Friday, August 12, 2011

Our Crock Pot God

"It's not the amount of our work that's important, or the status of it, or the notoriety of it. It's the faithfulness with which we do exactly what He has assigned us. Our lives and labors call for perseverance, persistence, patience, and prayer."

I'm not sure where I read that, but I know it mattered enough for me to write it down.  Sometimes I feel like what I'm doing for God is so much less than He deserves.  I mean, shouldn't I be a missionary in Africa or something?  Instead, I have the joy of teaching a women's Bible Study in Southern California!  Such suffering for the Lord! But you know what?  Its exactly what He has assigned me to do and He's just as pleased when I'm faithful to MY calling as He is to the missionary in Africa when they're faithful in theirs.  

As a ponder my "assignment" I see that it does have a cost; not African heat, snakes or lions, but time.  Most all of my "free" time is spent doing something related to the Bible Study I teach on Tuesday nights.  This group of over 200 women run the gamut of "brand new to the Bible", to "been in the Word all their lives".   The challenge for me is to teach in a way that's clear enough for the first timer and interesting enough for the old pro.  That means lots of research, and lots of time in prayer and in His presence so I always know what HIS plan is for the study rather than mine.  It also means not having as much time as I would like to spend with friends, or doing the other things I enjoy.  But the reward is infinitely greater than the cost.

I'm sure if you think about it, you will see what your current assignment is from the Lord.  I believe being a Mom is a VERY high assignment.  It means laying aside your own life frequently in order to better the life of your child.  Its a 27/7/365 assignment and God is pleased to see you faithfully tending to it. Being single or childless when that's not what you desire can be an assignment also.  It isn't necessarily permanent, but God looks to you to be faithful in it and to reflect the truth that your life is as rich and full as it can be as you live in relationship to Him.  Not an easy assignment.  Whatever your assignment from the Lord, you will be most successful and God-pleasing as you exercise the four "P's" seen in the opening quote:

Perseverance - to persist steadily in an action or belief, usually over a long period and especially despite problems or difficulties.  To persist steadily over a long period of time is in opposition to all of our "feelings".  We are a microwave society while our Creator is a crock pot God!  He knows nothing will bring out the best in us like long, slow cooking in the heat of trials.

Persistence -  the ability to resist being disturbed or altered. When time lengthens and things aren't going our way we can easily get upset and complain or alter our course to one that seems more comfortable.  God looks for us stay the course and keep our eyes on Him and not the circumstances.  Remember, He's looking for faithfulness more than success.

Patience - the ability to endure waiting, delay, or provocation without becoming annoyed or upset, or to persevere calmly when faced with difficulties.  Patience is perseverance and persistence put together.  Its the ability to not be controlled by our circumstances.  Its to have "the deep settled confidence that God is in control of all of the details of our lives".

Prayer - Prayer is on on going conversation with the Lord.  Did you notice I didn't say monolog?  Prayer involves speaking and listening.  Its not presenting your thoughts to God to be rubber stamped as approved.  Its submitting our thoughts and ideas to Him and then being open for Him to speak to us about them through the Bible, His written Word, through a pastor or teacher, through others, or even through music.

Do you want to do great things for God?  Then faithfully tend to the assignment He's given you right now.  There are no big things or little things to Him.  He's simply looking for faithfulness. 

PS  For those who might be interested and who live in the area, the Bible Study starts again September 6 at 7 pm at Covenant Presbyterian Church in the city of Orange.  We will start our 30 week study on the Gospel of John.  Leave a comment if you would like more details!


Sunday, August 7, 2011

What Is Dying?

What is dying? I am standing on the sea shore. A ship sails to the morning breeze and starts for the ocean. She is an object of beauty and I stand watching her till at last she fades on the horizon, and someone at my side says, "She is gone." Gone where? Gone from my sight, that is all; she is just as large in the masts, hull and spars as she was when I saw her, and just as able to bear her load of living freight to its destination. The diminished size and total loss of sight is in me, not in her; and just at the moment when someone at my side says, "She is gone," there are others who are watching her coming, and other voices take up a glad shout, "there she comes" – and that is dying.
-- Bishop Brent from All in the End is Harvest: An anthology for those who grieve, edited by Agnes Whitake

There is so much we don't know about life.  There is even more we don't know about death.  As a Christian, I'm clear in my understanding that death is only something that happens to my earthly body, and that the the real me is then free to live in heaven with the God who created me, and the Savior who redeemed me by paying the price for all of my sin.  I don't fear death---but I fear the process.  I don't fear being with Jesus, but I fear the journey to get there.  

But then I read something like what Bishop Brent wrote and I'm reminded of watching my Mom pass from this life to the next.  She had been sick for five years and was very ready to go.  I stood by her bed and read Psalm 23 out loud to her as her breathing became more and more shallow..."surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all of days of my life and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever".  My eyes shifted from my Bible to her face and I said, "Mom, you're going to dwell in the house of the Lord forever!"  It was only then that I realized she was no longer breathing.  Her big blue eyes were open wide and there was a look of surprised delight on her face that I'll never forget.  She seemed to be looking past me as if someone else had come into the room.  As I closed her eyes I knew someone had---Jesus had come to take her by the hand so she could board the ship for heaven, her true home.  As she sailed from my sight, she reached the shore of safe harbor where all those who had known her, loved her, and gone before her were waiting to welcome her.  The look on her face was evidence that even the journey could be sweet.  

If dying is to be released to be with the Lord forever, and if He comes to take the journey with me, then there is nothing to fear, is there?