Friday, June 27, 2014

“Faith is not the belief that God will do what you want. It is the belief that God will do what is right.” ― Max Lucado

We are volunteer missionaries which means we have the blessing of the United Methodist Church, but we receive no money from them—or anything else for that matter.  It means we came here, not because we were sent by an organization or denomination, but because we were called by God to come here.  We came with two suitcases, $8,000 in cash, and a whole lot of faith.  We had sold or given away (or the bank had taken back) everything we owned in the U.S.  We left house, car, personal belongings, family, friends, familiar culture, familiar language, and all we had ever known--to go to a place we had only visited once for a week or so.  A place so far away it took three days of flying over oceans and deserts and jungles and then driving for an entire day to get there.  Many family and friends thought we were crazy, and we couldn’t really blame them.  All we knew was that we couldn’t do anything else.  We relied a lot on this quote, “Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God” by Corrie ten Boom.  Whenever Jesus wanted to talk about faith, He always referred to Abraham.  When God said, “Go.” Abraham went.  When God said to take his son up on the mountain and sacrifice him, Abraham took Isaac up on the mountain.  No arguments, no wheedling, no trying to find reasons to avoid or postpone it.  Abraham just went when called.  So did we.  We have never been poorer, but we have never been richer.  We have never been more alone, but we have never been more surrounded by God’s love.  We have not had an easy time of it.  Physically, all three of us have had more than our share of diseases, hurts, surgeries, and pain, yet as Elbert Hubbard wrote, “God will not look you over for medals, degrees or diplomas but for scars.”  We have never had as many problems, but we have never been happier.  We have never regretted our decision even at the worst of times.  We had many regrets for things we had not done earlier in our lives, but none for what we have done since we (or rather God) made the decision that brought us to Bunda, Tanzania.  Back in my rock climbing days, we had what were called “commit” moves which meant that once you started, you couldn’t go back and try again.  It was make it or fall.  Of course, I always had a rope tied around me and someone on the other end to make sure my fall was only a short one and not lethal.  Coming here was a “commit” move, but with God on the other end of the rope, it was hardly a crazy one.  But here’s the thing, every single one of you is called to make “commit” moves from time to time.  Most of the time, you find several good reasons why you shouldn’t even be in that position.  Rationalizing not doing what God has called you to do has become a fine art.  Some churches even offer you help from the pulpit every Sunday so that you don’t even have to feel uncomfortable with whatever kind of life you are leading.  I always liked to be challenged by sermons.  I didn’t want a platitude that I could take home and hang on the wall and feel good about myself.  Many times, people coming out of the churches I served would say things like, “Should have worn my steel-toed shoes today, or that was a pew-polisher, or what are you—some kind of radical like Christ was?”  We need to be reminded and reminded often that Christ’s call to follow Him was not meant to be only if it was comfortable or convenient for us.  The reasons not to pick up your cross and follow Jesus are legion.  The reason to do it is that you finally know that He died for you, rose for you, lived for you, loved and loves you, and only wants the very best for you whatever the cost might be.  You are not called to move to Africa every day, but every day you are called to love your neighbor as yourself, to clothe the naked, to feed the hungry, to bring the light of Christ’s love into the darkness of those who know Him not.  Every single day, you are called to make a “commit” move for Him, if you truly know Him.  One day I paid the one dollar fee for a man’s prescription for his son’s medicine at the local bush hospital here.  The man said, “God bless you” to me.  I told him he was too late.  God had already blessed me because when he asked me to make my “commit” move, I could do no other.  

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