Would you like France updates?

Hello, everyone! I wanted to explain very quickly about two other ways you can receive updates about our time in France.

I felt called to use this blog as a way to share my personal experience in France and what God is teaching me, but I realize some of you may be reading this and want to hear more about Dad’s work with the seminary or the work we are doing with churches here. We send out a monthly update to our American friends, and we can easily add you to the email list! Simply comment on this post with your email, and we will add you. As you pray for us, we would love to pray for you too. Once you are on the email list, you can simply respond to those emails with specific prayer requests.

Also, I try to post weekly updates on my facebook about our time here. If you would like to send me a friend request (Madeline Burer), and comment that you did so, I will do my best to accept it. 

Thank you so much for your interest in what we are doing in France! 

Do Something

I hadn’t planned on naming every post after a song, but God keeps bringing them to mind. We will see how long this trend lasts! 🙂 I have also always loved this song by Matthew West. The lyrics that stick out to me are:

If not us, then who

If not me and you

Right now, it’s time for us to do something

If not now, then when…

This is a lesson that God has been teaching me during our first week in France. As I sat in our beautiful Airbnb, I kept saying to myself that I would take this week to rest. I would relax and get acclimated, and then I would get started on whatever God had laid out for me to do. While rest is something we definitely need as humans, something about this plan did not sit well with me. I realized how easy it is to have this attitude in life. It is so easy to fall into the trap of saying things like: Once I graduate high school, my life will start. Once I grow up, God’s plan for me will start. Once I get past these two really hard, busy weeks, I can truly start to serve the Lord. 

I have always been excited about God’s plan for my life, but I have generally looked at God’s plan as something far in the future. God is teaching me that his plan for my life is happening right now. It is happening today, in this very moment. I shouldn’t just look to him to know what to do for my career. I should look to him to know what to do daily. I would hate to look back on my life and realize I spent that whole time making plans or waiting around until I got older. Life is happening right now. 

God used some very specific instances to solidify the importance of this truth. I was flipping through Facebook, and a quote popped up by Bob Goff. It said, “Quit waiting for a plan; go love everybody.” I am definitely a planner, so this quote bothered me at first. I thought to myself, “If I don’t prepare at all, things are definitely not going to go very well.” Upon further reflection, I realized that lots of things do require diligent preparation, but even during this time of preparation I can accomplish God’s plan for my life. There are some more general things that I can do right now to honor and glorify God because this is his ultimate plan for everyone. It is God’s plan for me to have a relationship with him through prayer and reading his word. It is God’s plan that I love people with the love that He has shown me through his son. It is God’s plan that I share the amazing story of Jesus whenever I am presented with the opportunity. It is God’s plan that I encourage others to grow in their faith.

As I thought about these ideas in France’s 70 degree weather, God also brought another quote to mind that I heard in the 100 degree weather of Dallas. When we were debriefing with the youth after our mission trip this summer, my mom explained she had had reservations about coming on this trip as an adult volunteer when we had so much to prepare for France. She then said, “I am never sorry I took time to do something for God’s glory.” I realized this applies to my life too. I won’t be sorry if I leave this Airbnb and go love people, but I might be sorry if I look back and realize I waited around. 

Lastly, I was impacted by this idea when I looked at a devotional book that had been given to me as a senior gift from my youth leaders. It is written by Andy Blanks, and right on the cover it says in big bold letters NOW. Underneath, it describes “impacting your world for Christ, right now.” The first devotional talked about a passage that we are all familiar with, but I would like to share it with you here. It is Jeremiah 29:10-14.

10 This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”

My devotional book taught me that Jeremiah’s words to the exiles contain some principles that are true for my life too. God loves us so much that he has a plan for each of us. These plans are for his glory, which means they are also what is best for us. In order to know these plans, we can pray and God will answer. He reveals his plan for our lives through his word. 

I am so thankful God loves us, and wants to reveal his plan for us. I know his plan is not only the future, but something that happens right now. So, I decided that I had done enough sitting around and it was time for me to “do something.” I simply went out and loved people, and I pray I continue to do so, like God instructs me in his word. Doing this, working to accomplish God’s plan, did not only bring him glory. It brought me ultimate joy and peace. Thank you, Lord, for teaching me that I am never sorry when I take the time to “do something,” because your plan is happening right NOW. 

Fear is a Liar

I have always loved this song by Zach Williams, but I have never had much reason to relate to it. My life has always been fairly simple and safe, and I don’t ever feel much fear on a regular basis. This is something I am thankful for, but I think it can cause me to rely on myself instead of relying daily on the Lord. This is a problem because I need the Lord, every day, ever hour, every minute, every second. 

I remember praying one night that God would call me into a deeper reliance on him, and I feel as if he has answered this prayer in calling my family to France. I am beyond excited to be in this beautiful country. When we lived here my fourth grade year, I had the time of my life experiencing such an amazing culture, and I feel so blessed to be here again. When we came here the first time, I simply followed my parents. I did what they did and met who they met. I felt safe and I had very few reasons to fear. Even though I know the country and culture better this time around, there are a few more unknowns.

I have some different feelings and circumstances this time around. First and foremost, I won’t go to school. I am an adult, so that gives me a lot of freedom. I can even drive here, so I can do everything that I wish to do. While this sounds great, it scares me that I won’t have a set schedule. I know that I will go to seminary with Dad once a week, and I know that I will go to church. Other than that, how I spend my time is up to me, and that scares me. On the way here, while most of the plane passengers were sleeping, lots of doubts that I did not expect to feel crossed my mind. What if I completely forget how to speak French? What if I don’t know what to do most days and feel useless? What if, at the end of this year, I have not accomplished anything for God’s glory?

Right away, I knew this fear was not at all from the Lord. I opened my Bible and remembered a passage that Dad had shared with us that morning before we drove to the airport. It is Joshua 1:5-9. 

“No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

God made a promise to Joshua during a very scary time of his life. Moses had just died and Joshua had the responsibility of leading the Israelites to the Promised Land. He had so many reasons to be terrified, but what does God repeatedly tell him to do? “Be strong and courageous.” This is not something God expected Joshua to do on his own. On his own, he was a weak, terrified human being. He could only be strong and courageous because the Lord gave him strength.

I felt like God spoke directly to me through this passage. I am a sinful human being who has every reason to be scared when I try to do things on my own. I should be scared if I am relying on myself because I know I will fail time and time again. However, God tells me to rely on him. God tells me to let him take care of it. God tells me to simply obey and promises he will do great things. I don’t have to worry that I won’t be able to speak French or that I don’t have a set schedule or that I won’t accomplish anything for God’s glory. That is for God to take care of. I simply have to listen to his voice daily.

So, I will be strong and courageous, but this is most certainly not a strength and courage that I will muster up on my own. This is a strength and courage that only the Lord can give. Instead of fearing, I will be thankful for the uncertainty that this year brings because it only pushes me to further rely on the Lord. When fear starts to creep into my mind, I will seek the Lord through prayer and through his word. I will remember that I am so weak, He is incredibly strong, and fear is most definitely a liar. 

And we’re off!

Tomorrow we leave for France to spend 10 and a half months there for Mike to teach at the Faculté Libre de Théologie Évangélique and for us to minister among several churches in the area. It’s our second time to spend a sabbatical in France, so you would think that leaving would be easy, but it has proven difficult. We are leaving great friends and family for a short time, which is painful, but we are excited to be back in France among friends old and new.

We will post here on our adventures and activities, so please check back soon. À bientôt!