Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Learning to Lean

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding” Just a couple of weeks ago, I did an object lesson for the kids at Living Hope to teach them Proverbs 3:5. Trusting...Fully Relying On God...Little green frogs...Leaning on the Lord instead of myself... It’s easy to teach, but hard to learn.

It seems that no sooner than God teaches me some new thing (so that I can teach others, I think), than He expects me to put it into practice in my own life! About ten minutes after I had finished writing out the lesson, I got an email that really rocked me. Discouragement hit like a avalanche. Then depression came as an aftershock, and it was a couple of days before I realized that God had already given me the weapon I needed to overcome it. He had never left me defenseless, even when I felt forsaken.

Trust is a conscious act of the will, a deliberate choice, realizing that my own understanding is flawed and placing myself in the hands of One who has perfect understanding. As I’d told the children, our reliance is not to be in ourselves, in other people, in money, in “stuff”. God wants us to rely fully on Him...and sometimes the only way He can get us to do that is to take away some of the props we are leaning on.

Then He reminded me of that as I was leaving the Walmart parking lot a few days later...and the license plate on the car in front of me said PROV3 6. In the entire state of Wisconsin, there is only one license plate with that verse, and I followed it for miles.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding, In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your path.”

Do you really think God doesn’t know what you’re leaning on?

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Good Bye Again

In a little more than 24 hours, we will say good bye to our oldest daughter and her family and, unless the Lord intervenes, we will not see them for another four years. By then, our five grandchildren will have lived most of their lives on the other side of the world—Little Hannah will not even know us. Perhaps we will not see any of them this side of Heaven.
I hate good bye’s.
Every separation is a kind of “little death”, and all death is unnatural in God’s view. We were created to live in union with Him and with each other. Harmony and union ruled until sin entered the world, and with it death and separation. Adam and Eve experienced “dis-union” immediately after they disobeyed God. Their relationship with Him was broken and so was their relationship with each other. Ever since they were expelled from the perfection that was Eden, they lived with the imperfection of ruptured relationships and physical separation and death. They lived with death of the spirit, too, because they no longer had unrestricted access to their Creator, and all of their descendants have inherited their curse. Sin is bound into our spiritual genes, and it affects all people of all colors and nationalities.
God hates good byes, too.
He hates them so much that He endured separation from His own Son so that we could be reunited with Him. Jesus left the perfection of Heaven and lived in a human body in a sinful world for 33 years. He lived a perfect life that was not marred by the sin around Him, and He took the curse of sin on Himself when He died on the cross. He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life—no man comes to the Father but by Me.” He said, “I am the door. By me if any man enter in, he shall be saved.”
Only through Jesus Christ can we become what God has intended us to be. By trusting in Him and His saving death and resurrection on our behalf, we will never again be separated from God. There will be no eternal good bye for believers, and God has entrusted His people with the good news that Christ has died to make that relationship available to all people—not just here in America, but to the ends of the earth.
And that is the reason why Gail and John and their children are leaving again.
They are serving God in the Philippines so that people in remote mountain tribes will have the opportunity to come to know the God who made them for His pleasure. When they enter that plane and the doors close, we will say good bye. When tribal people are introduced to the Door of Heaven and come to trust the One who has saved them, it will be worth it.