Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Idols

And the LORD said to Gideon, “The people who are with you are too many for Me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel claim glory for itself against Me, saying, ‘My own hand has saved me.’ “ (Judges 7:2)

At the beginning of this journey, Bonnie and I looked at all the obstacles in the way of God’s direction to go “soon,” and knew it would take Divine intervention to make it all happen. The aviation/mechanic training begins the second full week of September. We had the option of waiting to go in January, but felt that only our fear of not having enough time for the move held us back. We gave that fear to God, and feel more at peace about September.

From that viewpoint, Bonnie and I have taken the steps to ready ourselves for the earlier departure. I gave my notice at work, and will be working my last day on July 29. Bonnie’s getting things together for charity and yard sales. I’ve put all of my energies into working on the yard, the kitchen (tiling project that’s been sitting there for ages), and eBay, Craigslist, and Freecycle to rid us of our years of accumulated distractions.

And yet, I find myself drifting away from worship and communion with the One who started all of this. Why? Am I not doing all of this for Him?

I find my struggle lies with idolatry. We were made to worship. We can’t avoid it. We worship 24/7/365. But, what is the object of our worship? What occupies that top slot in our thinking, our actions, our energy? I just told you what has been occupying all of my time and energy. Once again, I have placed the created above the Creator. God has blessed us with a calling to bring the gospel to the unreached, and I’ve turned that calling into my idol.

Can you just imagine the Lord standing there patiently, maybe tapping his foot, saying to me “So....remember that one time when you said I was going to have to do the work here? Are you planning on stepping aside any time soon? Are you going to claim the glory, saying your own hand has saved you?”

I’m already exhausted. I’m grumpy with my family. I fear not being able to accomplish every task that needs accomplishing. My prayers are nearly non-existant, my devotions are suffering, and I feel further from communion with God than when He first called me, and that’s saying something.

Satan is tricky - he’s insidious. His minions know my personality, and how best to get to me. They know I feel unworthy of this calling, and that I want to earn God’s grace through work. But, that’s the funny thing about grace - it’s undeserved favor, so I CAN’T earn it. But, by getting me to focus on the work, rather than the One Who Saves, I am made ineffective for Christ. I keep forgetting my place on the vine: “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5) In focusing on Christ, I will bear fruit. The reverse does not apply: I cannot hope to grow closer to Christ by trying to bear fruit through my own work.

Lord, turn me from these idols, I want to worship you. However you wish to use me, I want to be used, but only with you as my focus. I know you have a plan for all the rest; don’t let me be distracted by worry, doubt, the timetable, or the insurmountable tasks ahead. Like Peter’s experience in walking to meet you on the water, I know we’ll be just fine as long as we keep our eyes on you. Thank you for your promises, and your unfailing faithfulness in keeping those promises. Amen.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Introducing Bonnie

I'm not sure why it has taken me so long to put my thoughts on here…I guess a combination of 3 vacations/family trips in the last month and lacking the profound words and spiritual insight of the previous posts' author J but I'll give it my best.

Every morning since this all started, I wake up and find myself asking the Lord yet again "Really? Us? Are You sure?" I'm amazed at His patience, but honestly, we are the most unlikely candidates for this calling. I am incredibly thankful, excited, and blessed by it, but at the same time, terrified. Terrified we'll screw it up (mostly me).  Terrified I won't rely on the Lord and trust Him like I need to get us from a 2000 sq. ft house of stuff in Tucson to a much smaller place in WA in the next 6 weeks. Terrified He's asking me to homeschool this year (seems likely).

I also feel we are completely spiritually unprepared, and it's our own fault. We attend a megachurch Calvary Chapel here in Tucson and have been richly blessed by great teaching, worship, Bible studies, Sunday school, VBS, and a Christian school for our kids. Yet when I look at what we have given to the church here, it has been very little. We've volunteered here and there, inconsistently at best. Mostly we've just been spectators. God is so gracious that He has blessed us with some wonderful relationships and been able to bless some others far beyond what we have given, and for that, I'm thankful. Just in the last few months, right before Gabe had his calling to missionary aviation, we both finally stopped ignoring the conviction to serve more in our local Body of Christ and actually have tried to get involved in more things. I can say for sure that if we are delayed in our move for any reason, we will be doing more for the Kingdom here. But meanwhile, we have no real ministry or experience in service or missionary work outside our normal daily lives. We've been selfish. So to receive a calling to something like missionary work is humbling and makes you really wonder about this great God we serve. He seems to favor making us fly by the seat of our pants and trust Him or something J

Today I was reminded of Moses and the burning bush (Exodus 3-4, esp vv 3:10-12, 4:10-12). Basically Moses knew God saved him from being slaughtered as an infant for something, but he was hiding in the desert and hoping God had forgotten about him since he blew it by murdering an Egyptian. And he really didn't like to be put in a position of leadership or talking in front of people. At All. None of that mattered to God though.  He found Moses right where he was, completely unprepared to lead Israel out of Egypt and told him to Go and Trust. Moses could have said no, and God would have raised up someone else; in fact, He did let Moses' brother Aaron speak for him but He wasn't happy with Moses' lack of faith. Another story I love is Esther (Esther 4:10-17). Here she was, beautiful wife but captive of a Babylonian king who didn't know she was Jewish. And God called her to speak up and save her people. She was afraid at first too, but ultimately she obeyed and the Jews were saved. Point being, it's not about me or my fears or feelings of inadequacy. It's about whatever He has for me and our family.

Thanks be to Him who gives so generously of His grace, wisdom and strength to us all. And thank you for your love and prayers.
Bonnie