Monday, July 5, 2010

Whaling into Projects with Abandon

Randy has this amazing ability to work without regard for messes, stained clothes, or scratches. In contrast, I have to wear an apron even when making toast! Now his unique ability can be frustrating to a wife who watches him tie into an emergency repair with absolutely no regard for his new shirt! However, I have also realized what a benefit this ability is in enabling him to tackle any project with all his energy. He easily eliminates risks that could hold him back. He’s not bothered with the danger of getting burnt or scratched, dinged or damaged. A potential acid burn on his shirt never holds him back from tackling a grungy repair. He throws himself fully into projects or construction virtually risk-free.

Maybe this is a guy thing or maybe it’s a personality thing, but I could use at least some of this care-free approach when tackling my projects and ministry. If I am constantly hampered by the what-ifs that flood my mind, I will be tempted to quit before I start. I do think it is a personality thing, but I wonder if it also has to do with values. Now I might step on a lot of toes, mine included, but the truth is that for Randy, the completed project, or the repaired brake line or other critical part, are far more valuable than a paltry pair of jeans or safari shirt! And rightly so! Most often his projects and repairs are critical to our ministry – much more critical than preserving a sharp appearance.

So, when tackling projects, I can ask myself what my real concerns are. Who or what am I really doing this for? Is this really about serving the kingdom or is there an awful lot of concern for me, my appearance, my image, and what I look like at the far end of this trail?

I have to say, that when Randy tackles a project, he doesn’t give a whisker of time to these questions because they are already programmed in his approach to life. And I think that is the same way Jesus approached ministry. He had already determined what was important for his life and serving. When risks of criticism or possible attempts on his life were required he plunged right in because he had already eliminated those risks as obstacles to obedience. And for me and others like me, if we constantly work on chiseling out some of these issues in our own lives, we might find ourselves whaling into projects and ministry with just as much abandon. Here’s to risk-free obedience.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Clinging to God's Sovereignty

Since the beginning of the year we’ve been plagued by long delays with renewing our passports, getting our current volunteer visa stamped in our new passports and then waiting for approval on our visa renewal application. Due to these inexplicable delays we have had to cancel several ministry trips and our primary ministry format has come to a grinding halt. While we floundered emotionally with these changes, we kept plowing ahead on preparations for upcoming training with the faith that in time, surely, these delays would come to an end.

While I know I can trust God and his perfect planning, I’ve wrestled periodically with doubts. Maybe I’ve done something that put ministry on hold? Maybe I haven’t been praying enough? During worship, prayer times, and preparation these niggling thoughts were usually put to bed, and I was able to move forward quite confidently in spite of repeated disappointments. I appreciated the extra space for rest, relaxation, unhurried Bible study, and creative writing time. In fact, both Randy and I have been feeling quite refreshed. Periodically the doubts roused themselves from their slumber and attempted to intrude into my rest. However, clinging to God’s sovereignty sent them packing.

And then, as quickly as you can say “God’s sovereignty,” all of God’s omniscient wisdom and planning became clear. One phone call from Randy’s mom explained God’s creative delays which positioned us to be at home and readily available to fly back to the States to support her through pending surgery and recovery. Without the delay in passports, and visas we would be somewhere in the middle of Mozambique with our truck when Randy’s mother really needed our physical presence with her. And our delays ensured that most of course planning and teaching preparation was done ahead of time so that we could travel to assist her.

And the elusive work visas? The day after the phone call, we went to Home Affairs to find that our visas were ready – Say what??? The countless delays had conditioned us to be prepared to do “battle,” but the victory was won as soon as God said the word!

So, we are a living documentation to confirm once again that we can cling to God’s sovereignty in trying times of questions, doubts, and delays. We can confidently send doubts back to their resting place. And we can wait in tiptoe expectation for the unfolding of God’s surprises in his precise timing.