Wednesday, May 4, 2016
“Stone walls do not a prison make, Nor iron bars a cage.” ― Richard Lovelace 1642
In the early seventies, Karen and I planned to emigrate to Australia. That country was actively seeking teachers and would pay the moving expenses and travel costs for any teachers willing to commit to teach in Australia. We would have been teaching in the province of Victoria and had even had the overseas shipping company come and weigh all of our furniture. Everything had been approved, and Karen and I and our only son (at the time) Chris were preparing to move. Karen finally decided she just couldn’t be that far away from her parents (Australia would have paid for a return trip to visit after two years, but that wasn’t enough) and that was that. We never became Aussies. This is just to illustrate that many, many times we fail to do things because of limits we put on ourselves. God may have called you to do things that you can’t do where you live, but you may be economically tied to the place (upside down mortgages and car loans), or you may be tied to family (can’t leave the parents or the grandkids), or even in a job you don’t like, you may be tied by a good health plan or pension. In his poem, “London” William Blake writes of “mind-forg’d manacles” meaning that we create our own ways of restraining ourselves, preventing us from doing what is right or what God wants of us. Sometimes, when God is tired of waiting for us, He gets us fired or laid off so that we will start looking for the open door He has provided. The problem for me was that it took me forever to see the door and instead of walking through it, God got impatient and threw me through it. I was happy He did, but if you’ve got an open door somewhere, it’s better to walk through it on your own—just sayin’. Lots and lots of times, God does not need you to leave where you are (few of us are like Abraham), but He does need you to pay attention to what He wants. The quote above is about a man who was in prison but still felt free because of the woman he loved and how just thinking of her freed him from his cell. We can do the same whatever our circumstances. Nothing is stopping you from doing all you can for God and others from right where you are, working right where you are, and without disturbing the relationships of family and friends. Some of you may be being called to more radical service of God and will have to move, change jobs, or find yourself far from your current hearth and home, but if that’s the case, God will make sure that you know it and will provide all the help you need the make the changes necessary. However, those folks number in the minority. Most of what God needs can be provided by people who stay right where they are and bloom where they’re planted. I think that may be the hardest of the two options. You have to make a lot of sacrifices regarding your time away from your job and perhaps severely cut back on the recreational things you are doing that keep you sane—and maybe not. Who is the best evangelist to a single mother? A single mother. Who is the best evangelist to a plumber? Another plumber. You get the idea. You have unique gifts that God can use—if you will allow Him to use them. That’s the hard part because whether you are to move to another continent or just give up bowling so you can work with the homeless, you have to put yourself in His hands and that’s scary the first time you do it. I remember the first time I had to lean back over a cliff, holding onto a very thin rope, and drop backwards into the unknown depending on a rope to keep me from falling to the rocks below. Well, folks, let me tell you from experience, God is so much more than just a rope when it comes to keeping you from falling or failing. Accept that He loves you, if you love Him, and offer yourself to Him for His purposes and the world turns all Technicolor and rainbows. Not that everything will be like a fairytale happy ending, but happiness will be there in abundance to counter whatever else gets in the way. If you’ll trust a rope to hold your hope, how much easier to trust God? Eh?