thankful for my brokenness. I am thankful because it reminds me. Reminds me of my absolute need to be near Him- in Ethiopia and in the United States. Reminds me that my world is meaningless without Him- here or there. Reminds me that I am so fortunate to be saved by His grace. Reminds me that I need to constantly work at giving Him ALL of my heart- not just a little at a time. He knows my heart and He still wants it. He knows that I am broken and He loves me anyway.
How great it is to serve a jealous and relentless God. How great it is.