Saturday, October 4, 2014

The Way of the Master

In my experience, sometimes God’s voice is clear but His leading does not always make complete sense.  At times I look back on God’s leading in my life and wonder why He has led as He has.  Yet, I cannot say that His leading has ever been bad.  Circumstances have not always been the way I wanted them to be, but God has been good.  Following the Master is worth it.
Sure, God has led me into some difficult situations which tested my faith.  I’ve not always had the best attitude.  But, I have followed and God has been faithful.  Some things have not always turned out the way that I thought they would or the way I would have liked them to.  Nevertheless, today, I believe I am in the place God ordained for me to be. 
Isaiah 55, verses 8 & 9, says,

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.

In 2006 God began to stir my heart for missions.  Four years earlier, in 2002, I had graduated from Christ for the Nations Institute (CFNI), certainly a school that, among other things, has a focus on missions.  Yet, during my time at CFNI, I cannot say that God significantly stirred my heart for missions.  He waited until 2006.  Between 2006 & 2008 I went on 4 different trips to Central America with a wonderful ministry, Light of Life International.  Those were great times, both challenging and exciting.  God gave me a passion for missions.  It became something that I wanted to do with the rest of my life.  I even had hopes of going into full-time ministry with a mission organization.  I hoped, perhaps, that it would be with Light of Life. 
God had made it clear to me that part of His plan for my life was to travel overseas, preaching the gospel.  I wanted to go on the next trip.  But things didn’t seem to be working out for me to go.  I was certainly ready, so I thought, to go all-out for God.  I wanted to travel for Jesus however He wanted to make that happen.  But, for some reason, God drew me back. 
That same year a guest minister at our church gave me a prophetic word.  Part of his message to me was that God was restraining me from going out on the mission field.  That was not what I wanted to hear!  (There were some other goods parts that I did want to hear).  I knew God had spoken to me about missions.  I knew that was part of God’s plan for my life.  Yet, at that time, God was restraining me. 
After the trip in 2008, until 2011, I didn’t go on any trips.  God simply would not allow me to go.  There was nothing I could do about it.  I could have tried to go, but, I wouldn’t have been following God.  It wasn’t that God’s plan for my life had changed.  His plan was still the same; His timing was just not my timing.  His ways were not my ways. 
And then, in 2011, my church decided to take a group on a mission trip with Light of Life.  Lord, is it okay if I go now?   I felt the Lord say it was okay for me to go.  So for the next 3 years I went on 3 more trips.  The last trip was a very fulfilling experience for me because I got to lead one of the outreach teams. 
I can’t really explain why sometimes God directs us in the ways that He does.  But I have learned that the best thing to do is to follow Him.  When we follow Him we will be tested, we will be stretched.  It may not always make sense.  But it is good. 
When you have big dreams for God, of course, you want to fulfill those dreams.  You want to get in the game.  It’s hard sometimes to sit on the sidelines, or on the bench, and wait your turn.  Sometimes it’s hard to watch others when they seem to be walking more fully in their calling.  Though you may be doing some things for the Lord, it feels like you’re waiting to really live your dreams. 
At the end of the day, I think the most important thing is to love God and follow Him.  When you love God, of course, it’s natural to want to do something great for Him.  Sometimes we have to wait on our ideas of doing those “great” things and simply be faithful in the place God has called us to be.
Certainly, I think a big part in following God is fulfilling His purpose for our lives.  And, there is always something God has called us to do.  He hasn’t called us to just sit on the sofa and watch TV all day long (though I certainly enjoy watching TV).  
If God has promised us something, I believe He is faithful to His word and He will do what He says He will do, in His time.  If He has called us to do something, given us a vision for our lives, He will not ultimately restrain us from following His purpose.  But we need to walk in step with the Lord.  We don’t want to fall behind, but we also don’t want to run ahead.  We want to be bold and courageous, yet, steadfast and patient.
I am reminded of the passage in John Chapter 21.  Jesus had just had a special moment with Peter.  Peter was forgiven, restored, and his sense of calling renewed (“Feed my sheep”).  Peter sees the disciple John, “the disciple whom Jesus loved,” the one who “had leaned on His [Jesus] breast at the supper...”  Peter asks Jesus, “But Lord, what about this man?”  Jesus said to him, If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me.” (see vs. 20-22)
No one can run our race for us.  And we each have our own individual, unique race to run.  We have to follow God ourselves.  Every day.  As we obey God’s voice, following the leading of us Spirit, and living our lives by His word, we will reach our destination.  We’ll reach every destination God has for us along the way.  Sometimes we have to move forward confidently in faith.  And sometimes we have to wait patiently.  In all things we walk before our Master, sensitive to the Master’s voice.  He is our Captain.  We live for Him.  And He knows what He is doing.  In His time, we will fulfill our purpose and destiny.  And one day we’ll hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant…” (Matthew 25:21)

Prayer Equals Peace

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow...