My name is Autumn Buzzell and I live and work in Ghana, West Africa with City of Refuge Ministries. Here, I run our school, Faith Roots International Academy, and get to be a part in rescuing and the healing of children who have been trafficked into the fishing trade, orphaned, abandoned, and those who just need a little extra loving. What an amazing gift this life is!

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Friday, March 1, 2013

The "42" Challenge

Last night, as I was reading the Word, I felt like God asked me to look up Isaiah 42.

When I opened up my Bible, I saw that I had written "City of Refuge Ministries, January 2010" along the passage.  I remembered back to when I was praying about coming to Ghana, this passage of scripture was laid on my heart.

Back then, I was coming with the fervor to fight the fight against human trafficking here in Ghana.  Now, I have discovered that "justice" is so much more than that.  It is about meeting people where they are, giving a voice to those who don't have one, and fighting for the future of the "least of these".  But, something else stuck out in this passage this time...(notice bold, italicized, underlined portions)

Isaiah 42

New International Version (NIV)

The Servant of the Lord

42 “Here is my servant, whom I uphold,
    my chosen one in whom I delight;
I will put my Spirit on him,
    and he will bring justice to the nations.
He will not shout or cry out,
    or raise his voice in the streets.
A bruised reed he will not break,
    and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.
In faithfulness he will bring forth justice;
    he will not falter or be discouraged
till he establishes justice on earth.
    In his teaching the islands will put their hope.”
This is what God the Lord says—
the Creator of the heavens, who stretches them out,
    who spreads out the earth with all that springs from it,
    who gives breath to its people,
    and life to those who walk on it:
“I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness;
    I will take hold of your hand.
I will keep you and will make you
    to be a covenant for the people
    and a light for the Gentiles,

to open eyes that are blind,
    to free captives from prison
    and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.
“I am the Lord; that is my name!
    I will not yield my glory to another
    or my praise to idols.
See, the former things have taken place,
    and new things I declare;
before they spring into being
    I announce them to you.”

Song of Praise to the Lord

10 Sing to the Lord a new song,
    his praise from the ends of the earth,
you who go down to the sea, and all that is in it,
    you islands, and all who live in them.
11 Let the wilderness and its towns raise their voices;
    let the settlements where Kedar lives rejoice.
Let the people of Sela sing for joy;
    let them shout from the mountaintops.
12 Let them give glory to the Lord
    and proclaim his praise in the islands.
13 The Lord will march out like a champion,
    like a warrior he will stir up his zeal;
with a shout he will raise the battle cry
    and will triumph over his enemies.
14 “For a long time I have kept silent,
    I have been quiet and held myself back.
But now, like a woman in childbirth,
    I cry out, I gasp and pant.
15 I will lay waste the mountains and hills
    and dry up all their vegetation;
I will turn rivers into islands
    and dry up the pools.
16 I will lead the blind by ways they have not known,
    along unfamiliar paths I will guide them;
I will turn the darkness into light before them
    and make the rough places smooth.
These are the things I will do;
    I will not forsake them.

17 But those who trust in idols,
    who say to images, ‘You are our gods,’
    will be turned back in utter shame.
The first part I was struck by was that out of faithfulness, God will bring about His justice.
Sometimes, it is easier to just "give up" on people.  To say that they don't accept our help, so why even try?  To become almost cynical about the differences in culture, in religion, in their understanding of God and his love for us.
Yet it is through FAITHFULNESS to what and where and who He has called us to, that justice is brought about.  Sticking to it.  Even when it's hard. 
And then, struck by this word "covenant".  That we are called to be a covenant to these people.  Sure, I can bring the light to the Gentiles, but that can only be done if I am a covenant to the people.  That word...it just scares me.  It means commitment.  It means sacrifice.  Not just the little bit that I give at the school, but covenant means the sacrifice of LIFE ITSELF.  Whoa.  That's not something that is easy to just say, "Ok, let me surrender that to you."
In the Old Testament, when God created a covenant with Abram, that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars, the blessed race, he made him walk through the middle of all of these animals that had been sacrificed, sprinkled by the blood of them to mark his commitment to God.
In the New Testament, God did away with all of the sacrifices and created a covenant with all of mankind--that Jesus would be the ultimate sacrifice--he would be the ultimate covenant-maker.
And He calls us to that too.  To give away our lives to Him, so that others might come to know Him.
I need to do that.  I need to surrender in that way.  It is so incredibly hard.  And to be honest, I'm still struggling through that word covenant for these people.  I'm praying into it.  I want to be there.  I do.  I'm just not quite there yet. 
And then comes the promise...God will lead.  God will guide.  Rough places will be smooth.  I will not be forsaken.
So good.  With sacrifice come this sweet, sweet promise. 
But, God didn't stop there. 
He sent me on to Psalm 42 (a "42" challenge).

Psalm 42

New International Version (NIV)


Psalms 42–72

Psalm 42[a][b]

For the director of music. A maskil[c] of the Sons of Korah.

As the deer pants for streams of water,
    so my soul pants for you, my God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.

    When can I go and meet with God?
My tears have been my food
    day and night,
while people say to me all day long,
    “Where is your God?”
These things I remember
    as I pour out my soul:
how I used to go to the house of God
    under the protection of the Mighty One[d]
with shouts of joy and praise
    among the festive throng.
Why, my soul, are you downcast?
    Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
    for I will yet praise him,
    my Savior and my God.
My soul is downcast within me;
    therefore I will remember you
from the land of the Jordan,
    the heights of Hermon—from Mount Mizar.
Deep calls to deep
    in the roar of your waterfalls;
all your waves and breakers
    have swept over me.
By day the Lord directs his love,
    at night his song is with me—
    a prayer to the God of my life.
I say to God my Rock,
    “Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I go about mourning,
    oppressed by the enemy?”
10 My bones suffer mortal agony
    as my foes taunt me,
saying to me all day long,
    “Where is your God?”
11 Why, my soul, are you downcast?
    Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
    for I will yet praise him,
    my Savior and my God.
Much of this Psalm appears to be so sad, but I connected with it because I am in this place of DEEP hungering after God.  I pant after him.  I long for my time with him.  My time with him has been sweet and deep and healing and leaves me refreshed.  It has also been a time of work--working out these places within me that are hard and stubborn--a bit of a refiner's fire.
But, something that I feel like God keeps speaking to me is that He is with me.  He has not forsaken me.  He loves me.  He surrounds me.
A bit like those waves described in verse 7.  Deep calls to deep.  Waves and breakers sweep over me.  The power of His love washes away every place that doesn't reflect him. 
And I just love the picture of verse 8...his love directing me.  His song guiding my nights.
These words brought me to tears last night as I was reading them.  The overwhelming presence of His love.  The way that He cares about me...Autumn...the one He created, loves, pursues.  It's powerful.  There are no other words.
I challenge you to find truth in these words as well.  What was your "42" challenge?

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