Answering The Call is an international missions organization dedicated to reaching people in difficult to reach places.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Firewood, Friends and the Father

I was sitting in my usual quiet time spot this morning, and like every other day, my mind began to wander. I have often told the Lord that I hate this about myself, my mind not being able to stay focused when I am with Him. (I am not a self-loather, but there are things I wish I could or would change about myself.) There are so many distractions and they seem to especially present themselves when I sit down to be with the Lord. Several years ago the Lord showed me that writing and journaling would actually help keep my mind focused. So, I try and make this a routine. Anyway, back to the point of this entry.

While talking to God, my mind jumped ahead to this upcoming fall and winter. I was drinking my cup of coffee, and I began to think about fall being right around the corner. I love building a fire, and fall brings such an opportunity. All of a sudden I was reminded that we needed some more firewood. I began contemplating where I could get some good firewood. I sure didn’t want to get it from the same guy that I bought from before. He sold me a load of wood that I couldn’t burn for a year. I always thought that “green wood” was just a casual expression, until he showed up in front of our house with a truck load of, literally, "green wood". I remember wondering, “Is this what they mean by green wood?” And because I had always thought “green wood” was just an expression, I was naive enough to go ahead and buy it.

As I thought about where I could get some wood that would actually burn, a friend of mine came to mind. I thought to myself, “I wonder if I could get some wood from Andy.” It was just another thought on the string of many thoughts. After reading a bit, I decided to take my usual morning walk. My walk happens to take me by Andy’s house. Well, guess who was out in his yard on this Monday morning? Yep, Andy and his beautiful family. David and I stopped to say hello and catch up. Something about Andy’s house looked a little different. Come to find out the City of Roanoke had just cut down a large tree on his property. I confess that I had already noticed the huge pile of firewood in his yard. I must also confess a bit of envy at this point. After chatting a few minutes, Andy asked if I was ready for some firewood. I promise I did not ask. I don’t think I even hinted. I also promise this was my usual walking route.

On the way home, I was telling David about my thought process regarding firewood that morning. What are the odds that I would have a string of thoughts related to firewood that morning, a Monday morning, the same Monday morning that Andy had taken a day off from work; the same Monday morning I would walk by Andy’s house where he just happened to be outside at the moment of my passing? I did not pray and ask God for firewood. I just had the desire for it. And the desire stayed inside my thought process, never making it to my journal as an official request for God.

I realized on my way home how much God is with me. He is a part of me. I am communing with Him all the time, even when I am not conscience of it. He is so intricately involved in my life. We are inseparable. He knows all my thoughts before I speak them. He knows all of my desires before I ask and even when I don’t ask. He calls me a friend. He is not some distant, far-off, supreme being waiting to hurl his wand of disapproval if I mess up or get it wrong. He doesn’t have a thousand rules for me to follow. He doesn’t punish me when my mind wanders during my quiet time. He is love. And He is in love with me. I am His daughter and He is my daddy. He has qualified me to share in His inheritance. He is in me and my life is hidden in Him.

I hope and pray that you know this God. He not only loves you, but He is IN love with you!

Joy

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Mustard Seed Faith

I don’t understand it. It is beyond what my human mind can comprehend. It is not exactly like I pictured. It is more than I ever imagined. What is the it? It is God’s plan.

God’s plan for the redemption of mankind is more than my mind could ever contrive and more than my heart could ever contain. I can’t imagine my heart being that full of love; enough love to offer one of my children for payment of another’s sin.

God’s plan for the church, (the people of God) is more than I can fathom. To think that it is through the church that the manifest glory of God would be displayed throughout the earth is mind boggling! Does it not blow your mind that the church is the fullness of Christ Jesus? Ephesians tells us that it was in accordance with the eternal purposes of God that the manifold wisdom of God might be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places. This is a huge calling on the church that I am still trying to wrap my mind around.

God’s plan for my life is nothing like I had imagined it to be. I married a man who had a degree in business and thought I would be living the life of a business man’s wife, and a successful one I might add. God surprised me early on when He called my husband to seminary and then to inner city ministry. That was a far cry from my plans. 6 years ago my husband envisioned building a center where people working in difficult places would come for training in order to return to their homeland stronger and more equipped. He was confident this was what God was calling us to do. I remember thinking, “OK, sure, maybe in about 15 years we will do that.” 4 months later we were doing that. I was like, “You have got to be kidding God?” God wasn’t kidding. I kept screaming, “I am not the visionary! I can’t do this! This is bigger than us! This isn’t practical!” I could only see the why’s and how’s of why it would not work. And according to the economy of man, I was right. However, God works according to His own economy and loves doing the impossible in and through the improbable, accomplishing the unimaginable in and through the unthinkable. All He needs from us is our willingness.

Many people want to meet Moses, Paul or Peter in heaven. I want to meet Noah’s wife. I want to ask her, “Were you tempted to give up? Did you think your husband was crazy? Did you care about what all the people were thinking? Did you believe God would really bring the animals, male and female, 2x2 to board a boat? Was it chaotic? Or was it clean and orderly like we church people like it?” In the last several years, I have often thought of Noah and his wife's journey of faith to build the ark.

If God were to give into my whining and my need to see the whole picture ahead of time, I am sure it would overwhelm me. But more importantly, I would miss out on the great adventure of coming to know God through faith. I am learning from my friend Dr. Tarter that the faith of a mustard seed has to do with growth and increase. When the mustard seed is sown, it grows and increases greatly. According to Tarter, “Powerful faith is faith that has increased. Increased faith comes from an enhanced trusting relationship with God.” I don’t just decide to “have faith.” I can’t create it or work it up! According to Romans 12 we are all given a measure of faith. Each believer starts with a measure of faith, even if it is as small as a mustard seed, it is still a measure. When Jesus rebukes His disciples for the littleness of their faith in Matthew 17, He was basically rebuking them for the lack of increase in their faith. God is always at work to increase our faith; therefore, we will always be given opportunities to grow in our faith. Faith is what pleases God.
I know this has been true in my journey with God. I am not yet where I want to be. I haven’t told a mulberry tree to be uprooted and planted in the sea. But my faith has increased. I want my faith to keep increasing. The more I believe God the more of God I see. The more I see of God the more I believe. I want Him to take my measure of faith and work it…cultivate it…stretch it…grow it. I want to say to a mountain one day, "move from here to there."

God was so kind to give us a glimpse this summer of what He has in store for the center. Nearly 75 people came to work, rest, enjoy fellowship and experience more of God. We hosted four short-term teams, seven short-term missionaries, people from the Middle East, and our first discipleship program called Generation of Promise. My faith increased this summer. And this is just the beginning!

My last question to Noah’s wife will be, “what did you feel when all the animals showed up; when the rains came and went?” She will only be able to answer this question because she was willing to walk in powerful faith, faith that was increasing.

Joy